Lisel Mueller

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Lisel Mueller (born February 8, 1924) is a German-American poet. She won the U.S. National Book Award in 1981 and the Pulitzer Prize in 1997.

Life and career[edit]

Mueller was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1924 and immigrated to America at the age of 15. Her father, Fritz C. Neumann, was a professor at Evansville College. Her mother died in 1953.[1] "Though my family landed in the Midwest, we lived in urban or suburban environments," she once wrote. She and her husband, Paul Mueller, who died in 2001, built a home in Lake Forest, Illinois, in the 1960s, where they raised two daughters and lived for many years. Mueller currently resides in a retirement community in Chicago. Her poems are extremely accessible, yet intricate and layered. While at times whimsical and possessing a sly humor, there is an underlying sadness in much of her work.[2][3]

She graduated from the University of Evansville in 1944 and has taught at the University of Chicago, Elmhurst College in Illinois, and Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.[1]

Mueller has written book reviews for the Chicago Daily News.[1]



  • Reading the Brothers Grimm to Jenny
  • Dependencies (1965)
  • Life of a Queen (1970) by Northeast/Juniper Books
  • The Private Life (1975) Lamont Poetry Selection
  • Hope (1976)
  • Voices from the Forest (1977)
  • The Need to Hold Still (1980) —winner of the National Book Award[4]
  • Second Language (1986)
  • Waving from Shore (1989)
  • Learning to Play by Ear (1990)
  • Things (1992)
  • Monet Refuses the Operation (1996)
  • Alive Together: New & Selected Poems (1996) —winner of the Pulitzer Prize[5]


She has published several volumes of translation:



  1. ^ a b c Lisel Mueller at National Names DataBase (NNDB) Web site, accessed October 29, 2006
  2. ^ Lisel Mueller Archived 2006-02-22 at the Wayback Machine at Western Illinois University Web site, accessed October 29, 2006
  3. ^ Curriculum Vitae by Lisel Mueller 1992 at Academy of American Poets Web site, accessed October 29, 2006
  4. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1981". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
    (With essay by Dilruba Ahmed from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  5. ^ a b "Poetry". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-04-07.

External links[edit]

Poems online[edit]