Dina Ben-Lev began writing poetry at the age of nine. "That was the year my father read poems aloud by Ogden Nash and Dylan Thomas. I would lie in bed and fall asleep to the rhythms and rhymes. I loved the sound of them," she says.
Raised in New York City, Ben-Lev admits to having been "a bit morose and lonely as a child" and says that her obsession with poetry was based on the premise that if she wrote better, she would live better. "When I wrote hundreds of poems as a kid, I was combating the disease I felt from city life-the muggings, the murders, the flashers, the sleazy name-callers."
As the poet matured, she became more interested in writing about her family. The adopted daughter of Jewish-Irish parents, Ben-Lev heard in her family stories about how oppressive the world can be, how dreams are squashed, how it is wiser to ask for less in life rather than more. "These tales had a political context. Writing about others' lives, acknowledging them and hopefully honoring them in my small way, made it possible for me to then go on and write about my own life."
Dina Ben-Lev is the author of two award-winning chpabooks, Sober on a Small Plane (1995) and Note for a Missing Friend (1991). Her poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines, and she is the recipient of two Academy of American Poets awards, the Elliston Poetry Prize, and a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has received degrees from Oberlin College, Syracuse University, the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati.