Kathryn Stripling Byer grew up in southwest Georgia and graduated from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. She received an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied with Allen Tate, Fred Chappell, and Robert Watson.
Her books of poetry include Catching Light (Louisiana State University Press, 2002); Black Shawl (1998); Wildwood Flower (1992), which was the 1992 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest (1986), which was published in the Associated Writing Programs award series.
Byer's poems have appeared in Arts Journal, Carolina Quarterly, Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Iowa Review, Nimrod, Poetry, and Southern Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her essays have appeared in Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers (edited by Joyce Dyer; University Press of Kentucky, 1998), Dream Garden: The Poetic Vision of Fred Chappell (edited by Patrick Bizzaro; Louisiana State University Press, 1997), The Boston Globe, and Shenandoah.
She received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. She was poet-in-residence at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. She died June 5, 2017.