“Before,” an essay co-written with Danielle Cadena Deulen, was recently published in The Rumpus.


Shara’s essay on life at Washington D.C.’s Kirov Academy of Ballet and reading Li-Young Lee appears via Poetry Daily.

New poems and creative nonfiction in Bennington Review, Magma, and The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood (University of Georgia Press).


First published at Kenyon Review, “Season of Mists” -- an essay on Stanley Plumly, Keats, grief, and the long walks we take together in poetry -- received a “Notable” listing in Best American Essays 2021.

“Status Update” appears in The Nation.

New poems forthcoming in American Poetry Review. Creative nonfiction soon to debut in Copper Nickel and Poetry Northest.


“On Faith” has been chosen for Best American Poetry 2020.

The Explosive Expert’s Wife
wins the Sheila Margaret Motton Prize for Best Collection!

Visit Poetry Daily to read Shara’s thoughts on “Dutch Elm” as part of the What Sparks Poetry series.


“[Lessley] shows these women—'explosive experts' themselves—and the endless, painstaking clean-up which takes place after conflict and war as they scour, like archeologists, the bomb-infested ground, 'hovering above a mapwork of metalwork, brushing / dust from cluster bombs like ash from flatbread.'” Hugh Martin on The Explosive Expert’s Wife for Kenyon Review.

The Explosive Expert’s Wife
is a Finalist for the 2018 Julie Suk Award for best collection of poetry.

“The Ugly American” wins a PUSHCART prize!

The Explosive Expert’s Wife
is a ForewordINDIES Book of the Year Finalist for Poetry!

New poems forthcoming in Memorious, The Gettysburg Review, and IMAGE.

In her column for The Los Angeles Review of Books, Lisa Russ Spaar commends Shara’s “poems of psychological insight, lyric intensity, formal dexterity, and beauty.”

The Explosive Expert’s Wife
is a Montaigne Medal finalist for most thought-provoking books of the year!

“...like some of the best contemporary poets, including Natasha Trethewey, C.D. Wright, Philip Metres, and Patricia Smith, [Lessley] gives attention not only to national and institutional failures, but to the sharp edges of our failures with each other.” A glowing review of The Explosive Expert’s Wife via The Rumpus.


The Morning Star lists The Explosive Expert’s Wife as one of its “books of the year.”


PN Review calls The Explosive Expert’s Wife

“formally balanced...personal, political, and distinctive”


“The Body & the Interior Life”: Ruben Quesada’s Poetry Today with Chicago Review of Books.


Vita Readings podcast offers enthusiastic coverage of “The Explosive Expert’s Wife,” and #SeptWomenPoets.

Santa Fe’s Audio Saucepan features “Before the Bridal Shop.”

Verse Daily presents “The Clinic Bomber's Mother.”


“Figures Made to Touch: An Interview” is now live at 32 Poems!


Poetry Daily features “The Accused Terrorist’s Wife.”

In a podcast for the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, Shara discusses domestic terrorism, sonnets, and women writing war.

Shara joins Acre Books as Assistant Poetry Editor!

Consequence: An International Magazine on the Culture of War publishes an enthusiastic review of The Explosive Expert’s Wife.


The San Francisco Chronicle features “Lines Following a Husband’s Departure” in its STATE LINES column.


The Emma Press includes “The Long Flight Home” in its anthology In Transit: Poems of Travel.


Shara wins The 2018 Collins Prize for the best work appearing in The Birmingham Poetry Review.

The Rumpus Poetry Book Club Chat
with Shara is now online.

Nick Ripatrazone of The Millions names The Explosive Expert’s Wife a “Must-Read” book of poetry for March 2018.

The Poem’s Country, a collection of essays from Pleiades Press and co-edited with poet Bruce Snider is now available for order.

The Rumpus
includes The Explosive Expert’s Wife among its“What to Read” list for 2018. Editor Brian Spears explains why he chose the collection for the magazine’s Poetry Book Club.

The Week
features The Explosive Expert’s Wife on “21 Books to Read in 2018.”

Copper Nickel publishes two poems in its most recent issue and features “Plausible Deniability” online.

The Kenyon Review publishes“Letter to Bruce in Paradise, Indiana,” as well as an interview about epistolary poetry and “Letter to Rania in Amman.”


FSG features Shara’s conversation with Frank Bidart in Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016.

“On the Poetry of Japanese Painting”: with Paula Bohince at LitHub.


The Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen & Robert Atwan, lists “Point Blank” as a Notable Essay.

Still Life with Poem: 100 Natures Mortes, which includes “Less the Shadow,” is now available from Literary House Press.


“Vertigo: Boston / The Middle East” has been honored with the 2015 Patricia Aakhus Award for the best work across all genres appearing in Southern Indiana Review for the given year.


Essay life in Jordan forthcoming in Cincinnati Review.

