My creative life started with photography. When my daughter was born in 1975, I took a black and white darkroom course through the Waseca extension campus of the University of Minnesota program and launched my fascination with the photograph. I’d watched my father take photos with a Brownie and a Konica and taken my own photos with a Kodak Instamatic, but my real interest in photography began in the darkroom.
The same year I launched the Waseca Art Council with a few other ambitious Wasecans and we held our first Art in the Park with Poetry Outloud guests, Phebe Hansen, Cary Waterman and Bill Holm. I displayed my first photograph, “Sand” in the juried art show.
In the fall of 1976 I returned to teaching English, but I continued to take courses in photography from Nadine and Craig Blacklock through the Split Rock Artist Program. I took a basic photo class and climbed Palisade Head before dawn to photograph peregrine falcons in the golden cliff light. I also took a photo essay class through Split Rock at Cascade River, photographing waterfalls, harebells and bubbles on a moving, dark surface.
After thirteen years of teaching English in the Mankato Public Schools, and earning an MS in Reading, I moved back to the Twin Cities in 1987. Between 1987-1990 I taught in the COMPAS Writer’s in the Schools, Dialogue, and Literary Post programs, teaching K-12 students, teachers, and mentoring Minnesota writers. I published freelance book reviews at the Star Tribune and Minnesota Women’s Press, as well as travel articles at the Minnesota Explorer and the Star Tribune. Several of my travel articles were published in the “Midwest Travel” section of the Star Tribune with my accompanying black and white or color photographs.
I completed my MA in English with a Focus on Writing in 1992. Between 1990-2004 I taught a variety of creative writing courses at The Loft in travel writing, memoir and flash fiction, as well as working privately as teacher, editor and coach for many poets, memoirists, and fiction writers. During that time I published poetry and fiction in 100 Words, ArtWord Quarterly, Flyway, The Minnesota Monthly, Mother Superior, and North Coast Review. I also received grants in fiction from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the University of California at Davis as well as a Loft Faculty Development Grant.
In my first writing residency at the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, I spent my mornings writing, my late afternoons taking photographs, and my evening in the darkroom, developing in black and white. Through this process, the inspiration for Available Light, a novel about two photographers, evolved. In the fall and winter of 1999-2000, I spent two months at the Norcroft Writing Retreat for Women working on my writing and photography, as well as hiking the Superior trails and kayaking through coves and caves.
In 2000 I traveled to Belgium for a month on a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant to do research on my novel, Available Light, and I photographed sites that I later incorporated into my novel about family ties in the Flemish polders. I also received a Nolte-Miller Full Scholarship in fiction from the University of Minnesota and an Award of Merit in Byline’s Poetry Chapbook Competition.
I started teaching adjunct college-level writing courses part and full time in Fall, 2000 in the private and community college systems. Ten poems from Missing earned me a finalist position for the Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize in 2001. I also published my black and white photos in the literary magazine, 100 Words. Since then my poetry and fiction have appeared in The North Stone Review, Passages North, Nimrod International, Flyway and Phantasmagoria.
In 2004 Pudding House Publications released my chapbook, Missing. I moderated MNSCU Writers Read Their Work twice and participated in the Poetry Month Pilot Project at Century College, as well as reading my poetry and fiction at area venues, including The Loft Literary Center, The University of St. Thomas, Normandale Bookstore, the Minnesota State Fair and Century College. In 2007 I received a writing fellowship at Mallard Island and in 2008 I worked with Doug Beasley at Mallard in the Zen and the Art of Photography workshop.
After a stroke in the eye, complicated by double vision, I resigned from college teaching in the summer of 2009, and returned to writing full time. I published Salt Heart, a poetry collection with Nodin Press on April 1 of 2013 and completed a chapbook, Catalpa, to be published by Green Fuse Press in the fall of 2013. I now turn my attention to my novel, Parallax, which is currently being read by my editor. My 2012 travel photographs of Italy, Turkey, Croatia and the Greek Islands are posted on my website as well as my photographs of One Season in My Gardens 2013.