I am the author of three books of poetry, The Body Is No Machine (2007), In the Human Zoo (2011), and No Confession, No Mass (2015). My poems have been described as “muscular,” “hard-working,” “grimly witty,” “scientific,” and “ecstatic.” (I haven’t yet decided how many of those terms also accurately describe me.) I’ve also recently completed a novel, Safekeeping, about a teenage girl who discovers her family’s criminal secret and is forced to decide whether to protect her loved ones or to save herself. Like most writers, I’m an avid reader, too—you can find out who my favorite authors are, see what I’m reading now, and recommend books for me to add to my ever-expanding to-read list at Goodreads.
Since 2006, I’ve taught at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where I also direct the Women’s and Gender Studies program. At Drake, I teach courses in poetry, fiction, graphic narrative, science fiction, horror writing, translation, creative collaboration, creativity through constraints, representations of sexuality, women’s studies, queer theories, transgender studies, social justice, and Holocaust literature. Outside of my work with Drake, I also facilitate writing workshops for high school students, incarcerated people, and veterans and their families. Though my teaching encompasses a wide range of topics, in all of my classes I seek to foster enthusiasm for curiosity, inquiry, and experimentation; empower students to be assertive, active participants both in their learning process and in their daily lives; encourage students to practice contemplation, reflection, and embodied mindfulness; and challenge students to understand revision as a process of “seeing again,” of envisioning multiple new possibilities, whether for a poem or for one’s role in the world.
Odds & Ends:
Originally a Jersey girl, I lived in New York, Kentucky, and Massachusetts before moving to Pennsylvania to study religion, art, writing, and women’s studies at Susquehanna University. I left school for several years to farm sod, provide in-home care to mentally ill people, and sell everything from donuts to CDs, before deciding to earn money the old-fashioned way—by appearing on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I won enough to pay for my last semester of college, after which I went on to graduate school, earning an MA in English from Bucknell University and a PhD in English/Creative Writing from Florida State University. When I’m not writing or teaching, I grow okra, sunchokes, and other deliciousness; practice and teach yoga; romp around with my lab/greyhound, calico, and human companions; and seek out mountains to hike.