Born in Venice Beach, California, Elana Bell received a bachelor of arts from Sarah Lawrence College in 1999. She returned to Sarah Lawrence for graduate study and received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2008. She is the author of Mother Country (BOA Editions, 2020) and Eyes, Stones (LSU Press, 2012), which was selected by Fanny Howe as the winner of the 2011 Walt Whitman Award.
Of her work, Naomi Shihab Nye says “Elana Bell has the gift of reach. Her compact, potent poems create the rich texture of worlds, exploring complicated realities and contradictions, risking empathy, bravely reaching beyond a ‘safe zone’ where only one story merits telling and one suffering deserves respect. How will people ever get anywhere better together without poems like these?”
She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Edward Albee Foundation, and the Brooklyn Arts Council.
Bell has conducted poetry workshops for educators, women in prison, teenagers across the country and abroad, as well as for the Arab Jewish Peace Organization. She curates public art installations and performs with Poets in Unexpected Places, a collective of poets dedicated to bringing poetry to public spaces. She has taught literature and creative writing at CUNY College of Staten Island and Brandeis University, and currently teaches poetry to actors at the Juilliard School. Bell lives in Brooklyn with her husband.