Heather Altfeld has an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York with majors in both Anthropology and Creative Writing, and an MFA in Poetry from the California State MFA consortium. She teaches in the Honors Program and for the Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities at California State University, Chico.
Heather's second book of poems, Post-Mortem was selected by Eric Pankey for the 2019 Orison Prize, and is forthcoming March 2, 2021. Of the book, Pankey writes, "Post-Mortem is a brilliant, baroque, and word-crazed collection of poems. While the primary mode of the poems is elegiac (many taking as their forms obituaries, autopsies, and kaddishes), one cannot help but delight in Altfeld's reverie and in the breadth and depth of her inquiry, her exploration, her katabasis as she leads us like Virgil through a stunning and elaborate posthumous world."
And poet Ilya Kaminsky says of Post-Mortem: "Rarely has there been a book about death so filled with life. Among the many elegies, dirges and songs of this book, one thing is constant, the inability to stop seeing the wail of loss, and yet, also the inability to stop seeking harmony. This tension, this duality, is what makes the book sing. I love it."
Altfeld's first book, "The Disappearing Theatre" won the 2015 Poets at Work Prize. She is the 2017 recipient of the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America and the 2015 recipient of the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Conjunctions Magazine, Aeon, Orion Magazine, Narrative, ZYZZYVA, Poetry Northwest, and others.
Heather has been a part of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley since 2008 and has received fellowships for residencies at the Vermont Studio Center. One of her favorite reviews was from a third-grade student, who said, "It’s like Heather has 1,001 stories in her head. But even if she only had one, I would want to listen to it, like, a thousand times because she tells it so good."