Lisel Mueller (February 08, 1924 - ..)
Born: 8th February, 1924
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Poet
Region: Hamburg, Germany, "When I Am Asked", "Alive Together: New and Selected Poems", "Paul Delvaux: The Village of the Mermaids", "The Need to Hold Still"
Notable works: Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award

Lisel Mueller Facts

Biography

Lisel Mueller, nee Lisel Neumann, (born February 8, 1924, Hamburg, Germany), German-born American poet known for her warm introspective poetry. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1997 for her volume Alive Together: New and Selected Poems.

During the mid- and late 1930s, Mueller and her family moved often and abruptly to places such as Italy and France to evade Nazi persecution (her father was a political dissident). In 1939, at age 15, she fled Europe with her mother and sister. Her father, Fritz Neumann, had already acquired a professorship at Evansville (Indiana) College (now the University of Evansville), and the family established a residence there. It was those early experiences that inspired themes pertaining to a cultural and family history in her poems; they are often dour and explicit yet sensuously palpable.

The death of her mother in 1953 prompted Mueller to begin writing in earnest. In "When I Am Asked" she wrote,

Drawn to the modernist school of writing, Mueller was highly influenced by such poets as W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Mueller's lyrical poetry bends toward the mythological, depicting fantastic characters and dreamlike milieus with the sturdy, accessible diction often found in folklore. She wrote of a painter's vision in that vein in "Paul Delvaux: The Village of the Mermaids":

Before achieving widespread acclaim as a poet, Mueller wrote prose. Her first major publication was a book of essays printed in 1965. She also worked as a book reviewer for the Chicago Daily News before becoming a founding member of the Poetry Center of Chicago. Later Mueller frequently taught and gave lectures on creative writing at the University of Chicago, Elmhurst (Illinois) College, and Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont. Some of her other volumes of poetry included The Private Life (1976), Waving from Shore (1989), and Learning to Play by Ear (1990).

Mueller's other literary awards included the National Book Award in 1981 for The Need to Hold Still (1980), and she was named the Illinois Poet Laureate in 1987. In 2002 she received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

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