Born Paulann Whitman in Portland in 1942, Paulann Petersen has lived her entire life in Oregon. Growing up in Southeast Portland, she attended Richmond Grade School and Franklin High School. Her father, Paul Whitman, was a sheet metal mechanic, and her mother, Grace Whitman, a registered nurse. After high school, Paulann attended Pomona College in Claremont, CA.
Paulann's family then moved to Klamath Falls, and she spent the next 31 years there as a housewife, a mother, and eventually a public high school teacher. Inspired by Klamath Fall's high plateau landscape, Paulann began writing poetry. Her first published poem appeared in the Sunday Oregonian in 1975.
In 1976, Paulann returned to school for her teaching degree. She taught English at Mazama High School for eight years, publishing a number of poems in literary journals. Paulann won a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and spent a year in Stanford studying with poets including Adrienne Rich and Grace Paley. In 1991 she moved back to Portland to teach at West Linn High School. Since 1993, Paulann has lived in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood. Her husband, Ken Pallack, is a retired legal aid lawyer and mediator. Paulann has two grown children, Edie Lungreen, who lives in San Francisco, and Chris Petersen, who lives with his family in Northeast Portland.
Paulann has given readings in hundreds of spots from Powell's in Portland to Omsania University in India, from Ross Ragland Theater in Klamath Falls to the Museum Hotel in Central Turkey, and in virtually every nook and cranny of Oregon. Her poetry is featured on Trimet public transportation as part of Poetry in Motion. She frequently teaches workshops for colleges, high schools, libraries and writers' organizations
For the last ten years, she's served on the board of Friends of William Stafford, organizing the annual birthday celebrations.
For more information about Paulann's publications and awards, visit her website at Paulann.net.