MARCH 20, 2010


Born on October 21, 1947 in Albany, Texas, she described herself as having Choctaw-Chicasaw, Southern Cheyenne and Comanche heritage, along with black, Japanese and Irish roots.  After finishing high school in Tucson, Arizona, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Oriental studies, focusing on Japanese, from the University of Arizona (1969) and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine (1971).  Around this time, she learned of her birth-father’s Japanese heritage and changed her middle name to “Ai,” which in Japanese, means “love.”  Her 1st collection of poems, “Cruelty,” was published in 1973.  She received a National Book Award in 1999 for “Vice: New and Selected Poems.”  Her other books include “Sin” (1986), “Fate” (1991), “Greed” (1993), “Dread” (2003), and “No Surrender,” published post-humously (2010).   Her work, though not autobiographical, often concerned disenfranchised people.  She died from pneumonia in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Source:  Margalit Fox, "Ai, an Unflinching Poetic Channel of Hard Lives, Dies at 62," The New York Times, 3/27/2010.  Retrieved 1/16/2020,
Photo:  Unknown, 2010.  Free for use under all conditions pursuant to Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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