Alison Hawthorne Deming was born and grew up in Connecticut, where she was steeped in both literary and naturalist traditions. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship to support the research and writing of her most recent nonfiction book, A Woven World: On Fashion, Fishermen, and the Sardine Dress, published by Counterpoint Press in 2021. Her most recent poetry books are Stairway to Heaven (Penguin 2016) and Death Valley: Painted Light, a collaboration with photographer Stephen Strom. The essay collection Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit was published by Milkweed Editions in 2014.
She is the author of Science and Other Poems (LSU Press, 1994), selected by Gerald Stern for the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets; The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence (LSU, 1997), Genius Loci (Penguin Poets, 2005), and Rope (Penguin Poets, 2009); and three additional nonfiction books, Temporary Homelands (Mercury House, 1994; Picador USA, 1996), The Edges of the Civilized World (Picador USA, 1998), finalist for the PEN Center West Award, and Writing the Sacred Into the Real (Milkweed, Credo Series). She edited Poetry of the American West: A Columbia Anthology (Columbia University Press, 1996) and co-edited with Lauret E. Savoy The Colors of Nature: Essays on Culture, Identity, and the Natural World (Milkweed, 2002; revised and expanded edition, 2011).
Deming’s work centers on the relationship between nature and culture, art and science. She received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Her work has been awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod, Pushcart Prize, Gertrude B. Claytor Award from the Poetry Society of America, Best Essay Gold Award from the GAMMA Southeastern Magazine Association, and Bayer Award in Science Writing from Creative Nonfiction for the essay “Poetry and Science: A View from the Divide.” She chaired the Pulitzer Prize Poetry Jury for 2018.
She has held residencies at Yaddo, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Mesa Refuge, Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, Vermont Studio Center, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, and the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon. She has taught at the Prague Summer Program, Kachemak Bay Writers Conference, Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center, University of Montana’s Environmental Writing Institute, and the Bread Loaf Environmental Writing Workshop, among many other venues.
Working with the Language of Conservation Project sponsored by Poets House in New York City, Deming curated the poetry installation at the Jacksonville (FL) Zoo and Gardens. She served as poet-in-residence for the Milwaukee Public Museum and Milwaukee Public Library in the Poets House “Field Work” project bringing together science and poetry. Her writing has been widely published and anthologized, including in The Norton Book of Nature Writing, and twice in Best American Science and Nature Writing. Former Director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center and former Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment and Social Justice, she is Regents Professor Emerita at the University of Arizona. She lives in Tucson, Arizona and Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Canada.