Peter Shneidre, born in 1950, grew up in Claremont, California, and moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA in the 1970s. In 1974, Shneidre began publishing small books of poetry and a year later he started Marilyn: The Magazine of Poems with his longtime friend Jeff Powers. After closing down Marilyn in 1978, Shneidre began to collect poetry for his first solo venture, the magazine Orpheus (1980-1983). In 1981, Shneidre began the influential small press, Illuminati Press, which published approximately 100 items over twelve years. Authors published by Illuminati Press include Viggo Mortensen, Charles Bukowski, Kate Braverman, Richard Meltzer and Lyn Lifshin, among others. Between 1985 and 1987, Shneidre also published three issues of his journal Nude Erections, which presented mild eroticism and disquisitions on love.
While Shneidre was running Illuminati Press, he was also involved with the Los Angeles Poetry Theatre (1980-1981) and the organization of poetry readings in various Los Angeles venues including the Beverly Center, Al's Bar and the Ocean Park Branch Library in Santa Monica. The readings and panel discussions included both local and visiting poets. Illuminati Press did not publish any of Shneidre's works, but he was a poet published in many national periodicals, including the Paris Review, Rolling Stone, the Antioch Review and Shenandoah.
After Illuminati Press ceased publication in 1994, Shneidre focused on his own poetry and began to write short fiction, essays and translations of Buddhist texts. He also began writing a series of folk operas on various religious leaders, including Jesus, Buddha and David. Shneidre was an active member of the Vedanta Society of Southern California with his wife, Anya Cronin, until he passed away in 2007.