Phillip Lopate was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, and received a BA from Columbia in 1964, and a doctorate from the Union Graduate School in 1979. He has written four personal essay collections — Bachelorhood (Little, Brown, 1981), Against Joie de Vivre (Poseidon-Simon & Schuster, 1989), Portrait of My Body (Doubleday-Anchor, 1996) and Portrait Inside My Head (Free Pres/Simon & Schuster, 2013); two novels, Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1979) and The Rug Merchant (Viking, 1987) and a pair of novellas (Two Marriages, Other Press, 2008); three poetry collections, The Eyes Don’t Always Want to Stay Open (Sun Press, 1972), The Daily Round (Sun Press, 1976) and At the End of the Day (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010); a memoir of his teaching experiences, Being With Children (Doubleday, 1975); a collection of his movie criticism, Totally Tenderly Tragically (Doubleday-Anchor, 1998); an urbanist meditation, Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan (Crown, 2004); a critical study, Notes On Sontag (Princeton University Press, 2009), a biographical monograph, Rudy Burckhardt: Photographer and Filmmaker (Harry N. Abrams, 2004), and To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction (Free Pesss, 2013). In addition, there is a Phillip Lopate reader, Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003). His latest book is the memoir, A Mother’s Tale, from OSU Press, 2017.
He has edited the following anthologies: The Art of the Personal Essay (Doubleday-Anchor, 1994); Writing New York (Library of America, 1998), Journey of a Living Experiment (Virgil Press, 1979), a best essays of the year series, The Anchor Essay Annual (1997-99), and American Movie Critics (Library of America, 2006). His essays, fiction, poetry, film and architectural criticism have appeared in The Best American Short Stories (1974), The Best American Essays (1987), several Pushcart Prize annuals, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Vogue, Esquire, Film Comment, Threepenny Review, Double Take, New York Times, Harvard Educational Review, Preservation, Cite, 7 Days, Metropolis, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other periodicals and anthologies.
He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He received a Christopher medal for Being With Children, a Texas Institute of Letters award in the best non-fiction book of the year category for Bachelorhood , and was a finalist for the PEN best essay book of the year award for Portrait of My Body. His anthology, Writing New York, received a citation from the New York Society Library and honorable mention from the Municipal Art Society’s Brendan Gill Award.
After working with children for twelve years as a writer in the schools, he taught creative writing and literature at Fordham, Cooper Union, University of Houston, Hofstra University, New York University and Bennington College. He is a professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches nonfiction writing.