Poet and linguistic anthropologist Karenne Wood grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. She earned an MFA at George Mason University and a PhD in anthropology at the University of Virginia, where she was a Ford Fellow. In her poems, she often explores themes of identity, cultural practice, and language within portraits of historical and contemporary Virginia Indians.
Wood is the author of the poetry collection Markings on Earth (2001), which won a Diane Decorah Award for Poetry from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, and Weaving the Boundary (2016). Her work has been included in the anthologies Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers in Community (2002) and The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing After Removal (2010).
A reviewer for Publishers Weekly observed of the poems in Markings on Earth: “As reverential of their natural surroundings as they are unimpressed by the white world’s fumbling efforts at sensitivity, Wood’ s sharp-eyed witnesses are sometimes quick-tongued, sometimes sylvan-touched. … Whether recounting trauma, communal or private rituals or Monacan Indian history, Wood’ s voice is deliberate, certain of itself and resoundingly clear.”
An enrolled member of the Monacan Indian Nation, Wood serves on the Monacan Tribal Council and directs the Virginia Indian Programs at the Virginia Center for the Humanities. She has served as the repatriation director for the Association on American Indian Affairs and as a researcher for the National Museum of the American Indian. Wood curated Beyond Jamestown: Virginia Indians Past and Present, exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. She has served as chair of the Virginia Council on Indians and as a member of the National Congress of American Indians’ Repatriation Commission. In 2015 she was named one of Virginia’s Women in History.
Wood lives in Arlington, Virginia.