Lesley Wheeler is the author of Poetry’s Possible Worlds; five poetry collections, most recently The State She’s In; and the novel Unbecoming. Recent poems and essays appear in American Poetry Review, Ecotone, Poets & Writers, Poetry, and elsewhere. Poetry Editor of Shenandoah, she lives in Virginia. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @LesleyMWheeler.
Lesley Wheeler’s latest book and debut work of nonfiction, Poetry’s Possible Worlds, was published in May 2022 by Tinderbox Editions. A hybrid of memoir and criticism informed by the cognitive science of “literary transportation”–getting lost in a book–it reads 21st century poetry from a zone of crisis. Wheeler’s fifth poetry collection, The State She’s In, and her debut novel, Unbecoming, appeared in 2020. Her writing has been supported by Bread Loaf, the Sewanee Writers Workshop, Fulbright (New Zealand), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and as a teacher she was honored by a 2011 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia. Poetry Editor of Shenandoah, Wheeler is the Henry S. Fox Professor of English at W&L University.
Wheeler’s previous poetry collections are Radioland (Barrow Street Press, 2015); The Receptionist and Other Tales (Aqueduct, 2012); Heterotopia, selected by David Wojahn for the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize in 2010; Heathen (C&R, 2009); and the chapbooks Propagation (Dancing Girl Press, 2017) and Scholarship Girl (Finishing Line, 2007). Heterotopia was a finalist for the Library of Virginia Award. The Receptionist was named to the Tiptree Award Honor List, now the Otherwise Award, and nominated by Ms. Mentor at The Chronicle of Higher Education for an Ackie (academic novel award). Her poems and essays appear in Kenyon Review Online, Guernica, American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, Crazyhorse, Cimarron Review, Ecotone, Crazyhorse, Subtropics, Poetry, Massachusetts Review, and many other journals.
She is the author of two scholarly books, Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920’s to the Present (Cornell, 2008) and The Poetics of Enclosure: American Women Poets from Dickinson to Dove (Tennessee, 2002). Voicing American Poetry was one of three finalists for the Modernist Studies Association Prize. With Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace, and other members of a feminist editorial collective, she coedited Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-po Listserv (Red Hen, 2008). Her poetry reviews have appeared in Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, Strange Horizons, and many other journals.
In 2015, Wheeler became the Mid Atlantic Regional Council Chair for the AWP, joining the Board of Trustees until 2018. She teaches courses in nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first century poetry in English as well as creative writing and speculative fiction. Wheeler received her BA from Rutgers College, summa cum laude, and her PhD in English from Princeton University. Her partner is fiction writer, comics scholar, playwright, and superheroic blogger Chris Gavaler; they live in Lexington, Virginia.
Find out more in The Virginia Poets Database