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Kirsten (Paurus) Dierking was born in Minneapolis in 1962.  Her parents are Floyd and Nancy Paurus, and she has one sister, Robin Paurus.   Kirsten lived in Coon Rapids, Minnesota and attended Adams Elementary School before moving with her family to Mississauga, Ontario, Canada in the early 70’s.  She attended Lorne Park Public School, Tecumseh Public School, and Lorne Park Secondary School.  In Canada she was involved in horse-back riding, volleyball, and track and field.  She also wrote her first poems, including a rhyming birthday poem each year for her friend Barb Turner Berendson.    

In 1978, Kirsten moved with her family to Minnetonka, Minnesota, where she attended Lindbergh High School (now Hopkins High School), and then in 1979 to Boulder, Colorado, where she attended Niwot High School, graduating as a Merit Scholarship Finalist in 1980.  Kirsten remained in Boulder to attend the University of Colorado, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in both History and International Relations in 1985.  While working at Neodata in 1986, Kirsten met her husband, Patrick Dierking. Eventually, Kirsten and Patrick moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, and were married there in 1988.    

In Minnesota, Kirsten worked for Century 21 Real Estate before deciding to pursue a career in poetry.  In 1992 she enrolled in Hamline University’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, focusing her degree on creative writing.  At Hamline, Kirsten met mentors Deborah Keenan, Roseann Lloyd, Patricia Weaver Francisco, and Mary Rockcastle, and in her first class met dear friends and fellow writers Dianne Gray (Minnesota Book Award winner) and Kay Korsgaard.   She earned her master’s degree from Hamline in 1994, receiving the award for outstanding creative thesis.  While Kirsten worked at her writing during the 90’s, she was happily employed in the University of St. Thomas Library, and the Hamline University Law Library.   

In 2001, One Red Eye, Kirsten’s first book of poetry was published by Holy Cow! Press.  The Denver Rocky Mountain News called the book “unforgettable” and said “everybody should read this book – Grade A”.  Kirsten received grants for poetry from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Loft Literary Center, and the SASE/Jerome Foundation.  In part, the grants helped her prepare and promote her second book of poetry, Northern Oracle, published by Spout Press in 2007.  From 2008-2009, she served as the writer-in-residence at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.  In 2010, Kirsten received a $25,000 McKnight Fellowship for poetry, and with support from this fellowship she completed her third book, Tether, released by Spout Press in June of 2013.  Eight of Kirsten's poems have been presented by Garrison Keillor on the radio show A Writer's Almanac, and her poem "Wilderness" made the top ten list of the most downloaded poems from the show in 2014.  In January 2015, Kirsten appeared as a guest on A Prairie Home  Companion

Kirsten currently teaches humanities courses at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.   In 2008, she was a finalist for the student nominated "Golden Chalk" Award, and in 2009 she received the Building Bridges Award in Education from the Islamic Resource Group of Minnesota.  In 2010, Kirsten received the National Education Association's Excellence in the Academy Award in the Art of Teaching.  In 2013  and 2014 she was a nominee for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees Award for Teaching Excellence.  She is currently serving a three year term as one of the editorial panelists for the NEA journal of higher education, Thought & Action.

In addition to writing poems and teaching, Kirsten is involved in masters age group track and field, and participates (slowly) in 5K races.  She also enjoys kayaking, visiting Lake Superior as often as possible, St. Paul Saints baseball, and her three Humane Society, very mixed-breed dogs.


Awards and Other Publications Listed Below:



            -Top Ten List: "Wilderness" was the 5th most downloaded poem from the Writer's Almanac radio show in 2014

                       - 2013 Finalist, Bard of the Mississippi Competition

                         - 2013 and 2014 MN State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees Award for Teaching Excellence Nominee

                        - 2010 McKnight Fellowship in Poetry 

             - 2010 recipient of the National Education Association Excellence in the Academy Art of Teaching Award

                         - Building Bridges Award in Education, 2009, presented by the Islamic Resource Group, Minneapolis, MN

                         - What Light (MNartists.org) poetry competition winner, 2009

                         - Writer-in-Residence, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, 2008-2009

                         - Midwest Writing Center Poetry competition, 2nd place, 2009

                          - Finalist, student nominated teacher of the year "Golden Chalk" Award, 2008

                          - SASE/Jerome Grant recipient, poetry, 2007

                          - Inclusion in 150 Lives That Make a Difference, Hamline University book profiling “extraordinary individuals who have been part of Hamline’s 150 year history”.

