Poet, essayist, novelist, and playwright, Tess Gallagher was born on July 21, 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington. She received a BA and MA from the University of Washington, where she studied creative writing with Theodore Roethke, and a MFA from the University of Iowa.
Her first collection of poems, Instructions to the Double, won the 1976 Elliston Book Award for "best book of poetry published by a small press". In 1984, she published the collection Willingly, which consists of poems written to and about her third husband, author Raymond Carver, who died in 1988. Other collections include Dear Ghosts (Graywolf Press, 2006); My Black Horse: New and Selected Poems (1995); Owl-Spirit Dwelling (1994) and Moon Crossing Bridge (1992).
About Gallagher's work, the poet Hayden Carruth wrote, "Gallagher's poems, beyond their delicacy of language, have a delicacy of perception, and the capacity to see oneself objectively as another person doing the things one really does, with clear affection and natural concern."
Her honors include a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, two National Endowment of the Arts Awards, and the Maxine Cushing Gray Foundation Award.
She has taught at St. Lawrence University, Kirkland College, the University of Montana in Missoula, the University of Arizona in Tucson, Syracuse University, and Willamette University, Bucknell University, and Whitman College.