Gilbert Allen edited the Ninety-Six Press from 1991 until his retirement from teaching in 2015. He received his BA, MFA, and PhD from Cornell University, where he was a Ford Foundation Fellow. Since 1977 he has lived in the foothills of South Carolina with his wife, the educator and environmental activist Barbara Allen. He is the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature Emeritus at Furman University.
His first two collections of poems are In Everything (Lotus, 1982) and Second Chances (Orchises, 1991). His third collection, Commandments at Eleven (Orchises, 1994), was chosen by South Carolina’s principal newspaper, The State, as one of the year’s five most outstanding books. His fourth book, Driving to Distraction (Orchises, 2003), was featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. Catma was published in 2014 by Measure Press. Believing in Two Bodies (Kelsay, 2020) was featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily.
In 1994, he and William Rogers edited the anthology 45/96: The Ninety-Six Sampler of South Carolina Poetry, which has been used as a textbook in colleges, public schools, and libraries throughout the state. The success of that volume led to a second anthology, A Millennial Sampler of South Carolina Poetry, published in 2005. A third anthology, Archive: South Carolina Poetry Since 2005, was published in 2018, and was co-edited with Jeffrey Makala and William Rogers.
Gilbert Allen’s work has appeared in such publications as Able Muse, American Book Review, The American Scholar, Appalachian Heritage, Appalachian Journal, College English, The Cortland Review, Crazyhorse, Cumberland Poetry Review, Eclectica, EPOCH, Evansville Review, First Things, Florida Review, The Georgia Review, Image, Kakalak, Measure, New Verse News, Pembroke Magazine, Poem, Poet Lore, Sewanee Theological Review, Shenandoah, Smartish Pace, The Southeast Review, South Carolina Review, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Quarterly West, Tampa Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Your Daily Poem.
Gilbert Allen has appeared frequently on South Carolina Public Radio, and he is listed prominently in Walter Edgar’s The South Carolina Encyclopedia. He has received the Amon Liner Award in Poetry from The Greensboro Review, the Rainmaker Award in Poetry from Zone 3, the Nancy Dew Taylor Poetry Award from Emrys Journal, the Porter Fleming Award (in both poetry and fiction), the Piccolo Spoleto Fiction Prize, and on five occasions the South Carolina Fiction Project Prize. In May 1999 he was elected an honorary member of South Carolina’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He was the 2002-03 recipient of the South Carolina Literary Arts Fellowship from the South Carolina Arts Commission. His chapbook Body Parts received a South Carolina Poetry Initiative award in 2006. In 2007 his sequence of poems “The Assistant” received the Robert Penn Warren Prize from The Southern Review. His short story “Trash” received Special Mention in Pushcart Prize XXXVII. In 2014 he was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors, the state's literary hall of fame.
Gilbert Allen’s books of prose fiction include The Final Days of Great American Shopping (University of South Carolina Press, 2016) and The Beasts of Belladonna (Slant, 2020).