LitHub looks into the abyss of the author bio through the lens of the pointy, sometimes acerbic, Jason Guriel. There should really be a hard cutoff of 50 words. But on the other hand, people worked for their accomplishments, so why shouldn’t they list them? I don’t know. When I ran NewPoetry.ca a few years ago, I said no to bios and pictures and other bumpf because I thought there should be a space for the poem to stand on its own, with simply the author’s name as context. I suppose there’s times for both the full bio and executive summary, and I would argue that an author’s website is probably the only place for the full one.
Author bios are seemingly minor texts. Afterthoughts. They point out a few publications, maybe an award or two. They might tell you where the author teaches (if she’s faculty somewhere) or in which periodicals she’s appeared (if she’s a journalist, say). They’ll often end by noting where the author lives, pinning her to the globe. On dust jackets and Twitter profiles, bios have a haiku’s worth of space in which to work. (On personal websites, they have more room to roam—or run amok.)
But these minor texts have major ambitions. They not only strive to say something meaningful about their subjects; they strive to become inseparable from their subjects.