Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Liz Waldner was raised in rural Mississippi. She received a BA in philosophy and mathematics from St. John's College, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
She wrote for eighteen years before her first book of poems, Homing Devices, was published in 1998 by O Books. Her second book, A Point Is That Which Has No Part (University of Iowa Press, 2000), received the 2000 James Laughlin Award and the 1999 Iowa Poetry Prize.
Since then, she has published several collections of poems, most recently Play (Lightful Press, 2009); Trust (Cleveland State University Press, 2009), winner of the Poetry Center Open Competition; Saving the Appearances (Ahsahta Press, 2004); Dark Would (the missing person) (University of Georgia Press, 2002) winner of the 2002 Contemporary Poetry Series; Etym(bi)ology (Omnidawn Press, 2002); and Self and Simulacra (2001), winner of the Alice James Books Beatrice Hawley Prize.
About Waldner's work, the poet Gillian Conoley has said, "Liz Waldner is a poet of high wit, high intelligence, and great musical rigor—she may be our Postmodern Metaphysical poet plummeting deeper and deeper with each book into the questions of self, sexuality, and knowing...." And the poet and critic Stephen Burt has said, "She has become one of the most convincing and most inspiring of our poets."
Waldner's honors include grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Boomerang Foundation, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Money for Women Fund. She has also received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Djerassi Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony.