Eric Pankey was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1959, and educated in the public school system, completing his undergraduate work in 1981 at University of Missouri-Columbia and his Master of Fine Arts in 1983 at the University of Iowa. He is the author of eight collections of poems. His first collection, For the New Year, was selected as the winner of the Walt Whitman Award by the Academy of American Poets and published by Atheneum in 1984. In 1988, Atheneum published his second collection, Heartwood, which was reissued by Orchises Press in 1998.
His next three collections were published by Alfred A. Knopf: Apocrypha in 1991, The Late Romances in 1997 and Cenotaph in 2000. Ausable Press published his next three books: Oracle Figures in 2003, Reliquaries in 2005, and The Pear as One Example: New and Selected Poems 1984-2008 in 2008, and are now available from Copper Canyon Press. His ninth and tenth collections of poems, Trace and Crow-Work, are forthcoming from Milkweed Editions.
His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared widely in such journals as The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Iowa Review, The Yale Review, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Partisan Review, and The Kenyon Review. His work has been supported by fellowships from The National Endowment for Arts, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Program at George Mason University, where is Professor of English and the Heritage Chair in Writing.