“Letter to Bruce in Paradise, Indiana” is a finalist for Poetry Society of America’s George Bogin Memorial Award.


Poet Rochelle Hurt’s insightful commentary on “The Clinic Bomber’s Mother” is online. Read the poem here.


A feature on “The Poem’s Country,” a collection of essays Shara is co-editing with poet Bruce Snider, debuts at West Branch.


“The Ugly American” receives the 2015 Erika Mumford Prize from The New England Poetry Club.


“Things Green” will appear in Tinderbox Edition’s forthcoming anthology of lyric essays.


The National Endowment for the Arts awards Shara a 2015 Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry.

“In Jordan’s Northernmost Province” will apear in Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Poetry Justice Anthology (University of Georgia).


“Point Blank,” an essay on guns, mental illness, and forgiveness appears in the Winter 2015 issue of Gettysburg Review.

“Devotions: Coming Out on Matters of Faith,” originally part of Southern Humanities Review’s contemporary poetry symposium, will be reprinted in The Orison Anthology Vol. 1 (Orison Books).


“Aubade: Amman,” from Colorado Review, runs at Poetry Daily.


“Take My Yoke Upon You: Poets & (Dis)Belief”: on Katie Ford, Malachi Black, and Spencer Reece.


Southern Humanities Review names Shara runner-up for the 2014 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize honoring the late Jake Adam York.

New poems and a lyric essay forthcoming in Colorado Review, Hampden-Sydney Review, and Pleiades.

Christian Anton Gerard reviews Two-Headed Nightingale for Smartish Pace.


Shara is pleased to be named the first Anne Spencer Poet-in-Residence at Randolph College.


Poet and physician David Moolten’s essay on “Dynamite: A Prelude” is online. Click here to read the poem.

Interview with 2013 National Book Award Winner Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine.


“Pas de Deux” feature at The Cincinnati Review.


Ryan Teitman shares his thoughts on Two-Headed Nightingale at The Rumpus.


In conversation with National Book Award finalists Frank Bidart (Metaphysical Dog) and Lucie Brock-Broido (Stay, Illusion).

Gratitude to the editors of Crazyhorse for nominating
“In Jordan’s Northernmost Province” for the Pushcart Prize.

Recent interviews with National Book Awards finalists
Adrian Matejke (The Big Smoke) and Matt Rasmussen
(Black Aperture).


Poetry Editor Renee Ashley’s feature essay on Two-Headed Nightingale appears in The Literary Review.


Many thanks to Late Night Library (especially Lucas Bernhardt, Sara Seybold, and Paul Martone) for a lively discussion of Two-Headed Nightingale.


The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College has chosen Shara as the winner of the 2014 Mary Wood Fellowship.


New poems forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Gulf Coast.


Two-Headed Nightingale gets a little love from The Poetry Foundation.


Now available from UNC Press: Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina, which includes Shara’s ode to the Roanoke River Lighthouse.


Two-Headed Nightingale is featured in the January / February 2013 issue of Poets & Writers as part of the magazine’s “Flame & Shine: An Annual Look at Debut Poets.”


The Ecopoetry Anthology (edited by Ann Fisher-Worth & Laura-Gray Street with an introduction by Robert Hass) includes “Tooth of the Lion.”


Shara is pleased to join West Branch as a Contributing Editor. Her column “Split the Lark” will appear annually.


Things Green,” a lyric essay, is available online at New England Review.

How a Poem Happens: interview.


Verse Daily features “Prometheus as Sparrow.”

Upcoming Readings / Guest Appearances

Washington College: Chestertown, Maryland
Poetry Faculty: July 12 to 15

Middlebury College: Ripton, Vermont
Inaugural Paul O’Tremba Returning Fellow: August 17 to 27


Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Waterstones Oxford, Unamuno Poetry Festival, StAnza Poetry Festival (St. Andrews, Scotland), Oxford University Poetry Society, Oxford Poetry Library, OBheal (Cork, Ireland), Desperate Literature (Madrid, Spain), Beacon Festival, Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, University of San Francisco Emerging Writers Festival, Towson University, Baltimore Writer’s Conference, The Wisconsin Book Festival, Washington College, University of Wisconsin at Plattesville, Randolph College, Hampden-Sydney College, University of Cincinnati (Emerging Poets Festival), The Word Works Cafe Muse Series (Washington, DC), George Mason University (Fall for the Book), Boston Public Library, Connecticut College, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Lawrence University, Goucher College, The 92nd Street Unterberg Poetry Center (“Discovery”/The Nation Prize Reading), Colgate University, Stanford University, University of Texas at Austin, Wake of the Storm: Writers to Benefit Hurricane-Ravaged Colleges, Menlo School, Los Altos High School, GW Community School, University of Maryland, American Community School (Amman, Jordan), The Field School