Leslie Scalapino (July 25, 1944 – May 28, 2010) was born in Santa Barbara, California and raised in Berkeley. She traveled throughout her youth and adulthood to Asia, Africa and Europe — including Tibet, Bhutan, Japan, India, Mongolia, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere — and her writing was intensely influenced by these experiences. She published her first book, O and Other Poems, in 1976. In 1986, she founded O Books, dedicated to publishing innovative works by young and emerging poets, as well as prominent and established writers. She also taught writing for nearly 25 years at various institutions, including Bard College (16 years in the MFA program), Mills College, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the California College of Arts in San Francisco. She lived with Tom White, her husband and friend of 35 years, in Oakland, CA until her death in 2010.
Scalapino is the author of thirty books of poetry, prose inter-genre-fiction, plays, and essays. In 2010, the year of her death, she published five books: The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom (The Post-Apollo Press); Flow-Winged Crocodile and A Pair / Actions Are Erased / Appear (Chax Press), two plays published in one volume; The Animal is in the World like Water in Water (Granary Books); a collaboration between Scalapino and artist Kiki Smith; and Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows (Starcherone Books), which is a pair, or preceding volume, to The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom. This same year, she also released a second edition of Crowd and not evening or light (O Books). Scalapino’s It’s go in horizontal/Selected Poems, 1974-2006 was published by University of California Press at Berkeley in 2008. Other books of Scalapino’s poetry include Day Ocean State of Stars’ Night (Green Integer), a collection of eight years of writing; Zither & Autobiography (Wesleyan University Press); The Tango (Granary Press), a collaboration with artist Marina Adams; Orchid Jetsam (Tuumba); Dahlia’s Iris—Secret Autobiography and Fiction (FC2 Publishers); a reprint of the prose work Defoe by Green Integer; and It’s go in/quiet illumined grass/land (The Post-Apollo Press). A revised and dynamically expanded version of her essay book How Phenomena Appear to Unfold (originally published by Potes & Poets in 1989) was published by Litmus Press in May 2011.