Born in Illinois in 1954, kari edwards was raised in Westfield, New York. After studying sculpture, edwards taught in the art department at Denver University in Denver, Colorado. In the 1990s, edwards enrolled in the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado and went on to receive an MA in psychology and an MFA in writing and poetics.
At Naropa, edwards met partner, Frances Blau. After graduating in 2000, edwards and Blau moved to San Fransisco, where edwards became active in the local poetry and transgender communities. edwards also launched a blog, Transdada, and remained committed to social justice and queer activism.
edwards's first book, post/(pink), was published in 2000 by Scarlet Press. edwards's subsequent books include obLiqUE paRt(itON): colLABorationS (xPress(ed), 2002), a diary of lies (Belladonna Books, 2002), a day in the life of p. (subpress collective, 2002), iduna (O Books, 2003), obedience (Factory School, 2005), and have been blue for charity (BlazeVox, 2006). Her last book, Bharat jiva, was released posthumously in 2009 from Belladonna Books.
edwards's work has been praised as "keen and observant" (Rodrigo Toscano) and "stunningly powerful" (Rachel Zolf). Friend and poet Rob Halpern noted that "kari made limitless demands on our responsibility to respond to all forms of injustice, from the violence against trans-folk, to the injustice of language itself…She continues to make us vigilantly aware that we are complicit in the violence of gender simply by thinking in English, just as we're complicit in a murderous imperialism by living in America. kari knew that we need to use language radically and innovatively in order to overcome that violence, hence her faithfulness to the likes of Gertrude Stein, as well as Dada."
edwards won the New Langton Arts Bay Area Award in literature in 2002, and Small Press Traffic's Book of the Year Award in 2004. edwards died of a pulmonary embolism on December 2, 2006, edwards's birthday, at the age of 54.