Chrystos describes herself as a Native American Lesbian poet and activist. Her writing is thoughtful and provocative, making no compromises. Her poems range from funny to loving to angry (often all at the same time).
Chrystos was born in San Francisco, CA, on November 7, 1946. She is of mixed blood ancestry, but identifies with her father, who was of Menominee ancestry. Her mother’s heritage was Lithuanian/Alsace Lorraine. Instead of growing up on the reservation, she was raised in the city around Black, Latin, Asian, and White people and identifies herself as an Urban Indian. Since 1980, she has been living on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Chrystos is a self-educated writer as well as an artist who designs the covers of her own books. Her work as a Native land and treaty rights activist has been widely recognized and the political aspect is an essential part of her writing - even though she refuses to be taken as a "voice" of Native women or as a "spiritual leader.” Her passionate verse explores the issues of colonialism, genocide, class and gender and how these affect women and Indian peoples, especially from a feminist perspective.
Her works have appeared in a number of anthologies, for example This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981) and Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology (1988). She is also the winner of the Audre Lorde International Poetry Competition in 1994 and of the Sappho Award of Distinction from the Astraea National Lesbian Action Foundation in 1995.
Books by Chrystos:
Vancouver : Press Gang Publishers, 1995.
Cleveland : Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1995.
In her I am
Vancouver : Press Gang Publishers, 1993.
Vancouver, B.C. : Press Gang Publishers, 1991.
Vancouver, B.C. : Press Gang Publishers, 1988.