Patricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her memoir Priestdaddy was named one of the 10 best books of 2017 by The New York Times. Her poetry collections include Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, a 2014 New York Times Notable Book. Since 2019, she has been a contributing editor for The London Review of Books. Her first novel, People on the Sun, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books in 2021.

Patricia Lockwood
Patricia Lockwood in 2014
BornFort Wayne, Indiana U.S.
Notable worksPriestdaddy, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, "Rape Joke"

Early life

Lockwood was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana.[1] She has four siblings.[2] Her father Greg Lockwood found religion while serving as a seaman on a nuclear submarine in the Cold War. His conversion first led him to the Lutheran Church, then to its ministry, and finally to Roman Catholicism.[3] In 1984, he asked ordination as a married Catholic priest from then St. Louis Archbishop John May under a special pastoral provision issued by Pope John Paul II in 1980. Lockwood therefore had the unique experience of growing up in a Catholic rectory, with a priest for a father.[4] Lockwood grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and Cincinnati, Ohio,[5] attending parochial schools there, but never went to college.[6] In Lockwood's teenage years, she experienced depression.[7]


"She married at 21, has scarcely ever held a job and, by her telling, seems to have spent her adult life in a Proustian attitude, writing for hours each day from her 'desk-bed,'" according to a profile in The New York Times Magazine.[8] During that period, from 2004 to 2011, Lockwood's poems began to appear widely in magazines including The New Yorker, Poetry, and the London Review of Books.


In 2011, Lockwood joined Twitter and drew attention there for her comedy and poetics, including the ironic "sext" form she originated,[9] her association with the Weird Twitter movement,[10] and her devoted following. The Atlantic named Lockwood to its list of "The Best Tweets of All Time", where she was the only author included twice.[11] In response to Lockwood's popular tweet ".@parisreview So is paris any good or not," The Paris Review has twice issued reviews of Paris.[12][13]

Balloon Pop Outlaw Black

In 2012, small press Octopus Books published Lockwood's first poetry collection, Balloon Pop Outlaw Black. The Chicago Tribune praised the work for its "savage intelligence."[14] The collection was included in end-of-year lists by The New Yorker[15] and Pitchfork[16] and became one of the best-selling indie poetry titles of all time.[8] Its cover features original artwork by cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt.[17]

"Rape Joke"

In July 2013, general interest website The Awl published Lockwood's prose poem "Rape Joke,"[18] which quickly became a viral sensation. The poem develops a personal experience Lockwood had at age 19 into a broader commentary on rape culture.[2] The Guardian wrote that the poem "casually reawakened a generation's interest in poetry."[19] The Poetry Foundation declared the poem "world famous."[20] The poem was selected for the 2014 edition of The Best American Poetry series and won a Pushcart Prize.[21]

Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals

In 2014, Penguin Books published Lockwood's second poetry collection, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals. The book's cover features more original artwork by Hanawalt. The New York Times critic Dwight Garner praised the book for its "indelible, dreamlike details."[22] Stephanie Burt, writing for The New York Times Book Review, lauded it as "at once angrier, and more fun, more attuned to our time and more bizarre, than most poetry can ever get."[23] The Stranger dubbed Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals "the first true book of poetry to be published in the 21st century."[24] Rolling Stone included Lockwood and the book on its 2014 Hot List and The New York Times named it a Notable Book.[25]


Riverhead Books published Lockwood's memoir Priestdaddy in May 2017.[26] The book, called “electric” by The New York Times and “remarkable” by The Washington Post, chronicles her return as an adult to live in her father's rectory and deals with issues of family, belief, belonging, and personhood.[27] In July 2017, Imagine Entertainment announced it had optioned Priestdaddy for development as a limited TV series.[28] The memoir was named one of the 10 best books of 2017 by The New York Times, one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York, Elle, NPR, Amazon,[29] Publishers Weekly, among others, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was awarded the 2018 Thurber Prize for American Humor.[30] In 2019, the Times included the book on its list "The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years." [31]

Essays and criticism

Lockwood’s nonfiction, which combines elements of cultural and literary criticism with gonzo journalism, has appeared widely in venues from The New Republic to Vogue, with subjects as varied as the New Hampshire primary and figure skating. [32] Her writing on authors such as Joan Didion and John Updike has drawn widespread acclaim, with The Paris Review calling Lockwood “a cultural critic at the height of her powers.” [33] Praising her “fine thinking” and “purposeful comedy,” The New York Times Magazine’s Wyatt Mason concluded “nothing will get you to read literary criticism” if Lockwood can’t. [34]



  • Priestdaddy (Riverhead Books, 2017)



  • Balloon Pop Outlaw Black (Octopus Books, 2012)
  • Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals (Penguin Books, 2014)
  • Penguin Modern Poets 2, Controlled Explosions: Michael Robbins, Patricia Lockwood, Timothy Thornton (Penguin Books, 2017)

