Winner of the 2020 W.S. Porter Prize
The youngest of six children, Lisa Cupolo grew up in the Honeymoon Capitol of the World: Niagara Falls, Canada. At thirteen she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and spent much of her teens and twenties battling it. She has spoken about how this trial was actually one of the blessings of her life, because it led her to writing. She learned to escape, creating stories when reality got difficult, and she imagined herself as her characters, and in the real world, she became an observer.
Always a spiritual seeker, Lisa has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from The University of Western Ontario. In her second year, her single mother put a second mortgage on their suburban home so Lisa could study in Nice, France. That changed everything. Lisa spent the next decade in Europe and her health improved dramatically. She completed a graduate degree in Portrait Photography from The London Institute in England and worked a stint as a paparazzi photographer in London and published celebrity photos in Hello Magazine and The Daily Telegraph and travel shots with Dorling Kindersley and Thomas Cook travel guidebooks.
Back in Canada, her professional life turned toward championing artists, as a photo editor at a stock agency in Toronto and at the Banff Centre for the Arts supporting visual artist residencies. She spent a year in Kisumu, Kenya working at an orphanage and traveling in east Africa and eastern Europe.
After reading Carol Shield’s novel, Unless, Lisa knew she had to pursue her passion for writing and did a course at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver where she was offered an entry level job at HarperCollins back in Toronto. While there, she wrote in the early mornings before work. In time, she became a literary publicist and represented some of her favorite writers: Elmore Leonard, Neil Gaiman, Lionel Shriver, Helen Humphreys, among others, and threw some terrific literary parties with Brick Magazine.
When she met her husband, writer Richard Bausch, Lisa moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where they had their daughter Lila and she completed an MFA in fiction at the University of Memphis. Her stories have been published in Ploughshares, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Narrative, The Idaho Review, and others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference. She now lives in Southern California and is at work on a memoir. She teaches creative writing at Chapman University.