Menominee poet and activist Chrystos was born in San Francisco. In her work, she examines themes of feminism, social justice, and Native rights. In a 2010 interview for the Black Coffee Poet blog, Chrystos stated, “Since my 20’s, when I saw the need to address social justice issues in words, my work just ‘pops out.’ A newspaper story, an incident from my life, a book, a song, a garden snake, a sad face I see—I have no idea, actually, how these become poems. A line begins in my mind and won’t leave me alone. I’ve learned to sit and write it down and the rest just flows.” She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Not Vanishing (1988), Dream On (1991), and Fire Power (1995).
Chrystos’s work has been featured in the anthologies This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa) and Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology (1988, edited by Will Roscoe). With Tristan Taormino, she coedited the anthology Best Lesbian Erotica 1999 (1999).
Chrystos won the Audre Lorde International Poetry Competition and has received the Sappho Award of Distinction from the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Since 1980, she has lived on Bainbridge Island, Washington.