The literary achievements of A.E. Stallings -- award-winning poet and translator, noted essayist and reviewer – go hand in hand with the high regard Stallings’ readers, critics, and her fellow poets and translators on both sides of the Atlantic have for the Georgia-born writer and her work.
Alicia Elsbeth Stallings grew up in Decatur, Georgia, with her parents and sister. Her father, William M. Stallings, was a Georgia State University professor, and her mother, Alice Anderson Stallings, a librarian and teacher. Stallings attended DeKalb County’s Briarcliff High School, where literary aspirations took hold and she published poems in Cat Fancy and Seventeen Magazine in her teens. Stallings studied Latin at the University of Georgia where she was a Foundation Fellow (AB, 1990), and then she earned a degree in Classical Languages and Literature at Oxford University in England (MSt, 1991). Since 1999 she has lived in Athens, Greece.
In interviews, asked about what influence her work with classical writing has had on her own work. “The ancients taught me how to sound modern,” she told Forbes magazine in 2009. “They showed me that technique was not the enemy of urgency, but the instrument.”
During the early 1990s Stallings published poems frequently in literary journals and compiled several chapbooks of her work. In 1999 her poetry collection, Archaic Smile, won the Richard Wilbur Award, which included its publication by the University of Evansville Press.
Stallings has since published three more collections of her poetry, each to critical applause. Hapax (2006) won the Poets' Prize, from a jury of twenty American poets, as the year’s best book of American poetry. Olives (2012) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her collection Like (2019) was a named finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, whose jury praised Stallings’ “inventive formal poetry that challenges, gives shape to, and delights in how the art form mimics and distorts the universalities of life.”
Stallings’ translation of De rerum natura (The Nature of Things) by the Roman poet/philosopher Lucretius was published as a Penguin Classics book in 2009. The London’s Times Literary Supplement editor called Stallings’ version of the Epicurean classic, “one of the most extraordinary classical translations of recent times.” Her next book translation – the ancient Greek poet Hesiod’s 800-line poem Erga kai Hēmerai (Works and Days), another Penguin Classics publication -- was a finalist for the Anglo-Hellenic League’s Runciman Award. The TLS reviewers selected both Works and Days and Like for their “best book” list of 2018.
In the fall of 2019 Stallings published her most recent book, her translation of the ancient Greek fable The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice (BatrachomyomachiaI).
British literary critic Christopher Ricks has written, "The poems of A. E. Stallings are never less than the true voice of feeling, and always more. For one thing, they contain many feelings and many voices (including those of poets who have gone but who are here still in her translations, among them Lucretius and Hesiod)…. A classicist as was Housman, an American as Eliot once was, at home in and with the Mediterranean, she is able to realize in her poems the myriad minds of Europe.”
Stallings’ poems appear in many anthologies, including the Pushcart Prize series in 1997, The Best American Poetry series on seven different occasions since 1994. Her poems, reviews, and translations appear widely, in such journals as The Atlantic, The Hudson Review, Poetry, The New Yorker, The Sewanee Review, and the (London) Times Literary Supplement. Stallings’ writing has included reportage as well, documenting her recent experiences of both Greece’s financial meltdown and its struggle to cope with waves of refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Among Stallings’ numerous other poetry prizes are the 2004 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award (The Formalist journal), the 1991 James Dickey Prize (Five Points magazine), and the 1997 Eunice Tietjens Prize (Poetry magazine). In 2010 her translation work was recognized by the Willis Barnstone Prize. Stallings has received a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as writing fellowship awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and United States Artists.
In 2011, Stallings was given a MacArthur Foundation fellowship – commonly known as the "genius grant" – which is awarded annually to individuals who have shown "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction." In making the award the foundation said, “Through her technical dexterity and graceful fusion of content and form, Stallings is revealing the timelessness of poetic expression and antiquity's relevance for today.”
In 2012, Stallings was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
A frequent lecturer at conferences and universities, Stallings leads a summer poetry seminar at The Athens (Greece) Centre, and she teaches regularly at the Sewanee (Tenn.) Summer Writers Workshop and the West Chester University (Penn.) international poetry conference.
She is married to journalist John Psaropoulos, and they have two children, Jason and Atalanta.
The following titles by A.E. Stallings are held by the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library:
For the Losers of Things. Decatur, GA: A.E. Stallings, 1993.
Lethe's Licorice River. Decatur, GA: A.E. Stallings, 1994.
New & Used Poems. Decatur, GA: A.E. Stallings, 1997.
The School of Dreams. Decatur, GA: A.E. Stallings, 1998.
Archaic Smile. Evansville, IN: University of Evansville Press, 1999.
Hapax. Evanston, IL.: TriQuarterly Books, 2006.
The Nature of Things / Lucretius ; Translated by A.E. Stallings. London: Penguin Books, 2007.
For Atalanta. Athens, Greece: 2011.
Olives. Evanston, IL: TriQuarterly Books, 2012.
Watching the Vulture at the Road Kill [Broadside]. Berkeley, CA: Hit & Run Press, 2013.
A Ditty for Persephone [Broadside] Farmville, VA: Short Twig Press, 2014.
Works and Days / Hesiod ; Translated by A.E. Stallings. London: Penguin Books, 2018.
Like. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.
The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice: A Tiny Homeric Epic. Translated by A.E. Stallings. Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2019.