Lee Upton

Lee Upton is the author of fourteen books, including Visitations: Stories, Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles: Poems, The Tao of Humiliation: Stories,  Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition, Boredom, Purity & Secrecy. She is also the author of Ambrosia, an e-book story published digitally in the Working Titles series from The Massachusetts Review, and an award-winning novella, The Guide to the Flying Island, as well as five additional books of poetry and four books of literary criticism. Visitations: Stories, was the recipient of the Kirkus star, and her seventh collection of poetry, The Day Every Day Is, was the winner of the 2021 Saturnalia Prize and will appear in 2023.

Upton was the recipient of the Open Book Award from the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, the Lyric Poetry Award and The Writer/Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Pushcart Prize, the National Poetry Series Award, the Georgia Contemporary Poetry Series Award, the BOA Short Fiction Award, and the ForeWard Review Book of the Year Award in the category of writing for Swallowing the Sea. Her first collection of stories, The Tao of Humiliation, received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal as well as highly favorable reviews from The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist. She was awarded the Mary Louise VanArtsdalen Prize for Scholarship, the Marquis Teaching Award, the Jones Award, and the Jones Faculty Lecture Award at Lafayette College.

Her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Harvard Review, Dublin Poetry Review, and three editions of Best American Poetry. More than six dozen of her short stories have been published or are forthcoming, appearing in journals such as World Literature Today, Ecotone, Epoch, Cincinnati Review, Shenandoah, Boulevard, and Notre Dame Review. Upton’s writings have been recognized as noteworthy in listings in editions of Best American Short Stories, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and Best American Essays. She has published aphorisms and has collaborated with several visual artists such as Ed Kerns, Jim Toia, Thom Crawford, and Curlee Holton.

In an interview with the Kenyon Review, Upton shared writing advice: “So here are some ideas that have been useful to me: We can write like we speak—it’s just a more enhanced version. Writing should convey urgency, even if we can’t quite figure out why we’re experiencing so much urgency. While there are those who may feel contempt for what we write, there may be others who need what we’ve written. It’s best to respect the possibilities that the work offers and to be patient… More advice: we shouldn’t force-feed our work with our intentions or put our work in a stranglehold to make it conform to ideologies. Instead, we should give the work our kind attention, respecting the potential of writing to open up new and unexpected pathways of many sorts. Always I try to remember: have faith and be grateful and devoted. Writing is about love and endurance. Then again, just about everything is about love and endurance.”

Upton lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, and writes full-time. She is the Emerita Francis A. March Professor of English and, until recently, was the former Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with an M.F.A. in Poetry and Writing. Her teaching and research interests include modern and contemporary poetry, contemporary fiction, creative writing, and humor writing.

Updated June 2022

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