Peterson’s lyric poems explore interior and exterior landscapes, exposure, and shelter. “A poem is a place,” Peterson stated in an interview with the Harvard Gazette. “It does not describe a place.” In her artist’s statement, Peterson explains, “I like a poem that feels logical but is not—a poem in which thinking takes the shape of a hallucination. I like a poem in which all of my intelligence fails. I am forced to use other tools: desire, anger, recklessness. I pursue beauty and memory not to preserve them but to try, against odds, to preserve that perishable pursuit.”
Peterson has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Summer Literary Seminars and received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She has taught at Bennington College and Deep Springs College, where she was the Robert B. Aird Chair of Humanities. Peterson is on the English faculty at the University of California-Davis.