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 was born in Columbus, Ohio to a German American mother and Filipino immigrant father. I grew up in Lakeland, Florida, the third eldest in a family of twelve children. I am working on a memoir about growing up with and getting separated from my many siblings at an early age. It is also about (untaught) history and generational trauma; and my father’s tragic secrecy.

I studied English Lit at Florida State University and the University of California, Irvine. I earned an MLS from Indiana University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware.

During my twenties I lived in Morocco and Portugal and taught at The American School of Tangier and the American Language Institute in Lisbon. My daughters, Savannah and Bahiya, were born in Tangier and Lisbon. When they were four and one year old, we returned to the United States. My sons Adrian and Julian were born in Kentucky and Delaware.

I’ve taught literature and college composition, worked as an elementary school and high school librarian, and a teacher trainer in the public schools. In 2008, I earned a doctorate in Education and wrote a study on how high school students are taught to write. I used myths about Internet plagiarism as a lens, and presented the findings at ISTE‘s annual conference.

From 2008 to 2015, I served as Delaware’s poet laureate. As an advocate for arts-in-education, I visited classrooms, libraries and community centers across the state, and coordinated readings and conferences. The Delaware Writers Retreat, begun by Fleda Brown in 2002, was also a favorite project, bringing Delaware writers together who in turn volunteer hundreds of hours to community writing projects, groups and schools. 

JoAnn Balingit receiving award for service as Poet Laureate of Delaware

JoAnn Balingit and Governor Jack Markell, December 1, 2015

I work with the Delaware Division of the Arts as state coordinator of Poetry Out Loud , a national poetry recitation contest, and teach “Introduction to Poetry Writing” at the University of Delaware (Fall 2018 semester).

Other hats: assistant editor for YesYes Books, an independent publisher of the best new poetry; mentor at my local middle school; board member-at-large for the Delaware Literary Connection.

Words for House Story (WordTech Editions 2013) was a “Best Books” pick at Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

I have two chapbooks: Your Heart and How It Works (2009), winner of the 2010 Global Filipino Literary Award; and Forage, (2011), winner of the Whitebird Chapbook Prize. I have contributed poems to The Rumpus,  DIAGRAM, Kweli JournalRHINOSmartish Pace, Salt Hill, Vallum, Verse Daily and elsewhere. My work appears in collections 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.

In an interview at Connotation Press I talk about inspiration for my work. My local woods and watershed inspired “Brandywine Creek Preambles” for the Academy of American Poets project Imagine Our Parks with Poems

Recent honors include a 2017 VONA Residency in Prose, a 2016 Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a 2014 Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Foundation Fellowship in fiction and the 2015 Westmoreland Poetry Award. “Limón Homage” was a finalist for RHINO POETRY‘s 2016 Founder’s Prize. My poems “Your Heart and How it Works” and “The Great Tree” were nominated for the Pushcart Prize by the editors of DIAGRAM and Wings Press.

small but fun

small but fun