Barbara Drake is the author of two collections of personal essays, Peace at Heart: an Oregon Country Life, and Morning Light, both published by Oregon State University Press and both Oregon Book Award finalists (1999 and 2016). Her newest poetry book is The Road to Lilac Hill: Poems of Time, Place, and Memory, published by Windfall Press, December 2018.  Her previous poetry collections include Driving One Hundred, Love at the Egyptian Theatre, What We Say to Strangers, Life in a Gothic Novel, Bees in Wet Weather, and Small Favors. Her widely used college textbook, Writing Poetry, has been in print since 1983.

Drake was born in Abilene Kansas in 1939, moved west with her parents when she was two years old, grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon, and graduated from Marshfield High School in 1957. She received her BA in English literature from the University of Oregon in 1961. She spent a year traveling through Europe with her first husband Albert Drake, living on the Greek island of Corfu for six months, an intensely life-changing experience.  Her first child was born in 1963 when the couple lived in a stone cabin in the woods outside Portland, Oregon. She returned to graduate school at U of O in the fall of 1964. Her second child, Monica, was born during finals week in 1965, in Eugene, Oregon. Drake received her MFA from the University of Oregon in 1966.  After graduate school the family moved to Michigan. Drake worked writing textbooks for the Oregon Curriculum Study Center and Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. Her third child, Bellen, was born in Lansing, in 1967. 

Drake taught in the Michigan Writers in the Schools program until she returned to full-time college teaching in 1974, in the American Thought and Language department at Michigan State University. In 1983 she returned to Oregon and began teaching at Linfield College in McMinnville Oregon where she developed the new undergraduate creative writing program and taught until she retired as Full Professor Emerita in 2007.  Besides creative writing, she taught environmental literature, women’s studies, Irish literature, and January term travel courses in American Expatriate Writers in Europe. While retired, she continues to write and give readings and offers occasional writing workshops. She and her husband William Beckman live with their two border collies, an orange cat, and assorted chickens on a small Yamhill County farm which was the inspiration for her nonfiction. They have a large combined family.