Andrena Zawinski was born in Pittsburgh, PA and raised in the working-poor communities skirting Pittsburgh. She is a second-generation Eastern European daughter and granddaughter of steel mill workers and coal miners.
As a single parent, and after earning degrees in education and language communications from the University of Pittsburgh, she established a career in public education while spending every free moment developing herself as a poet.
Zawinski has a long history as a feminist and activist who has organized in the women against violence against women movement, as well as co-founding a feminist bookstore collective and managing a cultural feminist restaurant and bar showcase for women's talent. She has worked at everything from making fish lures to being a contract publicist.
Since she has made her home in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has co-organized a Poets for Peace reading series that featured prominent Bay Area poets and resulted in the chapbook, Against Certainty, from Chapiteau Press. She founded a Women's Poetry Salon--a social group that currently meets every six weeks for a potluck of food and poetry.
Her poetry has been described as "strongly imagistic and tightly rhythmical" (Len Roberts), her poems as those that "seethe with savvy and are packed with a bristling ironic intellegence" (Lynn Emanuel), and as a poet who "gets beneath the skin of wherever she's at, wherever she's been, whereever she might be going" (Jim Daniels).