Lee Ann Roripaugh
Lee Ann Roripaugh writes with imagination and candor, fearlessly engaging with a broad range of topics: Japanese internment, the Fukushima disaster, and the semiotics of language. Roripaugh’s latest collection of poems, tsunami vs. the fukushima 50 (Milkweed Editions, 2019) distills the grand scale of natural (and human-influenced) disasters through compassionate, complicated monologues and persona poems, capturing the anxieties of humans faced with the previously unthinkable. In the poem “mothra flies again,” a woman pregnant with twins wrestles with the unknown following the Fukushima disaster: “at night I lie awake and unpack / my worries like wooden kokeishi dolls, / nested one inside the other // what if? what if? what if?” Roripaugh has been awarded the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose as well as the South Dakota Arts Council Artist Fellowship Grant. Her poem "Utsuroi" was recently featured on recent U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's podcast, "The Slowdown." Roripaugh is currently the South Dakota Poet Laureate, and teaches literature and creative writing at the University of South Dakota.