Carol Anne Muske’s roots are firmly planted in the Great Plains. Wyndmere, which forms the title of one collection of poetry, is found in North Dakota, where her grandfather was a wheat farmer. Although her mother won a scholarship for college, her family was too poor to send her. Instead, she married. While raising a family, she maintained a love for poetry, which she passed on to her daughter. Muske has written about her mother’s memorizing of poems and of her reciting them from time to time.
After earning her bachelor of arts degree from Creighton, in Nebraska, and her master of arts from San Francisco State University, Muske went to Europe, where she performed in a Paris production of Hair. When she returned to New York, she taught at Columbia University, exploring the sense of conflict and dislocation she felt as a writer and a woman. Riker’s Island Prison, where she taught, provided a physical symbol of enclosed places that are controlled by men. Earning a National Endowment for the Arts grant enabled her to establish a program, “Art Without Walls,” in the prison.
In 1981, Muske went to live in Italy on a Guggenheim Fellowship. She met actor David Dukes, whom she would marry in 1983, having divorced her first husband, Edward Healton. Under the name Carol Muske-Dukes, she began focusing on writing and publishing fiction. In 2000, her husband suddenly died after suffering a heart attack. She has a son and a daughter.
Muske has taught in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of California, Irvine, the University of Virginia, and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.