Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on December 17, 1945. She received her MA from the State University of San Francisco.
Muske-Dukes is the author of nine books of poetry, including Blue Rose (Penguin, 2018), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Sparrow (Random House, 2003), which was a National Book Award finalist; and Octave Above Thunder (Penguin Books, 1997). Her books of prose include two collections of essays and the novels Channeling Mark Twain (Random House, 2008); Life After Death: A Novel (Random House, 2001); Saving St. Germ (Viking Press, 1993); and Dear Digby (Viking Press, 1989). Her play, Married to the Icepick Killer: A Poet in Hollywood, was given staged readings in Manhattan and at Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York, where she was awarded the distinguished John Drew Fellowship & Residency.
Among Muske-Dukes’s awards are the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, an Ingram-Merrill grant, a Witter/Bynner Award from the Library of Congress, and several Pushcart Prizes.
A regular writer for the New York Times and the Huffington Post, Muske-Dukes was also the Los Angeles Times poetry columnist for several years, and has taught in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of Virginia. In 1972, she founded a prison writing program at the Women’s House of Detention on Riker’s Island that grew into Art Without Walls/Free Space. She is the founder and former director of the PhD program in creative writing and literature at the University of Southern California, where she has been a professor of English and creative writing for some years. She was appointed California state poet laureate in 2008, serving until 2011.
Muske-Dukes lives in Los Angeles.