Erika Meitner was born and raised in Queens and Long Island, New York. She attended Dartmouth College (for a BA in Creative Writing and Literature), Hebrew University on a Reynolds Scholarship, and the University of Virginia, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing as a Henry Hoyns Fellow, and her MA in Religious Studies as a Morgenstern Fellow in Jewish Studies.
In 2015, she was the US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, and in 2001-2 she was the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. She has received additional fellowships from MacDowell, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, the Blue Mountain Center, Bethany Arts, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her poems have been anthologized widely, and have appeared in publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Southern Review, The Believer, The Kenyon Review, Tin House, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and APR. She also creates larger-scale documentary photo/text projects on urban environments, including “This is Not a Requiem for Detroit” and “RNC CLE” for Virginia Quarterly Review with Ryan Spencer Reed, and a project currently in progress on Miami and sea-level rise with Anna Maria Barry-Jester.
Meitner is the author of five books of poems. Her first book, Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore, won the 2002 Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and was published in 2003 by Anhinga Press. Her second book, Ideal Cities, was selected by Paul Guest as a winner of the 2009 National Poetry Series competition, and was published in 2010 by HarperCollins. Her third collection, Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls, was published by Anhinga Press in 2011. Her fourth collection of poems, Copia, was published by BOA Editions in 2014 as part of their American Poets Continuum Series, and her newest collection, Holy Moly Carry Me, was also published by BOA Editions in September 2018. Holy Moly Carry Me is the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in poetry, and a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award in poetry. Her sixth book of poems, Useful Junk, is forthcoming from BOA Editions in Spring 2022.
Meitner is a first-generation American: her father is from Haifa, Israel; her mother was born in a refugee camp in Stuttgart, Germany, which is where her maternal grandparents settled after surviving Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, and Mauthausen concentration camps.
In addition to teaching creative writing at UVA, UW-Madison, and UC-Santa Cruz, she has worked as a dating columnist, an office temp, a Hebrew school instructor, a computer programmer, a systems consultant, a lifeguard, a documentary film production assistant, and a middle school teacher in the New York City public school system. As part of her commitment to student mentorship, she is also the creator and steward of the Post-MFA Resources Tumblr.