Extended Bio

Like those fishermen down there casting flies that tap the sun-glassed water. / Their lines float out flimsy as spider silk, they sail, what a wayward way back.

Comfort, Cape Henlopen


I am a poet, essayist, teacher, editor and arts-in-education advocate. My full-length collection of poems, Words for House Story (WordTech 2013) was a 2015 Best Book at Beltway Poetry. My two chapbooks are Your Heart and How It Works (2009), winner of the 2010 Global Filipino Literary Award, and Forage, (2011), winner of the Whitebird Chapbook Prize.

My work appears in The Rumpus, DIAGRAM, Kweli JournalRHINOSmartish Pace, Salt Hill, Verse Daily. Also in anthologies such as Best New PoetsThe Crafty Poet,  More Challenges for the Delusional, and Book of Curses, a hybrid work from Asian American Literary Review–magic spells to call out Empire in the era of 45.

Poems and prose most recently appear in McSweeney’s, Vallum Magazine poem of the week, and Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience.

I’m fortunate to have found writing communities through residencies at Hedgebrook and VONA/Voices of Our Nations.  Fellowships such as Virginia Center for the Creative Arts as a three-time Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow, the 2014 Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Foundation Fellowship and the inaugural Kundiman Creative Nonfiction Intensive have offered me invaluable support on my writing journey.

In an interview at Connotation Press I talk about how my woods and watershed inspire me. I wrote “Brandywine Creek Preambles” for the Academy of American Poets 2016 project Imagine Our Parks with Poems

Other honors include the 2015 Westmoreland Poetry Award, and having “Limón Homage” chosen as a finalist for RHINO Poetry’s Founder’s Prize. Editors at DIAGRAM and Wings Press nominated my poems for The Pushcart Prize.

As a member of the multi-generational writing collective, The Decades, I support, celebrate and am inspired by fellow women writers of color.


I studied English at Florida State University and the University of California, Irvine, where I earned an MA in English literature.  I hold a Masters in Library and Information Science from Indiana University, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware.

I worked as a school librarian and a teacher trainer in the public schools for twelve years. My doctoral research is a study of how high schools students learn to write essays and do research. The study begins with myths about Internet plagiarism as a lens to explore how teachers design writing assignments and teach writing. ISTE‘s 2008 annual conference invited me to present my findings.

Poet laureate

JoAnn Balingit receiving award for service as Poet Laureate of Delaware

JoAnn Balingit and Governor Markell, December 1, 2015

From 2008 to 2015, I served as Delaware’s poet laureate. I gave readings and taught classes across the state, coordinated readings and writing conferences, and created opportunities for the state’s writers to gather and be recognized. In schools I campaigned for Poets-in-the-Schools programming, and taught poetry workshops to teachers. During my tenure as Delaware’s poet laureate I led poetry workshops for the Delaware Writers Retreat, K12 students, community organizations, museums and libraries. The local News Journal invited me to contribute columns on poetry.

For Delaware middle and high school students, I relaunched in 2011 and co-directed until 2017 the Delaware Writing Region of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. From 2010 to 2020, I  coordinated Delaware’s Poetry Out Loud contest, connecting with teachers across the state and coaching students as they learned to recite poems.


During my twenties I lived in Tangier, Morocco where I taught English at The American School of Tangier, and in Lisbon, Portugal where I taught English for the American Language Institute in the small museum town of Évora and in Lisbon. As a young mother in Owensboro, Kentucky, I taught literature and composition at Owensboro Community College. After moving to Delaware, I worked in public schools in New Castle County, Delaware and Chester County, Pennsylvania as a librarian, teacher and teacher trainer in technology.

I have experienced the public school system as a student, parent and teacher. Moreover, for four years I home schooled my youngest child and also as a parent experienced the world of a small alternative boarding school he attended. To support #DefundThePolice means, among other beliefs, to support re-designing and recreating public schools. No child should be made to suffer, for example, 21 days of suspension in one year. No child should be handcuffed and suffer indignities at school.

At the University of Delaware, I have taught Composition, Business Writing, and most recently, Poetry Writing. 

From 2013 to 2019, I served as assistant editor for YesYes Books, an independent publisher of poetry.

I teach creative writing classes for community arts and writing organizations.


Balingit reunion in 2018

Me and my siblings in 2018

I was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Lakeland, Florida, where my Filipino father and German American mother settled our family of ten at the time, after moving us nine times in nine years.

My memoir-in-progress is about surviving violence and the dissolution of my family, including the loss of both parents at a young age. It is also about the tenacity of sibling love and how family bonds heal us. This work is my awakening to my parents’ secrets, intergenerational trauma, my fraught multiracial identity, hidden families, and what it means to be a second-generation Filipina-American.

My daughters Savannah and Bahiya were born while I lived in Tangier, Morocco and São João do Estoril, Portugal. Sons Adrian and Julian were born while I was a teacher in Kentucky and Wilmington, Delaware.

I love road trips, hiking, gardening native plants, surfing, drunken noodles, the smell of libraries. Since this pandemic crisis began, I’ve really missed hanging out with family–siblings and nieces and nephews, and especially my kids and step-kids, my granddaughter Rei, and great-granddaughter Anaïs. For the past thirty years I have lived in the woods of northwest Delaware on Leni Lenape land, in the corner of our state called The Wedge.


small but fun

small but fun