MacArthur Fellows Program

Lucia M. Perillo

Poet | Class of 2000

Carbondale, Illinois
42 at time of award
October 24, 2016
Area of Focus
Published July 1, 2000

About Lucia's Work

Lucia Perillo is a young poet whose signature voice is marked by an urban speed and a narrative style driven by characterization and drama.

In Dangerous Life (1989), Perillo confronts violence through dashing narratives and a direct, precise voice.  For The Body Mutinies (1996) she turns her attention inward, using the notion of illness to capture the struggle between body and spirit with conscientious candor, meticulously accurate language, and comic spirit.  Her collection, The Oldest Map with the Name America (1999), synthesizes seemingly disparate elements of classical and popular culture to create a work that is both personal and universal.  In this intellectually inventive volume, she maintains the intensity of lyric poetry while using free verse and a long-line narrative structure to present emotionally rich and powerful poems.  Perillo is also the author of Luck is Luck (2005).  Her poems have appeared in such periodicals as the New Yorker, the Kenyon Review, and the Atlantic Monthly.


Perillo is an associate professor of creative writing at Southern Illinois University.  Prior to teaching, she worked as a naturalist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and for Mount Rainier National Park.

Perillo received a B.Sc. (1979) from McGill University and an M.A. (1986) from Syracuse University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

Select News Coverage of Lucia M. Perillo
January 11, 2017
"Poet Lucia Perillo Speaks to the Struggles That All Humans Face"
L'Italo Americano
Lucia M. Perillo , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
October 25, 2016
"Lucia Perillo, Whose Illness Shaped Her Poetry, Dies at 58"
The New York Times
Lucia M. Perillo , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
March 18, 2016
"Beautiful Decay: The Poetry of Lucia Perillo"
Publishers Weekly
Lucia M. Perillo , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
August 25, 2014
The New Yorker
Lucia M. Perillo , 2000 MacArthur Fellow
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