Francesca Bell was born in Spokane, Washington into a family with deep, hardscrabble roots in the Northwest. Her maternal great-grandfather, the son of a Cherokee prostitute and her client, was raised in a brothel. Four of her maternal grandmother’s five siblings were born on the Yakama Indian Reservation before the family settled in 1910 on a 160-acre homestead in Plummer, Idaho. On her father’s side, the Norwegian Wikum family, when traced 700 years back, was already renowned for its spectacularly heavy drinking. The hard living continued in America where the clan was referred to around Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho as “the fighting Wikums.”
Bell was raised in Washington and Idaho and settled as an adult in California. She did not complete middle school, high school, or college and holds no degrees.
Bell’s poems appear in many magazines including B O D Y, burntdistrict, ELLE, Flycatcher, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, and Zone 3. She has been nominated ten times for the Pushcart Prize and won the 2014 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle. Her translations, from Arabic and German, appear in Berkeley Poetry Review, Blue Lyra Review, Circumference | Poetry in Translation, Four by Two, Laghoo, and The Massachusetts Review. She co-translated Shatha Abu Hnaish's book of poems, A Love That Hovers Like a Bedeviling Mosquito (Dar Fadaat, 2017), and Red Hen Press will publish her first collection, Bright Stain, in 2019. She is the events coordinator for the Marin Poetry Center and the former poetry editor of River Styx.