Myra Shapiro was born in Bronx, New York, the daughter of Ida Leader Stein and David Stein, a businessman who moved the family to northwestern Georgia when she was nine years old.
She graduated from the Ward-Belmont School, a boarding school for girls in Nashville, in 1949. Shapiro briefly attended college before marrying her "college sweetheart," Harold M. Shapiro, in 1953. Together they raised their family of two daughters in Chattanooga where Myra Shapiro returned to college in the early 1960s, receiving her BA in 1968 from the University of Chattanooga. She credits her reading of Betty Friedan's now-classic, The Feminine Mystique (1963), with inspiring her to seek a life beyond marriage and motherhood.
After working for several years as an English teacher and a librarian in Chattanooga (and completing a Master's in English at the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College, in 1973), Shapiro began writing in earnest in 1981. That year, with her youngest daughter off to college, Myra Shapiro sublet for a few months the first of several apartments in New York City so as to focus on her writing and attend poetry workshops with many of the renowned poets of the time. She earned her MFA in Writing at Vermont College in 1993.
Myra Shapiro's first collection of poetry, I'll See You Thursday, was published in 1996 (Blue Sofa Press), edited by Robert Bly. Her second book of poems, 12 Floors Above the Earth was published in 2012 (Antrim House Books). Her memoir, Four Sublets: Becoming a Poet in New York was published in 2007 (Chicory Blue Press). She has received numerous awards for her writing, including the Dylan Thomas Poetry Award from The New School (1981) and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest, Honorable Mention (2014). In 2005 she was named a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Robert H. Winner Award. Shapiro has read at the Library of Congress and was twice a McDowell Colony Fellow.
Shapiro serves on the Board of Directors of Poets House and teaches poetry workshops for the International Women's Writing Guild.