Erika Meitner was born and raised in Queens and Long Island, New York. She attended Dartmouth College (for an A.B. in Creative Writing in 1996), Hebrew University on a Reynolds Scholarship, and the University of Virginia, where she received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 2001 as a Henry Hoyns Fellow, and her M.A. in Religious Studies in 2013 as a Morgenstern Fellow in Jewish Studies.
In 2001-2 she was the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and has received additional fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts (2002, 2004, 2005, 2008-2013), the Blue Mountain Center (2006), and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference (John N. Wall Fellowship, 2003). Her poems have appeared in publications including The Southern Review, Slate, Prairie Schooner, The Kenyon Review, Tin House, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and APR.
Her first book, Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore, won the 2002 Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and was published in 2003 by Anhinga Press. Her second book, Ideal Cities, was selected by Paul Guest as a winner of the 2009 National Poetry Series competition, and was published in 2010 by HarperCollins. Her third collection, Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls, was published by Anhinga Press in 2011. Her newest collection of poems, Copia, is due out from BOA Editions in 2014.
Meitner is a first-generation American: her father is from Haifa, Israel; her mother was born in Stuttgart, Germany, which is where her maternal grandparents settled after surviving Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, and Mauthausen concentration camps.
In addition to teaching creative writing at UVA, UW-Madison, and UC-Santa Cruz, she has worked as a dating columnist, an office temp, a Hebrew school instructor, a computer programmer, a lifeguard, a documentary film production assistant, and a middle school teacher in the New York City public school system.
Meitner is currently an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she teaches in the MFA program, and is also the associate faculty principal of Hawthorn House (one of the residential colleges at Virginia Tech).
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