Kaya Oakes is an American writer and poet from the Bay Area of California. She was born in Oakland and earned an MFA in creative writing at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga. Since 1999, Oakes has taught writing at the University of California, Berkeley.
Her first book, Telegraph, a collection of poetry published in 2007, received the Transcontinental Poetry Prize from Pavement Saw Press in 2008. Her nonfiction book, Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture, was published by Henry Holt in June 2009. She is an editor for the religion website Killing the Buddha.
In 2002, she co-founded Kitchen Sink Magazine, which received the Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Magazine in 2003. Oakes edited and wrote for Kitchen Sink until it ended its print run in 2007. She has been the recipient of teaching fellowships from the Mellon Faculty Institute and the Bay Area Writing Project, as well as a writing prize from the Academy of American Poets. Oakes has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in nonfiction.
In her memoir, Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church, published by Counterpoint in June 2012, Oakes, who had been raised Catholic, recounts how, after years of proudly calling herself an atheist and despite her frustration with Catholic conservatism, she returned to the Catholic faith.