Author of two books of original poetry, Walking Out the Dark (1984) and Thorns (1995). She was the first poet to have two poems published in the national American Life in Poetry weekly newspaper column, a series created by US poet laureate Ted Kooser. She wrote poetry until 1991, when she suffered a massive stroke.
Buettner earned a BA in education degree from Kearney State College in 1956 and taught high school English for several years. She lived in Kearney, Nebraska for over 40 years and in her later years she hosted monthly "Poetry with Shirley" gatherings, at which she read poems by herself and other Nebraska poets.