2021 Workshop Faculty
Laura Pritchett is an American author whose work is rooted in the natural world. She began her writing journey with the short story collection Hell’s Bottom, Colorado (Minnesota/Milkweed, 2001), which won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize. This was followed by the novels Sky Bridge (Minnesota/Milkweed, 2005), Stars Go Blue (Counterpoint, 2014), Red Lightning (Counterpoint, 2015), and The Blue Hour (Counterpoint, 2017), all of which garnered numerous literary awards, including the High Plains Book Award and the WILLA. Stars Go Blue, her bestselling novel, has been optioned for film.
She’s also written two nonfiction books, Great Colorado Bear Stories (Montana: Riverbend Press, 2012) and Making Friends with Death: A Field Guide to Your Impending Last Breath (Viva Editions, 2017).
Environmental issues are close to her heart, and she’s editor of three anthologies about conservation for which she also contributed selections: Pulse of the River: Colorado Writers Speak for the Endangered Cache la Poudre (Johnson Books, 2007— finalist for the Colorado Book Award) Home Land: Ranching and a West that Works (Johnson Books, 2007. Winner of the Colorado Book Award), and Going Green: True Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers, and Dumpster Divers (University of Oklahoma Press, 2009–finalist for the Colorado Book Award).
Her work has appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, The Sun, Orion, Pinch, High Desert Journal, Lit Hub, Publisher’s Weekly, The Normal School, Writers on the Range, OnEarth, Brain, Teen, and many others. She has been recognized by several organizations for environmental stewardship.
Laura holds a PhD from Purdue University and teaches at various writing conferences around the country and is the Director of the Nature Writing MFA Program at Colorado Western University.
When not writing or teaching, she can generally be found outside in Colorado’s mountains.
“Laura Pritchett’s is a fine new voice, fully her own, with wise sensibilities. The deep territory mapped here in the triangular boundary between regret and endurance and hope is well illuminated and finely wrought.” —Rick Bass, author of The Stars, the Sky, the Wilderness
“Stars Go Blue manages to be both warm–hearted and violent at once—
a complex deeply–imagined family tale which finds unexpected gifts at its conclusion. Laura Pritchett is a writer who knows country life on the Rocky Mountain front range thoroughly and she conveys this physical world expertly, beautifully out of her long experience. Within this specific place her clear depiction of character and suspenseful delivery of story compel us to the last exact word.” —Kent Haruf, author of Plainsong and Eventide
“[The Blue Hour] This deeply emotional and sensual novel, Pritchett reminds us that we can go on in bleak times and that even in dark moments there are sparks of joy and renewal . . . Pritchett’s book will help you forget the turmoil in the world around us and luxuriate in the glory of what it means to be simply and beautifully human.” —PBS NewsHour
“Pritchett is boldly lyrical, whether she is writing about the eyes of archangels or the dawning of a new day, or especially the love lives of her diverse cast of characters, united in both a quest for love and residence around the beautiful Blue Moon Mountain . . . In this elegant book, there’s an appealing verisimilitude in the way the characters are variously, tentatively connected.” — Publishers Weekly
Author website: laurapritchett.com
(Image Source: westworld.com)
Alyson Hagy grew up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Michigan. While at Michigan, she was awarded a Hopwood Prize in Short Fiction and a Roy Cowden Fellowship. Early stories were published
in Sewanee Review, Crescent Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review.
Hagy taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan, and the Stonecoast Writers Conference in Maine before joining the faculty at the University of Wyoming in 1996.
She is the author of eight works of fiction, including Madonna On Her Back (Stuart Wright, 1986), Hardware River (Poseidon Press, 1991), Keeneland (Simon & Schuster, 2000), Graveyard of the Atlantic (Graywolf Press, 2000), Snow, Ashes (Graywolf Press, 2007), Ghosts of Wyoming (Graywolf Press, 2010), and Boleto (Graywolf Press, 2012).
Her most recent novel Scribe (2018) is described by Graywolf Press as “a haunting, evocative tale about the power of storytelling, drawing on traditional folktales and the history and culture of Appalachia” where the author “has crafted a gripping, swiftly plotted novel that touches on pressing issues of our time— migration, pandemic disease, the rise of authoritarianism—and makes a compelling case for the power of stories to both show us the world and transform it.”
Hagy has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. Her work has won a Pushcart Prize, the Nelson Algren Prize, the High Plains Book Award, the Devil’s Kitchen Award, the Syndicated Fiction Award, and been included in Best American Short Stories. Recent fiction has appeared in Drunken Boat, The Idaho Review, Kenyon Review, INCH, and Michigan Quarterly Review.
Abiding interests include hiking, fishing, cohabitating with Labrador Retrievers, college athletics, and making artist’s books. She lives in Laramie, Wyoming.
