In public High School, Karen Petersen was a member of the National Honor Society, the Features Editor of the school newspaper, a Mathlete, and a Regents scholar. She worked her way through college and holds a B.A. from Vassar College, where she majored in Philosophy and Classics and was awarded the James Ryland and Georgia A. Kendrick Fellowship for graduate study. Her M.S. is from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Karen's life has been a series of firsts. In High School, she was one of the first women to play on a men's tennis team, a radical move which helped to establish Title IX. After college, she was one of a few women nationally to be writing about music in the major metropolitan market of New York City, publishing in Latin NY magazine and the Soho Weekly News. She then became one of America's first women recording engineers and record producers, earning a gold record. At age 30, she became a combat photojournalist, only one of 5 women in the world. During that time, in 1989 she was the first Western print journalist to go into the jungles of Myanmar and interview General Khun Sa, the King of the Opium Trade, a piece which ran in People magazine in June 1990.
After a series of injuries, later in life, she designed educational video games, one which taught physics to kids and the other which was the first cognitive rehab game for patients with traumatic brain injury. She is now focusing on a literary career which will stand as her final legacy.
Most recently, Karen Petersen's poems, short stories, and flash have appeared in the Saranac Review and Peacock Journal in the USA, The Bosphorus Review in Istanbul, Idiom 23 in Australia and A New Ulster in Northern Ireland. New work will be appearing in The Curlew in the UK, Lighten Up Online, Aurora: EKU, and Trickster in the USA. Her Haiku, Haibun, and Flash have appeared in "A Poet's Picnic," "Wilderness: Land Untrammeled," KYSO, and Mercurial Stories. One of her flash pieces was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Her poems have been translated into Persian and Spanish and she has read at the KGB Bar in NYC and the Yeats Festival in Santa Fe. She was responsible for "The Badlands are Everywhere" evening honoring Malpais Review and editor Gary Brower, at Teatro Paraguas in 2017 and for co-organizing and participating in the "All-Star Poetry Reading" at the Center for Progress and Justice in Santa Fe in 2018. In 2019 she was one of the judges and participants in the Santa Fe Telepoem Booth, a national installation project where members of the public can choose a poem from the 'Telepoem Book' and can then dial that number on the rotary phone inside a vintage phone booth to hear the poet speak the poem. In 2020 she will be one of the state judges in the national Poetry Out Loud competition created by the NEA and Poetry Foundation.
Her work has also appeared in various anthologies and literary magazines: Weaving the Terrain: 100 Word Southwestern Poems (Dos Gatos Press), Missing Persons (Beatlick Press), End of Summer poems (The Alexandria Quarterly Press), Di-verse-city: the Anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, The Ekphrastic Review, Manzano Mountain Review, Malpais Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, The Asses of Parnassus,The Five-Two: Poems on Crime, Antiphon (UK), Orbis (UK), and The Wild Word (Berlin).
As a foreign correspondent she had assignments for The New York Times, Newsweek, Harper's, The Nation, People, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Forward, German GEO, Wildlife Conservation, The Universal Press Syndicate, Hortus, The London Daily Telegraph, The Times of London, Rolling Stone, U.S. News & World Report, Travel & Leisure, Scholastic, Unicef, UNDP, USIA and the World Bank. In 1989, she was the first Western print journalist to go into the jungles of Myanmar to interview General Khun Sa, the King of the Opium Trade.
She has a Media Collection of 800 domestic and international films, 3,000 records, and numerous video games. She collects African and Oceanic tribal art, Chinese snuff bottles, and is also a gardener and plant explorer who gathered seeds in Africa for the NYBG. Her African Photography is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum.
Being able to have a good laugh is important. Be kind and generous. Life is tough. Try not to break. You never know what's around the corner.