Penelope Austin was born in Michigan in 1951. She attended the University of Michigan, the University of Missouri, the University of Utah, and St. Hilda's College of Oxford University. Her first book, Waiting for a Hero, won the Devins Award for Poetry in 1988, and was published that year by the University of Missouri Press. Her poem "Eternal Love" was featured as a Poetry in Motion poem on public transportation in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Her poems appeared in The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, and the book Poets Against the War. After living with breast cancer for almost 20 years, she died at her home in 2003.