Lloyd Schwartz was born on November 29, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Queens College of the City University of New York in 1962 and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1976.
Schwartz's most recent book of poetry is Little Kisses (University of Chicago Press, 2017), which was preceded by Cairo Traffic (University of Chicago Press, 2000), Goodnight, Gracie (University of Chicago Press, 1992), and These People (Wesleyan University Press, 1981). He is also editor of two volumes of collected works by Elizabeth Bishop: Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose and Letters (Library of America, 2008), which he co-edited with Robert Giroux, and Prose (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). Schwartz's most recent book, Music In—and On—the Air (PFP, 2013), is a collection of his music reviews that appeared on NPR's Fresh Air.
About his work, the poet Richard Howard has said: "The poet has extended his reach as well as his grasp, and we are the richer for it, through no less ravaged: these people (and these poems) are devastated by life, of which they offer us, unnervingly, the flagrant shards."
In 1994, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, and in 2019 he was named a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in Poetry. Schwartz is the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Boston and has also has taught at Boston State College, Queens College, and Harvard University. He is also a regular commentator on NPR's Fresh Air and a contributing arts critic for the ARTery, the arts journal for Boston’s public radio station WBUR. In 2019, he was named the Poet Laureate of Somerville, Massachusetts, a two-year appointment, which was extended for a third year. In 2021, Schwartz received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.