Lisel Mueller

(February 8, 1924)

Biography of Lisel Mueller

Lisel Mueller poet

an American poet.

She was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1924 and immigrated to America at the age of 15. Her father, Fritz Neumann, was a professor at Evansville College. Her mother died in 1953. "Though my family landed in the Midwest, we lived in urban or suburban environments," she once wrote. She and her husband, Paul Mueller (d. 2001) built a home in Lake Forest, Illinois in the 1960s, where they raised two daughters and lived for many years. Mueller currently resides in a retirement community in Chicago. Her poems are extremely accessible, yet intricate and layered. While at times whimsical and possessing a sly humor, there is an underlying sadness in much of her work.

She graduated from the University of Evansville in 1944 and has taught at the University of Chicago, Elmhurst College in Illinois, and Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.

Mueller has written book reviews for the Chicago Daily News.

Lisel Mueller's Works:


Life of a Queen (1970) by Northeast/Juniper Books
Alive Together: New & Selected Poems (1996), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry
Learning to Play by Ear (1990)
Waving from Shore (1989)
Second Language (1986)
The Need to Hold Still (1980), National Book Award
Voices from the Forest (1977)
The Private Life (1975) Lamont Poetry Selection
Dependencies (1965)
Reading the Brothers Grimm to Jenny
Hope (1976)


She has published several volumes of translation:

Circe's Mountain by Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1990)

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Why We Tell Stories

For Linda Foster

Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

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