Lisa Russ Spaar headshot

Lisa Russ Spaar

Professor, Interim Director of Creative Writing

407 Bryan Hall

Office Hours: By appointment.

Creative Writing


M.F.A. University of Virginia, 1982
B.A. University of Virginia (summa cum laude), 1978


Orexia: Poems, Persea Books, 2017
Vanitas, Rough: Poems, Persea Books, 2012
All That Mighty Heart: London Poems, University of Virginia Press, 2008
Satin Cash: Poems, Persea Books, 2008
The Land of Wandering, University of Virginia Press, 2005
Blue Venus: Poems, Persea Books, 2004
Acquainted With the Night: Insomnia Poems, Columbia University Press, 1999
Glass Town: Poems, Red Hen Press, 1999
Blind Boy on Skates, Trilobite Chapbooks of the University of Northern Texas Press, 1989
Cellar, Alderman Press, 1983

Poems published in

The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Slate, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, Denver Quarterly, Shenandoah, Indiana Review, The Paris Review, The Southwest Review, The Boston Review and elsewhere.

Anthologized Work in

  • The Poet's Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales, Story Line Press, 2003.
  • Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia, University of Virginia Press, 2003.
  • Best American Poetry 2008, Scribner, 2008.

Essays, Chapters, Reviews

  • "Alone with America:  An Essay Review"  Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2019 issue
  • “McCoy’s Hands at the Piano,”  in Turn It Up!: Music in Poetry from Jazz to Hip-Hop, ed. Stephen Cramer with Neil Shepard (Sundog Press, forthcoming 2019).
  • “Skirting Heaven:  The Late Dream-Work of Jean Valentine in Shirt in Heaven,” an essay/chapter in American Women Poets in the 21st Century, Volume III, (forthcoming, Wesleyan University Press, 2019)
  • "A Trove of Continental Fiction Explores Loss" Rev.  New York Times Book Review, January 2018
  • "A Conversation with Charles Wright" IMAGE: ART, FAITH & MYSTERY (Spring 2016)
  • A Monthly Column about Second Books of Poetry for the Los Angeles Review of Books,
  • "Breaking Bad: The Outlaw Stylings of Brock-Broido, Cushman, and Wright." Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2014.
  • "Insomnia and the Poet," The New York Times, March 2013.
  • "Second Acts:  A Second Look at Second Books of Poems," The Los Angeles Review of Books.
  • Weekly poetry posts & reviews as Arts & Academy poetry editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education Review.
  • "Seeing in the Dark"  The New York Times (9 March 2010).
  • “Ecstatic Poetry” for What Should I Read Next?  70 University of Virginia Professors Recommend Readings in History, Politics, Literature, Math, Science, Technology, the Arts, and More, ed. Jessica Feldman, forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press, 2008.
  • "Manifest Identities," in Shenandoah, Fall 2008.
  • “Ecstatic Poetry” and “Nursery Rhymes” in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (forthcoming)Rev. of Charles Wright’s Scar Tissue in Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2007.
  • Review of Stephen Cushman’s Heart Island in Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 2007.
  • Review of Ted Kooser’s Delights and Shadows in Shenandoah 55/2, Fall 2005“The Lexicon of Ruin: A Review of Julie Suk’s The Dark Takes Aim” in American Book Review, July/ August 2004 (Vol. 25, Issue 5)
  • Review of Torn Sky by Debra Nystrom, Meridian, 2004.
  • "Lines On-Line: Internet Journals Give Poetry a Global Habitation," The Chronicle of Higher Education, Winter 2003.
  • Essay Review of Sparrow by Carol Muske, Shenandoah, Fall 2003.
  • Essay Review of Waterborne by Linda Gregerson and What Do We Know by Mary Oliver, Shenandoah, Volume 52, Number 4, Winter 2002.
  • "Dancing in the Dark: A Review of Nancy Huston's Slow Emergencies" Washington Post Book World, 18 March 2001.
  • "To Sleep, Perchance: the Poetry of Insomnia," The Chronicle Review of The Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 October 2000; purchased for reprint in The Australian (circulation 350,000, Sydney, Australia), November 2000.
  • Review. "Wild Decembers, by Edna O'Brien," Virginia Quarterly Review.
  • Review. "Michael Collier's The Ledge and William Matthews' After All: Last Poems," in Gadfly, July/August 2000.


  • Horace W. Goldsmith National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professorship at the University of Virginia, 2016-2018
  • Selected as one of 3 finalists for the 2016 Robert Cherry Award for Great Teaching at Baylor University ($15,000 honorarium and $10,000 to UVA home department)
  • Winner of a Pushcart Prize 2016 for "Temple Gaudete"
  • One of 5 finalists for the 2014 National Book Circle Critics Award for Excellence in Reviewing
  • Recipient of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Faculty Prize, University of Virginia, 2013
  • Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize 2011
  • Edward L. Ayers Faculty Fellow in Advising, 2011-2013
  • State Council for Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, 2010
  • Library of Virgina Award for Poetry, 2009
  • 2009 All-University Teaching Award
  • 2009/2010 Guggenheim Fellowship
  • Best American Poetry, 2008
  • Mead Honored Faculty, 2007-2008
  • Emily Clark Balch Award of the Virginia Quarterly Review, 2001
  • Rona Jaffe Award for Emerging Women Writers, 2000
  • 1999 David A Harrison III Award for Undergraduate Advising, University of Virginia
  • Inclusion in Best Essay Reviews of 1998, in The Dictionary of Literary Biography, 1999
  • Finalist, National Poetry Series, 1997
  • Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Artists Award, 1996
  • Academy of American Poets Prize - University of Virginia, 1978
  • Hoyns Fellowship in Poetry - University of Virginia, 1980