Kevin Stein's poems and essays have appeared widely in journals such as American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Colorado Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, and TriQuarterly. Stein’s recent poetry collections include Wrestling Li Po for the Remote (Fifth Star Press, 2013) and Sufficiency of the Actual (University of Illinois Press, 2009). His earlier full-length collection, American Ghost Roses (University of Illinois Press, 2005), garnered the Society of Midland Authors 2006 Poetry Award. Other collections include Chance Ransom (University of Illinois Press, 2000), Bruised Paradise(University of Illinois Press, 1996) and A Circus of Want (University of Missouri Press), winner of the 1992 Devins Award for Poetry. His prize-winning poetry chapbooks are The Figure Our Bodies Make (St. Louis Poetry Center, 1988) and A Field of Wings (Illinois Writers, Inc., 1986).
Stein has also written three books of literary criticism, including Poetry’s Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age (University of Michigan Press, 2010). This volume surveys the current state of American poetry, traces how we arrived at this point, and suggests where we’re going given technological innovations in the ways poetry is written as well as distributed. Earlier, Stein’s Private Poets, Worldly Acts, essays on the interplay of contemporary poetry and history, was published by Ohio University Press (1996) and reprinted in paperback in 1999. That volume earned recognition as an Amazon.com Recommended Book. Stein's James Wright: The Poetry of a Grown Man (Ohio University Press, 1989) is considered the definitive study of Wright’s work.
In addition, Stein has edited two anthologies devoted to Illinois poetry. Bread & Steel (Café Press, 2007)is the first-ever audio CD presentation of the state’s poets, gathering 24 authors reading from their works. Illinois Voices (University of Illinois Press, 2001) offers a comprehensive anthology of twentieth-century Illinois poetry selected by Stein and his co-editor, the late G. E. Murray.
Stein has received numerous awards including the 2013 Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor's Prize and the Vernon Louis Parrington Medal for Distinguished Writing. He has been awarded Poetry's Frederick Bock Prize, the 1998 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, the Stanley Hanks Chapbook Award, and four Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards for his poetry. In addition, he has been the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship and three such fellowships awarded by the Illinois Arts Council. Named 1989 Bradley University Professor of the Year for excellence in teaching, Stein is Caterpillar Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing Program at Bradley University, Peoria, IL. In December 2003, the Governor of Illinois named Kevin Stein the state's fourth Poet Laureate. Stein assumes the position previously held by Howard Austin, Carl Sandburg, and Gwendolyn Brooks.