I am a writer of creative nonfiction, literary nonfiction, journalism, memoir, and some poetry and other genres. I love the essay: the opportunity to reflect, explore, ask questions, and not know. I’m from Illinois, I have a loud laugh, and I like to pick up things I find on the ground.
My books (links below) include Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System, a book of essays on chronic pain, which won the Independent Voice Award from the Independent Publishers’ Association and was a Foreword Review Silver Award Winner.
My work has been published in literary journals and magazines including The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Washington Post Magazine. I’m a professor in the Department of English at Fairfield University and in the Fairfield Low-Residency MFA Program. You can find more of my online essays and commentary here. My essays have won the 2012 Terrain.org Award in Nonfiction and are included in True Stories, Well Told: From the First Twenty Years of Creative Nonfiction; other essay have been named Notable in the Best American Essays in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019. I published an e-book on direct care work with SheBooks, Two Eyes are Never Enough: A Minimum-Wage Memoir.
I’ve been lucky to be able to read and presented my work and led workshops in non-academic settings including with incarcerated men in Connecticut, with doctors and nurses in Iowa, with the U.S. Pain Foundation and local pain support groups, at literary festivals, at the Wisdom House retreat center, with writers at several libraries around the country, with veterans and incarcerated men, and with activists in public housing. In these settings I’ve taught such topics as writing about pain, researching and writing family history, and using memoir and the essay to draw out stories and life insights.
My informal bio with more of the real dirt is here. I blog a lot on random stuff. I wrote the Shadow Syllabus. I write a lot about healthcare, government and economics, being a parent, being politically active, and general nerdery.