In 1974, Lee Sharkey bought a hundred-year-old Pearl platen press, taught herself to set type and print, and produced over the course of a long Maine winter her first poetry chapbook. Over the next four years, under the imprint South Solon Press, she produced two more chapbooks of her own poetry, portfolios of other poets’ work, and ephemera such as poems on paper lunch bags.
Since then, Sharkey has continued to work both on and off the grid as a writer, teacher, and editor. Her poetry collections include Walking Backwards (Tupelo Press, 2016), which Anna Wrobel described in Jewish Currents as “communion, reunion, dialogue—a Hasidic tale repairing the torn fabric of the universe . . . an Einsteinian walk along the space-time continuum of history”; Calendars of Fire (Tupelo Press, 2013); A Darker, Sweeter String (Off the Grid Press); To A Vanished World (Puckerbrush Press), a poem sequence in response to Roman Vishniac’s photographs of Eastern European Jewry in the years just preceding the Nazi Holocaust; and Farmwife (Puckerbrush Press). She has also edited or served as contributing editor to eight literary anthologies, including New Maine Writing and Doors, a collection of visual art and poetry by adults recovering from mental illness.
Sharkey is the recipient of the Abraham Sutzkever Centennial Award in Translation, the Maine Arts Commission's Individual Artist Fellowship in Literary Arts, RHINO’s Editor’s Prize, the Shadowgraph Poetry Prize, and Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Drunken Boat, FIELD, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, Nimrod, The Pinch, Prairie Schooner, The Seattle Review, and many other literary journals.
A graduate of Brandeis University and the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, Sharkey worked for many years as a visiting poet in the schools, and later taught at the University of Maine at Farmington. She is the Senior Editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal, one of the country’s oldest and most respected poetry magazines.