Lucia Perillo

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Lucia M. Perillo is an American poet.


Lucia Perillo grew up in the suburbs of New York City in the 1960s. She graduated from McGill University in Montreal in 1979 with a major in wildlife management, and subsequently worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She completed her M.A. in English at Syracuse University, while working seasonally at Mount Rainier National Park, and moved to Olympia, Washington in 1987, where she taught at Saint Martin's College. For most of the 1990s, Perillo taught in the creative writing program at Southern Illinois University.[1]

Her work has appeared in many magazines such as The New Yorker,[2] The Atlantic Monthly, The Kenyon Review.[3] among others. A traditional poet of (mostly, but not exclusively) free-verse personal reflection, she has written extensively about living with Multiple Sclerosis in her poems and essays.[4] On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths[5] is her most recent book of poetry (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). In 2012 she also published a collection of short fiction, Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain, which was shortlisted for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize.


  • 1989 Samuel French Morse Award, Northeastern University Press
  • 1990 Norma Farber First Book Award, Poetry Society of America for Dangerous Life
  • 1991 PEN/Revson Award, Pen American Center, NY
  • Purdue University's Emery Poetry Prize
  • 1993 Illinois Arts Council Award for Creative Non-Fiction
  • 1994 Finalist, National Poetry Series
  • 1995 Verna Emery Poetry Prize, Purdue University Press
  • 1995 Iowa Poetry Prize
  • 1997 Kate Tufts Discovery Award
  • 1997 Balcones Prize, Austin Community College for The Body Mutinies
  • 1998 Chad Walsh Poetry Prize, The Beloit Poetry Journal
  • 1998 Pushcart Prize for "Bad Boy Number Seventeen"
  • 2000 MacArthur Fellow awards—bestowed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • 2003 Pushcart Prize for "Shrike Tree"
  • 2005 Pushcart Prize for "In the Confessional Mode"
  • 2006 Finalist, L.A. Times Book Prize
  • 2010 Washington State Book Award for Inseminating the Elephant[6]
  • 2010 Bobbit Prize, Library of Congress for Inseminating the Elephant
  • 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry finalist for Inseminating the Elephant
  • 2012 WA State Governor's Arts Medal
  • 2012 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award finalist for Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain
  • 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize finalist for Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain
  • 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in Poetry for On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths[7]
  • 2013 Shelley Memorial Award
  • 2013 Pacific Northwest Book Award for On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths




  • I've Heard the Vultures Singing. Trinity University Press. 2007. ISBN 1-59534-031-9. 


  • Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain. W. W. Norton & Company. 2012. ISBN 9780393083538. 


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