Photo credit: Jim O'Donnell

Leslie Ullman

b. 1947

Current City, State, Country

Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago, Illinois, USA


Leslie Ullman was born in Chicago and raised in Winnetka, IL She attended Skidmore College and graduated with a BA in English in 1969. She then  worked for Mademoiselle Magazine for a year, having won a Guest Editorshop after graduation, and then moved to Bennington, Vermont where she co-edited Bennington College’s alumni magazine Quadrille until 1972. For the next two years she attended the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and graduated in 1974 with an MFA in Poetry, moved to Kansas City with her then-husband and embarked on part-time teaching of creative writers and reviewing books for the Kansas City Star. In 1979, her first book of poetry won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and shortly after she began a 27-year career of teaching creative writing at the University of Texas El Paso, where she spent several years directing the Creative Writing Program and established the Bilingual MFA Program. Early in her tenure at UT-El Paso, she also joined the faculty the newly-formed non-residential MFA Program at Vermont College, now Vermont College of the Fine Arts, where she has been on the faculty for 40 years. Upon retiring from her residential university job, she moved to Taos, New Mexico, where she taught skiing for fifteen years at Taos Ski Valley, while also writing and working with her Vermont students. She is married to Erik Ranger and continues to enjoy the landscape and athletic activities available in the mountains and high-desert setting.

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

I was raised in a resolutely assimilated Jewish family, both sets of grandparents having grown
up in America and attended college. One pair lived in the upper East Side of New York and one
pair owned horse barns and timberland in a rural Wisconsin farming community until the
Depression landed them in a Chicago suburb, and both grandfathers and one grandmother
sustained successful careers and businesses. By the time I came along, Jewish observance had
nearly disappeared, and the liberal Reform temple I attended offered what struck me more as
history classes than compelling spiritual guidance. However, when at age 15 I shared with our
Rabbi my wish to explore other belief systems, he assured me that such explorations were not in
conflict with the faith in which I would soon be confirmed, and that to be Jewish was to be a
seeker. His permission ended up being a gift. Without my realizing it, he set me up to lean into
life, and later into writing, in a spirit of inquiry and openness—to search and question and probe,
and eventually to identify with writers, many of them Jewish, whose philosophical/metaphysical
inclinations guided or ran in tandem with mine.

Published Works

Forthcoming: Unruly Tree (University of New Mexico Press, 2024) and a collection tentatively titled The Partial World Offered Us (3:Taos Press, 2023)
The You That All Along Has Housed You, a Sequence (Nine Mile Press, 2019)
Progress on the Subject of Immensity (University of New Mexico Press, 2013)
Slow Work Through Sand (winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize; University of Iowa Press, 1998)
Dreams by No One’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987)
Natural Histories (Yale University Press, 1979)

Library of Small Happiness (a hybrid collection of craft essays, most previously published in The Writers Chronicle; 3:Taos Press, 2017)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Current Title

Faculty in poetry / Vermont College of the Fine Arts


BA in English, Skidmore College, 1979
MFA, University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, 1974

Languages of Publication(s) and Poets Translated

French and Spanish, a poem here and there, mostly French poems as part of a translation conference in Paris in the late '80's.

Subject Matter