Lesley Wheeler is a writer and professor born in New York, raised in New Jersey, and residing in Virginia. Her first novel, Unbecoming, is forthcoming from Aqueduct Press. Tinderbox Editions will publish her next poetry collection, The State She’s In, in 2020 as well as an essay collection, Poetry’s Possible Worlds, in 2021. She is Poetry Editor of Shenandoah.
Wheeler’s books include Radioland (Barrow Street Press, 2015); The Receptionist and Other Tales (Aqueduct, 2012); Heterotopia (Barrow Street, 2010), Heathen (C&R, 2009); Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920’s to the Present (Cornell, 2008); The Poetics of Enclosure: American Women Poets from Dickinson to Dove (Tennessee, 2002); and the chapbooks Propagation (Dancing Girl Press, 2017) and Scholarship Girl (Finishing Line, 2007). With Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace, and other members of an editorial collective, she coedited Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-po Listserv (Red Hen, 2008). Her poems and essays appear in Gettysburg Review, Cimarron Review, Ecotone, Crazyhorse, Subtropics, Poetry, Slate, and many other journals. She writes micro-reviews for Kenyon Review Online.
The Henry S. Fox Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, Wheeler has held fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation (New Zealand), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the American Association of University Women. In 2015, she became the Mid Atlantic Regional Council Chair for the AWP, joining that organization’s Board of Trustees until 2018. Her second collection, Heterotopia, was selected for the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize by David Wojahn and was a finalist for the Library of Virginia Award. The Receptionist was named to the Tiptree Award Honor List and nominated by Ms. Mentor at The Chronicle of Higher Education for an Ackie (both rarely given to speculative campus novellas in terza rima). Wheeler received her BA from Rutgers College, summa cum laude, and her PhD in English from Princeton University.
In 2011, Wheeler received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia. She teaches courses in twentieth- and twenty-first century poetry in English as well as speculative fiction, creative writing, introductory poetry courses, and composition. Seminar topics include Protest Poetry; African American Poetry; Documentary Poetics; Poetry and Community; Poetic Forms; Skeptics and Mystics in British and Irish Poetry; and Being Difficult: US Poetry from 1900-1950. She occasionally runs one-day workshops on topics such as rhyme as a generative strategy. Her partner is fiction writer, comics scholar, playwright, and superheroic blogger Chris Gavaler.