Lia Purpura

A Brief Portfolio
January 24, 2024 Purpura Lia

Lichen, Spangled Rosette


Not built to
just do it
but be the slowest,
rough, long drive
into substrates,
into fissures,
grinding, dissolving,
coming to fill
all that’s parted
from itself.




If beyond
is the deepest shape
of now,
what is true
here, is elsewhere
true too,
and though nothing
is exactly
another thing,
versions replicate
so my face
is yours in
such a way
as to be
what I’ve been
looking for.


Self-Portrait as Late Still Life


with coils of bright lemon peel,
white bowl of speckled eggs,
pheasant arranged
beside the cracked
and shadowed round of cheese, and rose-
gilled trout with open eyes
concentrating a light
that loves best
abundance nearing
its undoing.




Out of the night air
water gathered.
Is a gathering
if you meet it there.




Cost meant words
had to be brief,
no space between
facts and next steps –
no “stunned”
no “bereft” no
“sat with her
just yesterday
watching gauzy fishclouds
turn pinecone
then horsehead
then anvil.”

Lia Purpura is the author of ten collections, including essays, poems, translations and artists’ books. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for On Looking (essays), her awards include Guggenheim, NEA, and Fulbright Fellowships, as well as five Pushcart Prizes, the AWP Award and others.  Her work appears in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Orion, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, Agni, Emergence, and elsewhere. Purpura has served as Writer in Residence at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Loyola University; other teaching venues include the Rainier Writing Workshop, the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction MFA program, as well as workshops at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, and the Glenwood Life Recovery Center. Her newest collections are It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful (poems) and All the Fierce Tethers (essays).