Lia Purpura

Lia Purpura

Fellow: Awarded 2012
Field of Study: General Nonfiction

Competition: US & Canada

Loyola University

Lia Purpura is the author of seven collections of essays, poems, and translations—Rough Likeness (essays, Sarabande Books, 2012), King Baby (poems, Alice James Books, 2008), On Looking (essays, Sarabande Books, 2006), Increase (essays, University of Georgia Press, 2000), Stone Sky Lifting (Ohio State UP, 2000), The Brighter the Veil (Orchises Press, 1996) and Poems of Grzegorz Musial: Berliner Tagebuch &Taste of Ash (translations, Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1998).

Her honors include Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (for On Looking), the Beatrice Hawley Award (for King Baby), the Associated Writing Programs Award (for Increase), the Ohio State University Press Award (for Stone Sky Lifting), four Pushcart Prizes, an NEA Fellowship in prose, a Fulbright Fellowship in translation, grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, and multiple residencies at the MacDowell Colony and others. 

Her work appears in Best American Essays, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Orion, Agni, Field, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and in many anthologies.

Lia Purpura was born and grew up on Long Island, New York, and is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching/Writing Fellow in Poetry. Currently, she is Writer in Residence at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, and teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA Program, in Tacoma, Washington. She recently served as Bedell Visiting Writer at the University of Iowa’s MFA Program in Nonfiction, Visiting Professor at the University of Alabama’s MFA Program, Visiting Writer at the Bennington Writing Seminars, and Visiting Artist at the Warren and Patricia Benson Forum on Creativity at Eastman Conservatory, in Rochester, New York. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, conductor Jed Gaylin, and their son.

Of Rough Likeness, Phillip Lopate has written, “Lia Purpura is at the forefront of the New Essay, and this latest book (her best) takes us much closer into the rough terrain of her quirky mind than she has ever gone before. The surprises and insights keep coming. Rough Likeness is an astonishment.”   Leah Hager Cohen wrote, “Lia Purpura is fierce. She creates a kind of word origami, folding phonemes and inquiries into intricate paper delights. Then she holds a magnifying glass over them, focusing her rapturous attentions through the lens, until twists of smoke appear, and geometries of flame. . . . If language is, as she suggests in one essay ‘a game we all agree to play,’ then Purpura is at once a master of the game and a soulful, wild playmate.”  Donna Seaman of Booklist, noted about On Looking: “Purpura . .. puts readers into a state of aesthetic arrest, as well as surprise, discomfort, and meditative pleasure via her pristine, radiant, and unflinching collage-like essays.”


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