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Indiana Authors Awards Honoree

Debra Kang Dean

Debra Kang Dean

2020 Poetry Shortlist

Debra Kang Dean is the author of five collections of poetry, the most recent of which are Totem: America (Tiger Bark, 2018) and the prize-winning chapbook Fugitive Blues (Moon City Press, 2014). BOA Editions published her first two full-length collections of poetry: News of Home (1998), co-winner of the Sheila Margaret Motton Award, and Precipitates (2003), which was nominated for the William Carlos Williams Award. Back to Back (1997) won the Harperprints Poetry Chapbook Competition, judged by the late Ruth Stone, and in collaboration with Russ Kesler, she wrote Mourning’s Spell (FLP, 2013), a chapbook of renku that includes linocuts by Laurel Leonetti. 

Her poems have been featured on Poetry DailyVerse DailyThe Writer’s Almanac, and on the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day; and they have been anthologized in Best American PoetryNever BeforeAmerica! What’s My NameIntersecting Circles, and Unsettling America, among others. Her poems also appear in two new anthologies: The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison, 2020) and They Rise Like a Wave: Asian American Women Poets (Blue Oak, winter of 2020). Her essays are included in the expanded edition of The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World (Milkweed, 2011) and in Until Everything Is Continuous Again: American Poets on the Recent Work of W. S. Merwin (Wordfarm, 2012).  

For decades, whether practicing poetry or taiji, she has been captivated by the beauty of lines and form, and among her influences are her maternal grandmother’s patchwork quilts and Bashō’s haikai no renga. Born in Hawai‘i a few years before it became the 50th state, she is of Korean and Okinawan ancestry. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and is on the faculty of Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. 

See the entire poetry shortlist or learn more about the 2020 Awards.