Lance Larsen

Lance Larsen has published five poetry collections: What the Body Knows (Tampa, 2018); Genius Loci (Tampa, 2013); Backyard Alchemy (Tampa, 2009); In All Their Animal Brilliance (Tampa, 2005); and Erasable Walls (New Issues, 1998). He has received a number of awards, including a Pushcart Prize, the Tampa Review Prize, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He also writes nonfiction and aphorisms: “When climbing a new mountain, wear old shoes.” His essays have made the Notables List six times in Best American Essays.

As poet laureate of Utah (2012-2017), he made frequent visits to K-12 classrooms and university campuses and helped to promote Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation program for high school students. He also developed Poetry Central, a web page archiving writing prompts used by poets around the state.

Larsen grew up in Idaho and Colorado, served an LDS mission in Chile, then graduated in English from BYU in 1985, with a Spanish minor. While completing a PhD at University of Houston, he served as poetry editor of Gulf Coast and taught creative writing to immigrant grade-school students (often in Spanish)---an experience he considers foundational to later outreach. After graduating in 1993, he returned to BYU, where he currently serves as department chair and as poetry editor of Literature and Belief. He frequently directs study abroad programs in Madrid and London.

In 2013 he was selected as Artist of the Month by Image Journal, which provided the following citation: “Lance Larsen’s poetry inhabits a surreal backyard, blooming with zucchini, peonies, hooves and bones, sheet music by Chopin, and God the Father loping through a vineyard. . . . Many of his poems are soaked with a painterly multiplicity of images frequently from the animal kingdom. In his poem “Why do you keep putting animals in your poems?” he explains, ‘There comes a time you just have to wiggle your pinfeathers, wag your ghost tail, feel your teeth grow long as the ragged salmon throw their bodies upstream.’”

He lives in Springville and frequently runs the nearby Bonneville Shoreline Trail. He collects antiques, plays a scrappy game of basketball, loves Skagen watches, grows hostas with exotic names like Fire and Ice, Blue Angel, and Etched Glass. He and Jacqui are the parents of four adult children. Sometimes he juggles.



  • What the Body Knows, University of Tampa Press, 2018
  • Genius Loci, University of Tampa Press, 2013
  • Backyard Alchemy, University of Tampa Press, 2009
  • In All Their Animal Brilliance, University of Tampa Press, 2005 
  • Erasable Walls, New Issues, 1998