Born in Whittier, California in 1937, Diane Wakoski graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Her early work was influenced by poets such as Jerome Rothenberg, Robert Kelly, Clayton Eshleman, and others that were part of the deep image movement. Other poets she cites as influences include William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, and Charles Bukowski. Her later work was more personal and conversational in the Williams mode. She moved to East Lansing in 1976 where she was Poet in Residence at Michigan State University, as well as a distinguished university professor. Professor Wakoski retired in 2012. She is married to Robert Turney, a photographer specializing in the tintype pinhole photography process.
Wakoski has published more than forty collections of poetry. Her body of work includes four books that constitute her series, The Archaeology of Movies and Books, --Argonaut Rose, The Emerald City of Las Vegas, Jason the Sailor, and Medea the Sorceress. Several of her other collections include: Emerald Ice: Selected Poems 1962-1987, which won the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award; and The Collected Greed, Parts 1-13. In addition to her poetry, she has also published four books of essays: Toward a New Poetry, Variations on a Theme, Creating a Personal Mythology, and Form Is an Extension of Content.
She has received a Fulbright fellowship, a Michigan Arts Foundation award, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Michigan Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. In 2003, Wakoski received the 13th annual Michigan Author Award, which honors a Michigan writer for contributions to literature. This award is sponsored jointly by the Michigan Center for the Book and the Michigan Library Association.
In 2003, Wakoski received the 13th Annual Michigan Author Award which, sponsored jointly by the Michigan Center for the Book and the Michigan Library Association, honors a Michigan writer for their contributions to literature.