lives in the Low Country of South
Carolina, a landscape wholly unlike the
hills of Missouri where she came of age and spent most of her work life as a free-lance stenotype reporter, a job she does not regret leaving.  Among her southern neighbors are a plethora of snakes, water fowl, alligators, and an occasional panther.

She has one child, a daughter with multiple advanced degrees; one granddaughter, a preteen with an acute case of creativity who dislikes math as much as her grandma; and a second husband, a retired FBI agent who studies the market, plays bridge, and otherwise indulges her need for solitude.  The couple are especially fond of ballroom dancing but have been known to veer into the Carolina shag from time to time.

Paraphrasing poet Philip Larkin, Stiffler tells herself, and others, it is not necessary to be an Olympic writer to qualify for the game, but she is unsure if that line is an excuse for a less-than-stellar performance or encouragement to keep on writing poetry.

Olivia has recently taken up classical-style guitar, thus probing the depths of humility, a state well known to poets.

Her first book of poetry, Otherwise, we are safe, was published by Dos Madres Press in 2013 and was selected by Writer's Almanac for its Best of 2014 list.




Olivia Stiffler "drinks from the deep well of memory" in this astonishing collection, remembering childhood joys and griefs, old wounds, still-painful slights, and the heartbreak of lost love.  I have never read poetry so utterly accessible, yet still so rich with unforgettable images and profound truths.  Hiding in Plain Sight says it all.                   

Cassandra King

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In her exquisitely accomplished second collection, Hiding in Plain Sight, Olivia Stiffler writes a poetry that honors, again and again, the emotional depths and complexities of our lives.  And she does so in a voice full of the subtle music of her own Midwestern vernacular.  With Hiding in Plain Sight Stiffler has written a collection for those who long for a poetry of lyricism and intelligence, gorgeous and important work that wakes and nourishes the soul.     


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. . . some of the best damned work anywhere.

Robert Murphy



otherwise cover.jpg

How did she know?  I could not respond the first time I read it . . . right to the heart.


In OTHERWISE, her stunning first book, Olivia Stiffler makes poetry of life in all its many difficulties and joys.  Like Orpheus she turns her gaze to the past and returns to the world singing.  OTHERWISE is full of heart-rending elegy and arresting lament that lead to the creation of poetry both life affirming and resurrective.  That poetry can change us fundamentally is the acid test of any poet worth the name, and in OTHERWISE Stiffler shows us in poem after poem how worthy she is of the name she has earned:  Olivia Stiffler, poet.


These poems chronicle a woman's life from childhood forward with honesty and precision.  They draw in the reader with poignant images, as when she speaks of her mother's dying, "She is an untied balloon lifting out of reach," or her own aging, "Some days I can barely walk the distance/between my memories and my dreams/even in these sensible shoes."  In sharing her experiences so eloquently, Stiffler helps us all relate to our journeys."