“Alyson Hagy’s Scribe is a lean, hard wolf of a thing. There’s something feral and panting about it. Vicious. It is sour and cruel and vivid, with a long memory and blood in its teeth. It gives nothing away….In the end, Scribe finally feels like an Appalachian fairy tale, pared-down and merciless in its telling. It’s a story that doesn’t stop when you close the covers, but continues growing until the shadow of it is larger than you recall. — Jason Sheehan, NPR Book Reviews
“Scribe, which begins with the baying of hounds and ends with silence, reminds us on every page that humans remain the storytelling animal, and that therein might lie our salvation. . . . In this brave new world, a woman with a pen may prove mightier than a man with a sword.”— The New York Times Book Review
“Good stories teach us how to read them, and the opening pages of Boleto are entertaining, entrancing teachers. . . . Hagy often dazzles with her descriptions of the Wyoming landscape and wildlife. Whether it’s the corral of the Testerman ranch, the rugged passes of the Black Bell Ranch or the depressed outskirts of Anaheim, the settings glimmer with well-chosen metaphors.” — The New York Times Book Review
“In her gift for the language of horses, as in the beauty of her prose, Hagy will inevitably recall Annie Proulx, Kent Haruf and Cormac McCarthy. But she is writing as much about wealth and class, about work and privilege, as about horses and the Western landscape.” — The Washington Post
Author website: alysonhagy.com
(Image Source: alysonhagy.com)
Derek Sheffield’s collection Not for Luck (Michigan State UP, 2021) was selected by Mark Doty for the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize. His other books include Through the Second Skin (Orchises Press, 2013), runner-up for the Emily Dickinson First Book Award and finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and A Revised Account of the West, winner of the Hazel Lipa Environmental Chapbook Award judged by Debra Marquart. With Simmons Buntin and Elizabeth Dodd, he co-edited Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy (Trinity University Press & Terrain.org, 2020)
He is the recipient of the James Hearst Poetry Prize judged by Li-Young Lee, fellowships from Artist Trust, the Spring Creek Project, Allied Arts, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and a Special Mention in the 2016 Pushcart Prize Anthology. Vijay Seshadri chose his poem as the sole finalist for the 2018 Lynda Hull Memorial Award.
His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, AGNI, Poetry Northwest, Orion, Shenandoah, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and on NPR’s Poetry Moment, and have been part of many anthologies, including New Poets of the American West, The Ecopoetry Anthology, Nature and Environmental Writing: A Guide and Anthology, A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins, and River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia.
When Derek isn’t writing, teaching, or editing, he can often be found in the mountains of North Central Washington. He is the poetry editor of Terrain.org.
“Derek Sheffield, one of the Northwest’s most important ecologically centered writers, crafts poetry that often intermingles the human and non-human worlds. In his works wilderness enriches us, makes us more human, and reminds us of our own primordial origins.” — Shenandoah
“In Not for Luck, Derek Sheffield achieves something of inestimable value: a trustworthy, convincing voice.” — Mark Doty, winner of the National Book Award and author of What Is the Grass
“These letters (in DEAR AMERICA) come from a deep, real love of this place, and they imagine willing, receptive readers on the other end. We need a series of miracles looking forward, and this is one.
— Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and co-founder of 350.org
Derek Sheffield often treks near a swift river, among trees and weed-slick rocks, eddies of swirling brooks, under a big sky, in a territory called Wenatchee. He’s willingly among the elements, but his view is often inward, particularly—and movingly—when he writes about his daughters. In “Her Present” he and one of his daughters ready themselves before they leap as one from the bank into the icy river. It’s a countdown for them, a “three, two . . .” then the gleeful exhilaration of smacking glacial water. It is what I feel in these poems—exhilaration at finding this true voice in our Western landscape.
— Gary Soto, author of New and Selected Poems, finalist for the National Book Award
Author website: dereksheffield.com
(Image Source: dereksheffield.com)
Carson Vaughan is a freelance journalist and author from central Nebraska who writes frequently about the Great Plains. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review Daily, Outside, Pacific Standard, Slate, The Atlantic, VICE, In These Times, and more. His first book, Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream (Little A), was published in April, 2019, and was named a “Favorite Nonfiction book of 2019” by Bookriot.com and was chosen as “Amazon First Reads” selection.
He is currently working on a second book of narrative nonfiction chronicling both the history and contemporary world of cowboy poetry. His profile “My Cousin, The Cowboy Poet” was published in the March 16, 2016, online edition of The New Yorker.
Vaughan was awarded the 2018 John M. Collier Award for Forest History Journalism from the Forest History Society for his Weather.com feature, “Uprooting FDR’s ‘Great Wall of Trees.’” He was also a recipient of a 2018 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council.
His website, carsonvaughan.com, illustrates his varied writings and interest in such areas as rural America, the American West, Nebraska history, the environment and the arts. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and bachelors in both English and Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He currently lives in Chicago.
“[Zoo Nebraska] A marvelous, meaningful book, full of deep reporting, fine writing, and big questions about the nature of community, of living with animals, of challenging values. Zoo Nebraska will surprise and engage you and make you think.” — Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief
Author website: carsonvaughan.com
(Image Source: Mary Anne Andrei)