Kathleen Fraser was born on March 22, 1935 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She received her BA from Occidental College in Los Angeles, California in 1959, after which she moved to New York to work in an editorial position at Mademoiselle magazine. She later moved to San Francisco. In 1983, Fraser co-founded (HOW)ever, a feminist poetics journal focused on innovative writing that was published until 1992.
She authored more than fifteen books, including moveable TYYPE (Nightboat Books, 2011), Discrete Categories Forced into Coupling (Apogee Press, 2004), il cuore – the heart: Selected Poems, 1970-1995 (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 1997), When Time Folds Up (Chax Press, 1993), and Something (even human voices) in the foreground, a lake (Kelsey Street Press, 1984). Among her influences were Stanley Kunitiz and Kenneth Koch, with whom she studied while she lived in New York, and Charles Olson, George Oppen, Lorine Neidecker, and Barbara Guest.
About Fraser’s work, Patrick Pritchett wrote, “Kathleen Fraser's remarkable poetic career has encompassed the feminist concern with exclusion, marginality and the generation of ‘voice,’ as well as the poststructuralist intrigue surrounding the construction of the self through language. Throughout, she has revelled in the liberating play of words themselves. Fraser’s devotion to discovery, her willingness to risk, and her profoundly lyrical sense of the intimate place her not only among our most daring poetic innovators, but also mark her as one of the pre-eminent poets of the past thirty years."
Her honors include two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She taught at San Francisco State University from 1972 to 1992, where she was also the director of The Poetry Center and founded the American Poetry Archives, and also California College of the Arts. She lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and Rome, Italy. She died on February 5, 2019.