Stanley Plumly was born in Barnesville, Ohio, in 1939. Plumly graduated from Wilmington College in 1962, and received his MA from Ohio University in 1968, where he also did course work toward a PhD.
Plumly's books of poetry include Orphan Hours: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2013); Old Heart (W. W. Norton, 2007), nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Paterson Poetry Prize; The Marriage in the Trees (Ecco Press, 1997); Boy on the Step (1989); Summer Celestial (1983); Out-of-the-Body Travel (1977), which won the William Carlos Williams Award and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Giraffe (1973); and In the Outer Dark (1970), which won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award.
Plumly also published the nonfiction books The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner with Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb (W. W. Norton, 2016), winner of the Truman Capote Award; Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (W. W. Norton, 2008); and Argument & Song: Sources & Silences in Poetry (Other Press, 2003).
He edited the Ohio Review from 1970 to 1975 and the Iowa Review from 1976 to 1978. He has taught at numerous institutions including Louisiana State University, Ohio University, Princeton, Columbia, and the Universities of Iowa, Michigan, and Houston, as well as at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in 1978 and 1979.
Plumly's honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram-Merrill Foundation Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He served as a professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. He died on April 11, 2019.