Though born of American parents, Jorie Graham grew up in Italy. Many of her poems reflect this background, especially those about Italian Renaissance paintings and European mystics, such as Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Clare of Assisi, and Saint Teresa of Ávila. She was educated at the Sorbonne, where she studied philosophy. She received a B.A. at New York University, where she studied cinema and began writing poetry. She received an M.F.A. at the University of Iowa in 1978 and later became a member of the permanent faculty in the Writers’ Workshop, a program she directed for several years. In 1999, she began teaching at Harvard University as Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory.