Photo Credit: Leonard Kress

Leonard Kress

b. 1950

Current City, State, Country

Blackwood, New Jersey, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Toledo, Ohio, USA


Leonard Kress grew up in and around Philadelphia. He studied religion at Temple University, Creative Writing at Columbia University, and Polish at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. He has published poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and translations in literary journals like Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, and Harvard Review and seven poetry collections, most recently, Living in the Candy Store and Other Poems, Walk Like Bo Diddley, and The Orpheus Comlpex. He has also published a translation of the 19th century Polish Romantic epic, Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz. He has been awarded two Individual Artist Fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and three Fellowships in poetry and playwriting from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Kress teaches Humanities courses at Temple University in Philadelphia.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

My relation to Judaism and Jewish culture is complicated and, perhaps, best characterized as Talmudic. If traditional Judaism (by which I mean Orthodox and Conservative approaches in America) is at the center of this question, then my varied and contradictory responses surrounding this serve as argument, critique, alternative, devotion, and orneriness. I am deeply rooted in Eastern European Ashkenazi traditions, my grandparents having emigrated from Warsaw, Vilna, Kovno, and Minsk. My father from Brooklyn and the Bronx and my mother from Jersey City. And if my present writing life shares anything in common with those ancestors it is that same tension between shtetl Jew and Enlightenment Jew. (My maternal grandfather the Rabbi and my father the scientist.) I have translated extensively from Polish and have spent much time (often as the lone Jew) in Poland and to some extent, Lithuania. Most of my writing remains in the realm of Midrash, though perhaps that would not be obvious to many readers.

Published Works

Poetry (full-length collections)
Craniotomy Sestinas (Kelsay Books, 2020)
Living in the Candy Store and Other Poems (Encircle Publications, 2018)
Walk Like Bo Diddley (Black Swamp Poetry Press, 2016)
Sappho’s Apples(HarrowGate Press, 2010)
The Orpheus Complex
 (Main Street Rag Press, 2009)
Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz; Translation of 19th Century Polish Epic (HarrowGate Press, 1986)

Poetry (chapbooks)
Orphics (Kent State University Press, 2010)
Craniotomy (Moonstone Press, 2019)
Thirteens (Aureole Press, 2014)
Braids & Other Sestinas (Seven Kitchens Press, 2011)
The Centralia Mine Fire (Flume Press, 1987)
Tryst: From the Life and Death of Chopin (Lalka Press, 1976)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Current Title

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Temple University, Philadelpia, PA


Columbia University, New York, Creative Writing (Poetry): MFA
University of Illinois, Chicago, Chicago, IL, (English): MA
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, (Religion) BA

Non-Degree Education
University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, Graduate courses in Philosophy
Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, Polish Language and Literature
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, Completed Coursework for PhD in English

Languages of Publication(s) and Poets Translated

Polish (Adam Mickiewicz, Cyprian Norwid, Jan Kochanowski)

Subject Matter