Lynn Emanuel is the author of several volumes of poetry. She sees her Hotel Fiesta (1984), The Dig (1992), and Then, Suddenly— (1999) as a triptych exploring the convention and flexibility of the book, and the agency of readers and writers. As poet Eavan Boland notes, “Lynn Emanuel’s poems have a rare power: they connect to the world through estrangement.”

The Dig received the National Poetry Series Award. Emanuel’s work has also been awarded a Pushcart Prize and has been featured in several Best American Poetry anthologies and the Oxford Book of American Poetry. She has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Eric Matthieu King Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Emanuel writes poems concerned with ideas of movement and identity. “What I always look for in my work,” she says, “is tension, the tension between, for instance, a transparent narrative and a number of other possibilities for poems. I’m interested in the slippery text, the multi-vocal text, and the text that can investigate itself and the possibilities of different positions and stances.”

Influenced by Gertrude Stein and Italo Calvino and his If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Emanuel’s frequently work engages the conventions of noir: the recycling of iconic images, the stark color palette, and the tension between stillness and movement, light and grime. Describing the evolution of her work in the context of her increasing intimacy with death, beginning with her father’s death during the composition of Then, Suddenly—, Emanuel says she has largely abandoned the lyric because “with so many dead, it feels grotesque to sing.”
Her recent work, including Noose and Hook (2010), explores violence, the self, and perspective. Noose and Hook includes a long monologue sequence, “The Mongrelogues,” that is told from a dog’s point of view. In Poets’ Quarterly, Adam Tavel described it as “a bizarre alchemy of Pilgrim’s Progress and Berryman’s Dream Songs … in an inimitable dialect that marries the antiquated syntax of John Donne with the phonetic spelling in George Herriman’s ‘Krazy Kat’ comics.”

Emanuel earned a BA from Bennington College, an MA from City College of New York, where she studied with Adrienne Rich, and an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has taught at the Warren Wilson Program in Creative Writing, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the University of Pittsburgh.



  • Oblique Light, Slow Loris Press (Pittsburgh), 1979.
  • Hotel Fiesta, University of Georgia Press (Athens), 1984.
  • The Dig, University of Illinois Press (Urbana), 1992.
  • The Dig and Hotel Fiesta (two volumes), University of Illinois Press (Urbana), 1995.
  • Then, Suddenly—, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999.
  • Noose and Hook, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010.
  • The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016.


  • (With David St. John) Pushcart Prize Anthology, 1994-95.


  • Contributor to journals and anthologies, including the American Poetry Review, Georgia Review, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best American Poetry, 1994, 1995, 1998, and The Morrow Anthology of Younger American Poets.

Further Readings


  • Library Journal, December, 1984, Natalie T. Riede, review of Hotel Fiesta, p. 2284.
  • New York Times Book Review, September 20, 1992, Frances McCue, review of The Dig, p. 46.
  • Poetry, November, 1985, Grace Schulman, review of Hotel Fiesta, p. 112.
  • Publishers Weekly, April 27, 1992, review of The Dig, p. 259; August 30, 1999, review of Then, Suddenly—, p. 78.
  • Southern Humanities Review, spring, 1994, Fred Marchant, review of The Dig, pp. 204-08.
  • Southern Review, autumn, 1993, Deborah Pope, "Everybody's Story," pp. 808-19.



  • Elias, Camelia. Pulverizing Portraits: Lynn Emanuel's Poetry of Becoming. EyeCorner Press, 2010.