                         - Loft Literary Center Career Initiative Grant recipient, poetry 2003

                         - Pushcart Prize nominee, 2003, 2007

                                                            - League of Minnesota Poets competition, 2nd place, 2003

                          - Minnesota State Arts Board Poetry Fellowship recipient, 2002

                                                            - First Place, St. Paul Capital City "Writers on Time" poetry contest, 2000

                          - Graduate Liberal Studies Alumnus of the Year, Hamline University,1998

                          - Creative Synthesis of the Year, Hamline University 1994



                                               Tether, Spout Press, Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN 2013, poetry book

                                               Northern Oracle, Spout Press, Minneapolis, MN, 2007, poetry book     

                                               One Red Eye, Holy Cow! Press, Duluth, MN, April, 2001, poetry book

Academic Essays

                                                -"Survivors on Campus:  A Dialogue About Sexual Assault, by Kirsten Dierking and Laura Gray-Rosendale,

                                                Thought & Action, The NEA Higher Education Journal (Fall 2014)

 “From Whitehall Palace to Burger King: Teaching the Humanities”    

Thought and Action, The NEA Higher Education Journal (Fall 2010)  

Multi-Media and Anthologies

-Swallow Dance (Dierking,15 pgs.), Silver Birch Press, Los Angeles, 2014 

-Garrison Keillor's Good Poems, American Places, April 2011

                                                  -Writer’s Almanac, eight poems featured on Garrison Keillor’s National Public Radio program, 2007 - 2014

                                                -Contexture:  a collaborative exhibit of poetry and contemporary fiber art                       
                                                             by Kirsten Dierking and artist Kimber Olsen, September 2010, art gallery  of Unity Unitarian Church, St. Paul, MN, and Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts,  September 4 - October 3, 2009

                                                    -Finnish-North American Literature in English, (Dierking, sixteen poems) Mellen  Press, Lewiston, NY 2009

                                                    - To Sing Along the Way:  Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-territorial Days to the Present, New Rivers Press, 2007, Bemidji MN

                                                    -The Wind Blows, The Ice Breaks: Poems of Loss and Renewal by Minnesota Poets, Nodin Press, Minneapolis MN, 2010

  -What Light, Poetry Competition Anthology, mnartists.org, forthcoming, 2010

                                                     -In a Fine Frenzy:  Poets Respond to Shakespeare, 2005, University of Iowa Press,

                                                -Sauna - Anthology, 2002, OTSA Press, Minnetonka MN

                                                -Red, White and a Paler Shade of Blue, Poems on the Finnish-American Experience, anthology, 1996, Tamarack Publishing, Rhinelander WI

Sample Poetry Publications in Journals                                 

                                                 -Poetry East, v. 52, 2004, v.58 & 59 2007, v. 70, 2011, Chicago IL

   -The Comstock Review, Syracuse, NY, Fall 2002, 2012

   -The Emprise Review, including five poems and an interview in Volume 17  (11/2010):    

                                               -Great River Review, #34, 2001, #43, Fall/Winter 2005, Red Wing MN 

     -Green Blade, Rural America Writers’ Center, 2009, 2010

                                               -The Fargo Art Forum, v.5 #3, Summer 1997, Fargo ND

                                                -Mankato Poetry Review, May 1996, Mankato MN

                                               -Minnesota Poetry Calendar, Black Hat Press, Goodhue MN, 1997-2000
Off Channel,
Midwest Writing Center, 2009

                                                -University of St. Thomas Magazine
, Fall 1998, St. Paul MN

  -The White Pelican Review, v. 5 #1 Spring 2004, Lakeland FL

  -Water-Stone Review, v.1 1998, v. 5 2002, v.7, 2004, v. 9, 2006, St. Paul

  -Xanadu, #18/19, 1997, Long Island Poetry Collective, Huntington NY