melissa balmain - writer, editor, poet, critic and translator


Melissa Balmain is a humorist, poet, journalist, and teacher. Since 2012 she has edited Light, the country's longest-running journal of light verse (founded in 1992 by John Mella). Balmain's poems have appeared in The American BystanderAmerican Life in Poetry, EcotoneThe Hopkins ReviewLighten Up Online, Literary Matters, MeasureMezzo Cammin, The New Criterion, The New Verse News, Poetry Daily, RattleThe Spectator (UK), Verse Daily, The Washington Post, and many anthologies; her prose in The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, SlackjawWeekly Humorist, and elsewhere.

Her first full-length poetry collection, Walking in on Peoplewas chosen by X.J. Kennedy for the Able Muse Book Award. Her new, shorter collection is The Witch Demands a Retraction: Fairy-Tale Reboots for Adults, illustrated by Ron Barrett (Humorist Books), and her next full-length collection, Satan Talks to His Therapist, is due out in fall 2023 from Paul Dry Books. 

A former columnist for Success magazine and other publications, Balmain is the author of a memoir, Just Us: Adventures of a Mother and Daughter (Faber and Faber). She has received national honors for her journalism, including the National Society for Newspaper Columnists humorous columnist award and multiple Pulitzer Prize nominations. In poetry, she won the 2020 Poetry by the Sea sonnet award and has been a finalist for the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award (twice), and the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award. She teaches at the University of Rochester and lives nearby with her husband and two children. You'll find recent interviews and readings with Balmain here, here, and here.