Aliki Barnstone was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. She comes from a literary, artistic family: her father is the writer Willis Barnstone, her mother the artist Elli Tzalopoulou-Barnstone, and her brother the poet Tony Barnstone. Aliki Barnstone’s first book of poetry, The Real Tin Flower (1968), was published by Macmillan when she was 12. It featured an introduction by Anne Sexton. Barnstone earned her BA and MA at Brown University and her PhD from the University of California–Berkeley. She is the author of eight books of poetry, including Dwelling (2016), Bright Body (2011), Dear God, Dear Dr. Heartbreak: New and Selected Poems (2009), and Madly in Love (1997; 2014).
Barnstone is also the author of the critical work Changing Rapture: Emily Dickinson’s Poetic Development (2007). She is the translator of The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy: A New Translation (2006), and her translations appear widely. Barnstone has edited the collection A Book of Women Poets from Antiquity to Now (1980; 1992), The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era (1997), and Voices of Light: Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women Around the World from Ancient Sumeria to Now (1999; 2003). She also wrote the introduction and reader’s notes for H.D.’s Trilogy (1998). A former Fulbright scholar to Greece, Barnstone now leads the Summer Seminars in Greece with Scott Cairns. She is professor of English in the creative writing program at the University of Missouri–Columbia. In 2016, Barnstone was named poet laureate of Missouri.