Sunday, June 28, 2015

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

Life and career

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. "Though my family landed in the Midwest, we lived in urban or suburban environments," she once wrote. She and her husband, Paul Mueller (d. 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.

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.

Mueller has written book reviews for the Chicago Daily News.



  • 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) â€"winner of the National Book Award
  • Second Language (1986)
  • Waving from Shore (1989)
  • Learning to Play by Ear (1990)
  • Things (1992)
  • Alive Together: New & Selected Poems (1996) â€"winner of the Pulitzer Prize


She has published several volumes of translation:

  • Circe's Mountain by Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1990)


  • Lamont Poetry Prize (1975) for The Private Life
  • National Book Award for Poetry (1981) for The Need to Hold Still
  • Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1997) for Alive Together: New & Selected Poems
  • Carl Sandburg Award
  • National Endowment for the Arts fellowship
  • Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (2002)


External links

  • Newshour PBS television program transcript of interview: "Pulitzer Poet" April 14, 1997

Poems online

  • "Poems by Lisel Mueller" Web page at
  • "Another Version" and "Scenic Route"

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