Fran Castan

2013 Long Island Poet of the Year


Photo Courtesy of Ann Sager

Fran Castan, a native of Brooklyn, New York, moved to Hong Kong with her six-month-old daughter and her first husband, Sam Castan, when he became Asia Bureau Chief of Look Magazine. His assignment was the culmination of three years of covering the war in Vietnam and writing many award-winning articles.  However, not long after moving his family to the far east, Sam Castan was killed in the highlands of Vietnam.


In the time since, Fran Castan worked as an editorial assistant at The New Yorker, an editor at Scholastic Magazines and as editorial director of Learning Corporation, the former educational subsidiary of Columbia Pictures.  As a freelancer, her work appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Education Digest and on WNET. For 25 years, she taught writing and literature at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, a four-year college and graduate school.


Fran Castan began writing poetry at the age of 40 and earned an M.A. in Creative Writing at New York University.  While there, she won a teaching fellowship, a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony, a prize given by the Academy of American Poets and N.Y.U. and The Lucille Medwick Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her poems have appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies.  Among the magazines are Poetry, Heliotrope, and Ms.  Among the anthologies are Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (N.Y.U. Press);  Seasons of Women (Norton); From Both Sides Now: The Vietnam War, and Its Aftermath in Poetry (Scribner/Simon & Schuster); On Prejudice: A Global Perspective (Anchor/Doubleday) and The Light of City and Sea (Street Press).


Fran Castan has read at The Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival and The Seattle Poetry Festival.  She has appeared at colleges, bookstores and libraries in New York, California, Washington State, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Maine and Connecticut.  She continues to give workshops and readings countrywide.  She just received a 2008 Pushcart Prize nomination, her tenth.    

Fran and her husband, the artist Lewis Zacks, live in Amagansett, New York, where they are frequently visited and inspired by their five grandchildren.

Most recently, Ms. Castan was published in the anthology Long Island Sounds (North Sea Poetry Scene) featuring poets who live, work, play and write on or about Long Island. Additionally, she hosts Poetry Pairs, an annual program taking place at Guild Hall in East Hampton, which presents a local poet with a national poet to celebrate authors’ book releases and to make poetry accessible to the members of her community.

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