Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She earned a PhD in Renaissance drama from the University of Minnesota, and has taught British literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Her first collection of poems, Straight Out of View (1995), won the Barnard Women’s Poets Prize. Subsequent collections include Coming Back to the Body (2000), a Minnesota Book Award finalist, Naming the Stars (2004), winner of the Minnesota Book Award, and First Words (2010).She has received a McKnight Artist Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship and was named Minnesota's Poet Laureate in 2011.
Sutphen has read her poems on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, where host Garrison Keillor described the subjects of Coming Back to the Body as “scenes of the family farm, Paris, London, a dying marriage, stories of plain exaltation and ordinary weariness.” Comfortable with traditional forms, Sutphen is the author of Fourteen Sonnets, a fine-letterpress collection of poems from Red Dragonfly Press. Her poems often reference classic literary works.
Sutphen is a co-editor with Connie Wanek and Thom Tammaro of To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present (2006).