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 most recent publications include Poetic Song Verse: Blues-Based Popular Music and Poetry (co-authored with Mike Mattison of the Tedeschi Trucks Band) and an edition of David Bottoms's poetry, Scraps in the Blessings Jar (forthcoming, 2023). Suarez and Mattison also edit a regular feature, "Hot Rocks: Song and Verse" for Literary Matters, and they are currently 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 a contributing editor to The Hopkins Review, 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. In 2021, he was the recipient of the Griffith-Rousseau Award for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Catholic University. He was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities in 2019, and grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Teagle Foundation in 2021 and 2022.

    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

    James Dickey and the Poltics of Canon        Southbound       Just Dead 

    Poetic Song Verse      A Scarp in the Blessing Jar Cover

    Recent interviews with him include:

    Yale University Radio: "Mike Mattison and Ernest Suarez," January 7, 2022
    https://museumofnonvisibleart. com/interviews/mike-mattison- and-ernest-suarez/

    Michigan Public Radio, CultureShift: “New Book Poetic Song Verse Explores when Poetry and Popular Music Collide,” Podcast December 28, 2021

    Lit Hub: From Joni to Dylan: Mike Mattison and Ernest Suarez on The History of Literature Podcast, December 13, 2021

    Virginia Public Radio, Watching America: "Ernest Suarez and Mike Mattison: Poetic Song Verse," December 3, 2021 ernest-suarez-mike-mattison- poetic-song-verse

    Elsewhere: Words Sung and Stories Told: A Scholarly but Readable Look at Poetic Song Verse, November 15, 2021 sung-and-stories-told-2021-a- scholarly-but-readable-look- at-poetic-song-verse/

    Deborah Kalb:  Book Q & A with Mike Mattison and Ernest Suarez, November 15, 2021

    Lit Hub (Keen On)  The Literary Power of Blues-Fueled Songwriting, November 12, 2021

    “A Q&A with Mike Mattison and Ernest Suarez,” Compulsive Reader, November 9, 2021

    “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