Bates is the daughter of photographer Liesa Cole. She grew up in Homewood and graduated from Homewood High School. She attended Auburn University where she served as a lead consultant for the Miller Writing Center and as managing editor of the fall 2012 edition of The Auburn Circle literary magazine. She completed a bachelor of arts in creative writing at in 2013.
Bates then moved to Seattle, Washington where her fiancé, Andrew Stahlman, was working as a software engineer. The married in 2015 at J & D Farms in Southside. She was employed as managing editor of the Seattle Review while she completed a master of fine arts in creative writing and poetry at the University of Washington in 2016. She is currently social media manager and manager of "The Parlor" at Open Books: A Poem Emporium in downtown Seattle. She also co-hosts a podcast called "The Poet Salon". In 2022 she guest-edited a special issue of England's Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal focused on works relating to Birmingham, Alabama.
Bates' poems and graphic writings have been published in the American Poetry Review, the Black Warrior Review, the Mississippi Review, the New England Review, The New Yorker, Plougshares, Poetry Magazine, and the Washington Square Review,. Her 2023 poetry collection, Judas Goat was published by Tin House of Portland, Oregon. It was listed as a "must-read book of 2023" by the Chicago Review.
- McAlister, Laura (July 14, 2015) "A barnyard wedding: College sweethearts tie the knot at J&D Farms in Southside, Ala." Birmingham magazine
- Gabrielle Bates website