Claudia Emerson was born in Chatham, Virginia, in 1957. She earned her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Virginia in 1979, and her M.F.A. in poetry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1991. She is currently associate professor of English at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She has also taught at Washington and Lee University, Danville Community College, and Randolph-Macon Woman's College.
She is the author of three collections of poetry: Late Wife; Pharoah, Pharoah; and Pinion, An Elegy. Her verse has also appeared in numerous literary journals and publications, including Shenandoah, Poetry, Blackbird, Southern Review, Five Points, Visions International, Ploughshares, Chattahoochee Review, and Crazyhorse, among others.
In 1991, Emerson won the Associated Writing Program's Intro Award as well as the Academy of American Poets Prize. She has been awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, as well as the Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry twice, in 1995 and 2002. In 2003, she won the Mary Washington College Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Award.