From the time poet Robin Chapman was eight she has written poetry, returning to it in 1980 in Wisconsin with the commitment to meet with her writing groups weekly, including in her poems topics of daily life, nature, child language, and science. Chapman is UW-Madison professor emerita of Communicative Disorders and a former principal investigator at the Waisman Center, where she studied language learning in individuals with Down syndrome, work for which she received the 2006 Career Research Scientist award from the Academy on Mental Retardation.
Her poems have appeared widely in journals and online, including The American Scholar, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, Hudson Review, OnEarth, Poetry, and Wilderness. Recipient of three grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board, including a 2007 Literary Arts Fellowship, she is author of five chapbooks and nine books of poetry, including The Only Everglades in the World; The Way In and Images of a Complex World: The Art and Poetry of Chaos (with UW physicist J. C. Sprott’s fractals and explanations), both winners of the Posner Poetry Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. The Dreamer Who Counted the Dead received a Wisconsin Library Association award for outstanding achievement in poetry and Abundance received the Cider Press Review Editors’ Book Award.
Her most recent books from Tebot Bach, the eelgrass meadow and One Hundred White Pelicans, just out, focus on the natural landscape and climate change. Dappled Things, her most recent chapbook portfolio, is a collaboration pairing 23 of her poems with Peter Miller’s photogravures of Asia. Her work received Appalachia’s 2010 Poetry Prize. She has co-edited two poetry anthologies, On Retirement: 75 Poems with the late Judith Strasser; and Love Over 60: An Anthology of Women’s Poems with Jeri McCormick. She teaches poetry workshops at The Clearing and Bjorklunden in Door County.