I was born in East Chicago, Indiana, part of industrial Lake County, and grew up in nearby Highland. My poems “Babel,” “Polish Jokes,” “My Mother the Monopolist,” and “The Story of My Life, As Written by My Mother” offer insights into this multilingual, working-class milieu, where aunts danced the czardas, uncles worked in the mills, and my Polish grandfather and Slovak great-grandmother conversed in their respective tongues and understood each other just fine.

Having the chance to live and work in Warsaw, Poland during the mid-Eighties changed my life. It connected me to the beautiful, difficult language of my grandparents and allowed me to read Czesław Miłosz, Wisława Szymborska, Zbigniew Herbert, and Adam Zagajewski in the original. My own poems grew up in the shadow of theirs. Beyond the Velvet Curtain reimagines Richard Nixon and Nikita Krushchev and takes readers on an amusement park ride through contemporary history and art. Metropolis Burning presents images of Warsaw in its many guises: destroyed during the war, resurrected as a socialist utopia, then reinvented after 1989 as a garish, beloved postmodern phoenix.

My translations of contemporary Polish poetry have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Mid-American Review, Southern Review, and West Branch, and earned me a Fulbright Research Grant and Fellowship in Literary Translation from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2013, White Pine Press published my translation of Agnieszka Kuciak’s Distant Lands, a faux anthology of 21 invented poets, their poems and biographical notes. I’m currently editing and compiling an anthology of Polish women poets, Scattering the Dark, which will appear from White Pine in February 2016.

I served as Indiana’s Poet Laureate from 2012-2014, and I currently teach at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).