Joan Retallack received her B.A. from the University of Illinois, Urbana and her M.A. from Georgetown University. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, winning many awards including the Columbia Book Award, a Lannan Foundation Poetry Award (1998—99), the America Award in Belles-Lettres, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.
Retallack is the author of many critical studies, including The Poethical Wager (2003), and a study of Gertrude Stein (2008). She is the Director of the Language and Thinking Program at Bard College (2000— ) where she has been the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Humanities.
As of late 2009, Retallack is working on two projects: "The Reinvention of Truth" and "The Bosch Notebooks".