Poet and editor Elise Paschen was born and raised in Chicago. She earned a BA at Harvard University, where she won the Lloyd McKim Garrison Medal and the Joan Grey Untermeyer Poetry Prize, and went on to receive a PhD in 20th century British and American Literature at Oxford University with a dissertation on the manuscripts of poet William Butler Yeats. During her time at Oxford she also co-founded Oxford Poetry.
Influenced by the work of both Yeats and Elizabeth Bishop, Paschen’s poems often engage the intersection of the mythic and the domestic. As the daughter of Osage prima ballerina Maria Tallchief, Paschen has discussed the importance of “family romance” to her origins as a writer. In an interview with the Valparaiso Poetry Review, she noted, “It is a myth I attempt to fathom and understand. As an only child, I often discovered refuge in the world of the imagination … After I learned how to write—literally when I was seven years old—I was able to convert those imaginings into my attempts at plays, stories, and poems.”
Paschen has published several collections of poetry, including Bestiary (2009), Infidelities (1996), winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, and The Nightlife (2017). She is the editor of Poetry Speaks Who I Am (2010) and Poetry Speaks to Children (2005), and the co-editor of Poetry Speaks (2001) and Poetry in Motion (1996). Her own work has been included in the anthologies Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (2003), The Poetry Anthology: 1912-2002 (2002), Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America (1998), and A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women (1994).
Paschen has served as the executive director of the Poetry Society of America. She co-founded the Poetry In Motion program, which posts poems in subways and buses. She has been the Frances Allen Fellow of the Newberry Library as well as poet laureate of Three Oaks, Michigan.
Paschen lives with her family in Chicago, where she teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.