Aliki Barnstone was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1956, and grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. She is the daughter of Willis Barnstone, a writer, and Elli Tzalopoulou-Barnstone, an artist. Until the mid-70s, Aliki spent summers in Brandon, Vermont with her parents and her brothers, Robert and Tony. The Barnstones lived near Ruth Stone, and her three daughters, Marcia, Phoebe, and Abigail. The families often gathered at Ruth’s home in Goshen and sat around her fireplace for delicious spaghetti dinners and the poetry game.
Aliki’s mother wouldn’t allow TV in theirVermont home, though the family pulled a trailer carrying the portable dishwasher because, Elli says now, otherwise she wouldn’t have gotten any painting done. The kids spent their summers walking the fields, playing games, making up plays, drawing and painting, and writing. Aliki began writing as a very young child, and in 1968, when she was twelve years old, her book of poems, The Real Tin Flower, was published by Macmillan, with an introduction by Anne Sexton.
Barnstone was educated at Brown University (A.B. and M.A.), Middlebury Language School in Spanish, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D.) She has taught at Beloit College, Marquette University, Bucknell University, the University of South Dakota, the Prague Summer Seminar, and was writer-in-residence at Villanova University. From 1999-2007, she was Professor in the Department of English’s International MFA Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Barnstone spent the fall of 2006 in Greece as a Senior Fulbright Scholar. Her project was to write a sequence of poems, "Eva's Voice," in the voice of an imaginary poet, Eva Victoria Perera, a Sephardic Jew from Thessaloniki, who survives the Holocaust. "Eva's Voice" appears as a section in Barnstone's Dear God, Dear Dr. Heartbreak: New and Selected Poems (the Sheep Meadow Press, 2010). She is Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She and Scott Cairns launched the Summer Seminars in Greece the summer of 2008.
In addition to The Real Tin Flower and Dear God, Dear Dr. Heartbreak, her other books of poems are the forthcoming, Bright Body (White Pine Press), Blue Earth (Iris Press, 2004), Wild With It (Sheep Meadow, 2002), a National Books Critics Circle Notable Book, Madly in Love (Carnegie-Mellon, 1997), Windows in Providence (Curbstone, 1981),
Other books are The Collected Poems of C.P. Cavafy: A New Translation (W.W. Norton, 2006) and Changing Rapture: Emily Dickinson’s Poetic Development (University Press of New England, 2007). She has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize twice. She edited A Book of Women Poets from Antiquity to Now (Schocken, 1980; second edition, 1992), The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era (University Press of New England, 1997), Voices of Light: Spiritual and Visionary Poetry by Women from Ancient Sumeria to Now, which appeared in paper as The Shambhala Anthology of Women’s Spiritual Poetry (Shambhala, 1999; 2003). In her edition of H.D.’s Trilogy (New Directions, 1998), Barnstone wrote the introduction and the readers’ notes. Barnstone’s poems and translations have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, New Letters, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She has recorded a collaborative CD, Wild Wind, with musician Frank Haney. She is serving as a consultant on a new documentary film and book by Dr. Norris J. Chumley, set in Bloomington, their hometown.