Born in 1952 in Troy, New York, Alice Fulton attended Catholic schools in her hometown. She began writing poetry during the 1970’s. In 1978, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in creative writing from Empire State College in Albany, New York, and, in 1982, a master of fine arts degree from Cornell University, where she studied with A. R. Ammons. She married artist Hank De Leo in 1980.
In 1983, she became an assistant professor of English at the University of Michigan, where she remained until 2001. Fulton has also been a visiting professor of creative writing at Vermont College; the University of California, Los Angeles; Ohio State University; and the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. During the 1990’s, Fulton served as a judge for many poetry prizes, including the National Book Award, the Lamont Poetry Selection, the Akron Poetry Prize, and the Walt Whitman Award. In 2002, she joined the faculty of Cornell University, becoming the Ann S. Bowers Professor of English in 2004.