Brenda Hillman was born in Arizona, attended Pomona College and received her MFA at the University of Iowa.
She is the author of Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (2013), which received the International Griffin Poetry Prize, the Northern California Book Award for Poetry and the California Book Award Gold Medal in Poetry; Practical Water (2009), winner of the LA Times Book Award for Poetry; Pieces of Air in the Epic (2005); Cascadia (2001); Loose Sugar (1997), a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle; and Bright Existence (1993), a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Hillman co-edited The Grand Permisson: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood (2003) and edited a collection Emily Dickinson poems (1995). She co-translated Poems from Above the Hill: Selected Poems of Ashur Etwebi (2011) and Jeongrye Choi’s Instances (2011).
She received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Society of America and the Academy of American Poets. Her awards include the William Carlos Williams Prize for poetry and a Pushcart Prize. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2016.
Hillman has taught at the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference and UC Berkeley. She currently teaches at St. Mary’s College and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, the poet Robert Hass.