Louis Jenkins was born and raised in Oklahoma, and moved with his wife Ann to Duluth, Minnesota, in 1971. His poems have been published in a number of literary magazines and anthologies, and he has seventeen collections of his poetry.

He has been awarded two Bush Foundation Fellowships for poetry, a Loft-McKnight Fellowship, and was the 2000 George Morrison Award winner. He has read his poetry on A Prairie Home Companion and was a featured poet at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in 1996 and at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in the UK in 2007.