Joseph Lease

Joseph Lease profile image

Joseph Lease's critically acclaimed books of poetry include The Body Ghost (Coffee House Press, 2018), Testify (Coffee House Press, 2011), and Broken World (Coffee House Press, 2007).

Lease’s poems "'Broken World' (For James Assatly)" and "Send My Roots Rain" were anthologized in Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology.

"'Broken World' (For James Assatly)" was also anthologized in The Best American Poetry (Robert Creeley, guest editor).

Lease's poem “Free Again (Why don’t people)” was published in the New York Times.

Marjorie Perloff wrote: “The poems in Joseph Lease’s Broken World are as cool as they are passionate, as soft-spoken as they are indignant, and as fiercely Romantic as they are formally contained . . . Lease has complete command of his poetic materials. His poems are spellbinding in their terse and ironic authority: Yes, the reader feels when s/he has finished, this is how it was -- and how it is. An exquisite collection!”

Of The Body Ghost, David Shapiro wrote: "When I was very young, my father a 'skin doctor' would show gleaming models of body parts at medical fairs. They frightened my sisters but they were also illuminations of a whole world. Joseph’s poems are like these terrifying wholes/holes. They travel into us. Joseph has been making an American Buddhist poetry, and he is as maximalist as flesh and bone. He gives me the sensation that poetry is in gleaming hands, healing and grasping and letting go. He is the future of poetry."

Michael Bérubé called Broken World “remarkably inventive and evocative work from Joseph Lease, one of the finest poets writing today.”

Lease’s poetry readings are collected at PennSound, The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, KQED (NPR), The Scottish Poetry Library, and The Poetry Project.

Lease has been asked to read at numerous colleges and universities including Stanford University, San Francisco State University, University of Minnesota, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Louisiana State University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Sonoma State University, Sacramento State University, SUNY-Buffalo, Otis College of Art and Design, Pacific Northwest College of Art, City College (San Francisco), West Virginia University, University of Colorado-Denver, Brown University, and elsewhere.

Lease has received The Academy of American Poets Prize and numerous grants and awards in poetry and poetics from Columbia University, Brown University, Harvard University, and California College of the Arts.

He is a member of the advisory board of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.

Professor, Writing
Professor, Writing and Literature

MFA, Brown University; PhD, Harvard University