Ernest Suarez's Headshot


  • English
  • School

  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Expertise

  • 20th Century American literature
  • Literature of the American South
  • Verse composition in poetry/blues/rock/jazz
  • Poetic song verse
  • Profile

    Dr. Ernest Suarez has been on the faculty at Catholic University since 1991 and served as the Chair of the English Department from 1995 to 2015 and since 2017. Dr. Suarez’s main area of interest is American literature, particularly the literature of the American South, and his most recent work centers on how poetry, blues, and rock intersected to usher in a new era of verse composition in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

    Dr. Suarez’s forthcoming book—co-authored with Mike Mattison of the Tedeschi Trucks Band—Poetic Song Verse: Blues-based Popular Music and Poetry, explores how blues helped open rock to poetic influences, resulting in a new literary genre they call poetic song verse. Suarez and Mattison also edit a regular feature, "Hot Rocks: Song and Verse" for Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art, and currently they are writing a book tentatively titled Ralph Ellison, Robert Penn Warren, and the American Century. Dr. Suarez also writes occasional articles on music for the Washington Post and works with Luther Dickinson and the North Mississippi Allstars in various capacities.

    Dr. Suarez was selected as the James E. Dornan Memorial Professor of the Year at Catholic University (1993-1994), the District of Columbia Professor of the Year (1999) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and was the recipient of William H. Kadel Distinguished Alumni Award (2000) from Eckerd College. He was a Senior Fulbright Fellow in Spain (1999) and China (2005-2006). He is the associate editor of Literary Imagination, and serves on the editorial boards of Literary Matters, The Texas Review, The James Dickey Newsletter, ES: Revista de Filología Inglesa, and is on the Advisory Board of the Robert Penn Warren Circle. He served on the Editorial Board of the South Atlantic Review from 1993 to 1996 and as the judge for the Dictionary of Literary Biography Award for Distinguished Volume of Poetry from 2000 to 2004. He was the Virginia Beall Bell Ball Lecturer in Contemporary Poetry at Baylor University in the Spring of 2016, and was the President of the ALSCW in 2017.

    An interview with Dr. Suarez regarding the focus of Catholic University's English Department appeared in “Ordinarily Professing: An Interview with Ernest Suarez” Literary Matters: The Newsletter of the Association of Literary Scholars, and Critics, Vol. 1.2, Fall 2008: 21-23 and can be accessed via

    Recent interviews with him include:

    “Five Questions for the ALSCW’s Ernest Suarez,” Stay Thirsty Poets, Spring 2019

    “An Interview with Ernest Suarez,” Quillette, December 3, 2017

    “A Conversation with ALSCW President Ernest Suarez, Pt. 1,” Oxford University Press Blog, September 23, 2017

    “A Conversation with ALSCW President Ernest Suarez, Pt. 2,” Oxford University Press Blog, September 29, 2017

    Selected Awards, Grants & Editorial Positions

    • Associate Editor, Literary Imagination
    • Oxford University Press Journals Planning Committee
    • Robert Penn Warren Circle Advisory Board, 2011-present.
    • Editorial Board, Literary Matters
    • Fulbright Fellow, Sun Yat-sen University (China), September 2005-July 2006.
    • 2000 William H. Kadel Alumni Medal Distinguished Alumni Award, Eckerd College
    • Carnegie Foundation/ CASE Professor of the Year, Washington D.C., 1999
    • Fulbright Senior Fellow, University of Valladolid (Spain), February 1999-July 1999