Alice Lyons was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in its suburbs. She has earned degrees in European history, sociolinguistics, and fine art from Connecticut College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Boston University. She earned a PhD from the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen's University, Belfast. She served on the faculty at Maine College of Art in Portland for a number of years before moving, in 1998, to a rural village in County Roscommon, Ireland.
Lyons often collaborates with artists and filmmakers on interdisciplinary and public art projects that explore poetry and its publication in new contexts and media. She has co-directed poetry films with animator/fine artist Orla Mc Hardy, including The Polish Language (2009), which has received numerous film festival awards and citations.
Her year-long public art project in the community of Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim is documented in the book Staircase Poems (The Dock, 2006). Developers, a poetry film project made in response to the impact of unprecedented economic boom and bust on rural Ireland, is based on the poem of the same title that appeared in Poetry magazine (December 2011 issue) and premiered at Oslopoesi Poetry Festival, Norway in 2013. She has received the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry, the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary, and grants in literature and film from the Arts Council of Ireland.
Lyons lives in Sligo, Ireland, where she works as a writer, curator, and teacher. She directs Poetry Now, an international festival of poetry in Dun Laoighaire.