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Lia Purpura (born February 22, 1964, Mineola, New York) is an American poet, writer and educator. She is the author of four collections of poems (King Baby, Stone Sky Lifting, The Brighter the Veil, It Shouldn't Have Been Beautiful), four collections of essays (Increase, On Looking, Rough Likeness, and All the Fierce Tethers) and one collection of translations (Poems of Grzegorz Musial: Berliner Tagebuch and Taste of Ash). Her poems and essays appear in AGNI,[1] The Antioch Review, DoubleTake, FIELD, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, Orion Magazine, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Ploughshares.[2] Southern Review, and many other magazines.

Lia Purpura
Lia purpura 4025.JPG
Born (1964-02-22) February 22, 1964 (age 55)
Mineola, New York
Alma materOberlin College;
Iowa Writers' Workshop
GenresPoetry; Essays


A graduate of Oberlin College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop where she was a Teaching/Writing Fellow in Poetry, Lia Purpura is currently Writer-in-Residence at University of Maryland, Baltimore County in Baltimore, Maryland. She is also on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop Low-Residency MFA Program in Tacoma, Washington. Recent visiting appointments include visiting faculty at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Bedell Visiting Writer at the University of Iowa's MFA Program in Nonfiction; Coal Royalty Visiting Professor at the University of Alabama's MFA Program; Reader/Lecturer at the Bennington Writing Program, and Visiting Writer at the Warren and Patricia Benson Forum on Creativity at Eastman School of Music. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, conductor Jed Gaylin, and their son.


In 2012, Lia Purpura was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

King Baby (poems, Alice James Books, 2008) won the Beatrice Hawley Award[3] and was a finalist for the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award and the Maine Literary Award.

On Looking (essays, Sarabande Books, 2006) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the winner of the Towson University Prize in Literature.[4]

Increase (essays, University of Georgia Press, 2000) won the Associated Writing Programs Award in Creative Nonfiction.

Stone Sky Lifting (poems, Ohio State University Press, 2000) won the OSU Press/The Journal Award.

The Brighter the Veil (poems, Orchises Press, 1996) won the Towson University Prize in Literature.

Her recent essays "On Coming Back as a Buzzard", "Glaciology"[5] and "The Lustres" were awarded Pushcart Prizes in 2011, 2009 and 2007, and other essays were named "Notable Essays" in Best American Essays, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Lia Purpura is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Fulbright Award Fellowship (translation, Warsaw, Poland), multiple residences at the MacDowell Colony, and a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.





  • All the Fierce Tethers: Essays. Sarabande Books. 2019. ISBN 978-1-946448-30-9.
  • Rough Likeness: Essays. Sarabande Books. 2011. ISBN 978-1-936747-34-4.
  • On Looking: Essays. Sarabande Books, Incorporated. 2006. ISBN 978-1-936747-21-4.
  • Increase. University of Georgia Press. 2000. ISBN 978-0-8203-2232-2.




List of poemsEdit

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
Prayer 2012 Purpura, Lia (November 19, 2012). "Prayer". The New Yorker.
Beginning 2013 Purpura, Lia (April 29, 2013). "Beginning". The New Yorker. 89 (11): 60.

Awards and honorsEdit

  • 2012: Guggenheim Fellowship in General Nonfiction[8]
  • 2009: Towson University Prize in Literature[9]
  • 2007: Beatrice Hawley Award
  • 2004: NEA Literature Fellowship in Prose[10]
  • 2000: Associated Writing Programs Award in Creative Nonfiction[11]
  • 2000: Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award[12]



External linksEdit