Peggy Shumaker was born in La Mesa, California, and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. She earned her BA in English and MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona. Shumaker was writer-in-residence for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, working with prison inmates, honors students, gang members, deaf adults, teen parents, little kids, library patrons, and elderly folks. She has given readings in art galleries, a governor’s mansion, a clearing in the woods, an abandoned bank, on reservations, in libraries, at a gold dredge, under the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon, on a riverboat, and at many bookstores, community centers, and universities.
Peggy Shumaker’s newest book of poems is Toucan Nest. Red Hen Press will release it in 2013. Red Hen Press also published Gnawed Bones, a meditation on mortality, and Blaze, a book of Shumaker’s poems and Kesler Woodward’s paintings. University of Nebraska Press brought out Just Breathe Normally in 2007, a book of brief lyric nonfiction. Her previous books include Underground Rivers (Red Hen Press 2002), Wings Moist from the Other World (University of Pittsburgh Press 1994),The Circle of Totems (University of Pittsburgh Press 1988), Braided River (Limner Press 1993), and Esperanza’s Hair (University of Alabama Press 1985). Her poems have been published in Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, and throughout the United States. Her nonfiction has appeared in Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction (Norton 2005), A Road of Her Own (Fulcrum 2002), Under Northern Lights (University of Washington Press, 2000), A Year in Place (University of Utah Press 2001), Prairie Schooner and Ascent.
Shumaker is founding editor of Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press, which publishes literature and fine art from Alaska. www.borealbooks.org.
Shumaker won a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and several awards for teaching. She served as poet-in-residence at the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University and as president of the Board of Directors of the Associated Writing Programs. Professor emerita from University of Alaska Fairbanks, Shumaker was chair of the English department and director of the MFA program in creative writing. She currently teaches in the Low-Residency Rainier Writing Workshop. Peggy Shumaker and her husband, Joe Usibelli, live in Fairbanks, Alaska, and travel widely.