Lee Ann Roripaugh
A Wyoming native and second-generation Japanese American, Roripaugh studied music, earning a BM in piano performance and an MM in music history before earning an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the author of Beyond Heart Mountain (1999), which was selected by Ishmael Reed for the National Poetry Series; Year of the Snake (2004); On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year (2009); and Dandarians (Milkweed, 2014). In 2015 she was appointed poet laureate of South Dakota.
In Beyond Heart Mountain, Roripaugh drew on her heritage and life in the American West to create a series of portraits in the voices of Japanese American internees at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. In Year of the Snake she explores issues of mixed-race identity, myths, Japanese fairy tales, and metaphors of transformation. Poems in On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year delve into the lives of contemporary women, with a nod to Lady Murasaki; poet Maura Stanton identified “desire, along with its many disguises and tricks” as a theme of the collection.
Roripaugh’s awards include a Bush Artist Foundation Individual Fellowship and the 1995 Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize.