Lee Upton is the author of fourteen books, including Visitations: Stories, from the Yellow Shoe Fiction Series (LSU Press 2017); a sixth collection of poetry, Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles (CSU Poetry Center 2015); The Tao of Humiliation: Stories (BOA 2014); and Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition Boredom Purity & Secrecy (Tupelo 2012). 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.
Her fourth book of literary criticism, Defensive Measures: The Poetry of Niedecker, Bishop, Glück, and Carson, explores how poets make claims to distinctive sensibilities. Her other books of literary scholarship are The Muse of Abandonment: Origin, Identity, Mastery in Five American Poets; Obsession and Release: Rereading the Poetry of Louise Bogan; and Jean Garrigue: A Poetics of Plenitude.
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. Kirkus selected the collection for their listing of “The Best Books of 2014,” one of eleven books in the subcategory of short stories that included collections by a slate of international authors, among them Alice Munro, Paul Theroux, Tove Jansson, and Hilary Mantel.
Lee Upton's poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and in three editions of The Best American Poetry and in The New Yorker, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, Harvard Review, Dublin Poetry Review, New England Review, Poetry, and other magazines. More than five dozen of her short stories have been published or are forthcoming, appearing in such journals as Antioch Review, Bennington Review, World Literature Today, Ecotone, Epoch, Boulevard, Quarterly West, Short Fiction (England), Redivider, Cincinnati Review, Northwest Review, Shenandoah, Ascent, New Ohio Review, and Notre Dame Review. She has published over fifty articles and essays about literature. She publishes aphorisms as well, and has had the good fortune to collaborate with visual artists, including Ed Kerns, Curlee Holton, Jim Toia, and Thom Crawford on artist books and other media.
The composer Kirk O’Riordan’s opera, The Masque of Edgar Allan Poe, with a libretto written by Lee Upton, was given a fully staged performance at the University of Delaware and at Lafayette College in 2016.
Her awards include 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 ForeWord Review Book of the Year Award in the category of writing for Swallowing the Sea. “A Reverse Alphabet for Finishing” was listed among “Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2015” in Best American Essays 2016.
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, where she is the Francis A. March Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence.