Citizen of the World, Poet, Writer of Other Things
Karen's life has been a series of firsts. In High School, she was one of the first women to play on a men's tennis team, a radical move which helped to establish Title IX. After college, she was one of a few women nationally to be writing about jazz and salsa in the major metropolitan market of New York City, publishing in Latin NY magazine and the Soho Weekly News. She then became one of America's first women recording engineers and record producers, earning two gold records. At age 30, she became a combat photojournalist, only one of five women in the world. During that time, in 1989 she was the first Western print journalist to go into the jungles of Myanmar and interview General Khun Sa, the King of the Opium Trade, a piece which ran in People magazine in June 1990.
After a series of injuries, later in life she designed educational video games, one which taught physics to kids and the other which was the first cognitive rehab game for patients with traumatic brain injury. She is now focusing on a literary career which will stand as her final legacy.
Most recently, Karen Petersen's poems, short stories, and flash have appeared in the Saranac Review and Peacock Journal in the USA, The Bosphorus Review in Istanbul, Idiom 23 in Australia and A New Ulster in Northern Ireland. In addition, new work has appeared in The Curlew, Lighten Up Online, and Snakeskin in the UK, Aurora: EKU, and Trickster in the USA. Her Haiku, Haibun, and Flash have appeared in "A Poet's Picnic," "Wilderness: Land Untrammeled," KYSO, and Mercurial Stories.
Her poems have been translated into Persian and Spanish and she has read at the KGB Bar in NYC, Teatro Paraguas, and the Yeats Festival in Santa Fe. She was responsible for "The Badlands are Everywhere" evening honoring Malpais Review and editor Gary Brower, at Teatro Paraguas in 2017, and for co-organizing and participating in the "All-Star Poetry Reading" at the Center for Progress and Justice in Santa Fe in 2018. In 2019 she was one of the judges and participants in the Santa Fe Telepoem Booth, a national poetry/art installation project. In 2020 she was asked to be one of the state judges in the National Poetry Out Loud competition created by the NEA and Poetry Foundation.
Karen Petersen's work has also appeared in various anthologies and literary magazines: Weaving the Terrain: 100 Word Southwestern Poems (Dos Gatos Press), Missing Persons (Beatlick Press), End of Summer poems (The Alexandria Quarterly Press), Di-verse-city: the Anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, The Ekphrastic Review, Manzano Mountain Review, Malpais Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, The Asses of Parnassus,The Five-Two: Poems on Crime, Antiphon (UK), Orbis (UK), and The Wild Word (Berlin).
As a foreign correspondent she had assignments for The New York Times, Newsweek, Harper's, The Nation, People, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Forward, German GEO, Wildlife Conservation, The Universal Press Syndicate, Hortus, The London Daily Telegraph, The Times of London, Rolling Stone, U.S. News & World Report, Travel & Leisure, Scholastic, Unicef, UNDP, USIA and the World Bank.
In addition to receiving a PEN American Writer's Grant, in 2019 Karen Petersen was the first person in the history of the Pushcart Prize to receive five nominations in all three categories of poetry, short story, and flash. She was also nominated that year by Amos Greig, the editor of the Northern Ireland publication A New Ulster, for the UK Forward Prize and the Saboteur Prize.
In public High School, Karen Petersen was a member of the National Honor Society, the Features Editor of the school newspaper, a Mathlete, and a Regents scholar. She worked her way through college and holds a B.A. from Vassar College, where she majored in Philosophy and Classics and was awarded the James Ryland and Georgia A. Kendrick Fellowship for graduate study. Her M.S. is in Environmental Policy from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Karen has a Media Collection of 800 domestic and international films, 3,000 records, and numerous video games. She collects African and Oceanic tribal art, Chinese snuff bottles, and is also a gardener and plant explorer who gathered seeds in Africa for the NYBG. Her African Photography is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum.
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