Amy Clampitt was born in New Providence, Iowa on June 15, 1920. She graduated from Grinnell College and moved to New York City. To support herself, she worked as a secretary at the Oxford University Press, a reference librarian at the Audubon Society, and a freelance editor. Her first published poem appeared in The New Yorker in 1978. Her first volume of poetry, The Kingfisher, was published in 1983. Her other books include What the Light Was Like, Archaic Figure, Westward, A Silence Opens, and Her Collected Poems. A recipient of the Guggenheim fellowship in 1982, she was also granted the Fellowship Award of the Academy of American Poets in 1984 and the MacArthur Prize Fellow in 1992. She taught at the College of William and Mary, Smith College, and Amherst College She died of cancer on September 10, 1994.