Born and raised in Chicago, Deborah Cummins earned her B.A. in English at Northern Illinois University and an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

She is the author of a personal essay collection, Here and Away: Discovering Home on an Island in Maine, and two collections of poetry, Counting the Waves and Beyond the Reach, as well as a poetry chapbook, From The Road It Looks Like Paradise. She has taught writing at the University of Chicago, Columbia College, the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University, and Chicago’s Newberry Library and Terra Museum of American Art. She has also been a visiting writer at Lyon College, University of Nebraska at Kearney, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Working with high school and elementary students, she has served as an Arts-in-Education Residency Artist for the Illinois Arts Council, a Writer-in-Residence at the Menil Art Collection and a writing instructor in various Chicago area public schools and with Writers in the Schools in Houston. For three years, she was the assistant director of the White River Writers’ Workshop at Lyon College in Arkansas and was a faculty member of the Down East Writers’ Conference in Deer Isle, Maine. Currently she curates poetry events for Opera House Arts in Stonington, Maine.

Her numerous awards include a James Michener Fellowship and several fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council. Most recently, she received the 2013 and 2012 Maine Literary Award for Short Works in Nonfiction and was a Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance 2013 Nonfiction Book Award Finalist. She has been the recipient of artist residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Ragdale Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her poems and essays have appeared in eight anthologies and more than sixty journals and magazines. Most recently, one of her essays was listed as Notable in 2013 Best American Essays.

Her poetry has also been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry syndicated newspaper column and on the Poetry Daily and Verse Daily web sites. She has given numerous public readings in a variety of venues, including book stores, libraries, conferences, festivals, galleries, and in lecture and reading series. She has also been interviewed on radio programs in Chicago, Kansas City and Portland, Maine.

Cummins served as Board Chair of the Poetry Foundation from 2001-2005 as the Foundation transitioned from a small 501C3 non-profit to an operating foundation following an historic bequest by the late Lily pharmaceutical heiress and philanthropist Ruth Lilly. She remained on the board until 2010. Currently, she is a board member of Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance

She and her husband reside in Portland and Deer Isle, ME.