Paisley Rekdal was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee, the hybrid photo-text memoir Intimate, and five books of poetry: A Crash of Rhinos; Six Girls Without Pants; The Invention of the Kaleidoscope; Animal Eye, a finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Prize and winner of the UNT Rilke Prize; and Imaginary Vessels, finalist for the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Prize and the Washington State Book Award. Her newest work of nonfiction is a book-length essay, The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam.
Her work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Residency, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes (2009, 2013), the AWP Creative Nonfiction Prize, and various state arts council awards. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New Republic, Tin House, the Best American Poetry series (2012, 2013, 2017 and 2018), and on National Public Radio, among others. She teaches at the University of Utah, where she is also the creator and editor of the community web project Mapping Salt Lake City. In May 2017, she was named Utah's Poet Laureate.