List of poems

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
What Is the Zoo for What 2013 Lockwood, Patricia (October 28, 2013). "What Is the Zoo for What". The New Yorker. 89 (34): 56–57.
The Ode on a Grecian Urn 2017 Lockwood, Patricia (September 1, 2017). "The Ode on a Grecian Urn". POETRY.
Government Spending 2013 Lockwood, Patricia (December 1, 2013). "Government Spending". POETRY.
Love Poem Like We Used to Write It 2011 Lockwood, Patricia (November 28, 2011). "Love Poem Like We Used to Write It". The New Yorker.
Rape Joke 2013 Lockwood, Patricia (July 25, 2013). "Rape Joke". The Awl.
How Do We Write Now 2018 Lockwood, Patricia (April 10, 2018). "How Do We Write Now". Tin House.
The Hypno-Domme Speaks, and Speaks and Speaks 2013 Lockwood, Patricia (December 1, 2013). "The Hypno-Domme Speaks, and Speaks and Speaks". POETRY.
Jewel Thief Movie 2017 Lockwood, Patricia (September 1, 2017). "Jewel Thief Movie". POETRY.
The Arch 2012 Lockwood, Patricia (April 1, 2012). "The Arch". POETRY.
The Pinch 2017 Lockwood, Patricia (March 16, 2017). "The Pinch". The Awl.


  1. Parker, James (May 2017). "Poet on the Edge". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  2. [GATTI, T. In the name of the father. New Statesman. 146, 5368, 16-17, May 26, 2017.] ISSN 1364-7431
  3. Laity, Paul (2017-04-27). "Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood review – a dazzling comic memoir". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  4. Kelly, Kevin (August 11, 2011). "Unusual path leads Father Lockwood to K.C." The Catholic Key. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  5. Jerkins, Morgan (May 1, 2017). "Patricia Lockwood: The Poet Laureate of Twitter". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  6. Garner, Dwight (2017-05-03). "Patricia Lockwood Is a Priest's Child (Really), but 'From the Devil'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  7. Gatti, Tom (May 26, 2017). "In the name of the father: Patricia Lockwood on sex, centaurs and Catholicism". New Statesman. 146 (5368). ISSN 1364-7431.
  8. Lichtenstein, Jesse (2014-05-28). "The Smutty-Metaphor Queen of Lawrence, Kansas". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  9. "Patricia Lockwood's Sext Poems Will Make You LOL". Huffington Post. 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  10. Notopoulos, Katie; Herrman, John (April 5, 2013). "Weird Twitter: The Oral History". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  11. Bump, Philip. "The Best Tweets of All Time, According to Us". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  12. Piepenbring, Dan (January 9, 2014). "At Last, We Answer Patricia Lockwood's Excellent Tweet". The Paris Review. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  13. Piepenbring, Dan (January 31, 2018). "Paris, Reviewed". The Paris Review. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  14. Robbins, Michael (December 16, 2012). "Poetry in neglect". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  15. Frere-Jones, Sasha (2012-12-20). "Best Books of 2012, P.S." The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  16. Brown, Austin (December 31, 2012). "Guest List: Best of 2012". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  17. Foundation, Poetry. "Let's Help Patricia Lockwood Get a Tramp Stamp, Shall We?". Harriet: The Blog. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  18. Lockwood, Patricia (2013-07-25). "Rape Joke". The Awl. Archived from the original on 2017-05-14. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  19. Groskop, Viv (2013-07-26). "Rape Joke: what is Patricia Lockwood's poem really saying?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  20. Foundation, Poetry. "Patricia Lockwood 'Rape Joke' Poem Is World-Famous". Harriet: The Blog. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  21. "Fiction Book Review: The Pushcart Prize XXXIX: Best of the Small Presses, 2015 Edition by Edited by Bill Henderson, with the Pushcart Prize editors. Pushcart, $19.95 trade paper (650p)". Publishers Weekly. ISBN 978-1-888889-73-4. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  22. Garner, Dwight (2014-05-28). "Patricia Lockwood's 'Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  23. Burt, Stephanie (2014-07-18). "Patricia Lockwood's 'Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  24. Constant, Paul (July 9, 2014). "The Most Modern Poet". The Stranger. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  25. The New York Times (2014-12-02). "100 Notable Books of 2014". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  26. Rooney, Kathleen (May 1, 2017). "Patricia Lockwood's memoir, 'Priestdaddy,' is smart, funny and irreverent". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  27. Garner, Dwight (3 May 2017). "Patricia Lockwood Is a Priest's Child (Really), but 'From the Devil'". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  28. Gajewski, Ryan. "Patricia Lockwood's Memoir 'Priestdaddy' Optioned by Imagine Television". The Wrap. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  29. "The 20 Best Books of 2017, According to Amazon's Editors". Bustle. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  30. "2018 THURBER PRIZE FOR AMERICAN HUMOR WINNER". Thurber House. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  31. "The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  32. "Lost in Trumplandia". The New Republic. Retrieved 2019-12-16.
  33. "Monsters, Monkies, and Maladies". The Paris Review. Retrieved 2019-12-16.
  34. "How Mary-Kay Wilmers Became Britain's Most Influential Editor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-12-16.
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