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Writers Workshop Profiles: Rebecca McClanahan

This post is the second in a series that will give a more in-depth biography for each of KR’s Writers Workshop instructors, as well as collect some of the web resources available for each of them. The Writers Workshop is a seven-day intensive writing experience hosted annually by KR on the Kenyon College campus, focused on producing new work. In 2011, the program will run from June 18th-25th. Find more details on the program here.

In her book, Write Your Heart Out, Rebecca McClanahan counsels, “If external circumstances wage battle against our writing, they are nothing compared to the war that internal circumstances wage, those demon voices that assault even the most confident writer.” McClanahan, the author of nine books of poetry, creative non-fiction and writing instruction, certainly understands the struggles and successes of the writing process, and she’s coming to Gambier this summer to share her insight with the participants in the Writers Workshop as an instructor of Literary Nonfiction.

Rebecca McClanahan was born in Lafayette, Indiana, the location of her maternal grandparents’ farm, the “spiritual homeplace” to which she often returned despite her childhood moves to North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and California. McClanahan earned a B.A. from California State University and a Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. McClanahan currently teaches in the MFA programs of Queens University and Rainier Writers Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.

Before she moved to New York–where she spent eleven years before recently returning to North Carolina–McClanahan directed the University of North Carolina Writing Project and its affiliates, the Open Institute, and the Reading-Writing Institute. She was the Writer-in-Residence/Director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Poetry-in-the-Schools program, earning a Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education for her service.

McClanahan also offers instruction in creative writing through her books, including One Word Deep: Lectures and Readings, Word Painting: a Guide to Writing More Descriptively, and Write Your Heart Out. In addition to these books about the writing life, McClanahan has written five books of poetry, most recently Deep Light: New and Selected Poems (2007), and one book of literary nonfiction, The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings, which won a Glasgow Prize.

McClanahan has received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the Wood Prize from Poetry Magazine, and a North Carolina Writers Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry and The Best American Essays series. McClanahan’s fiction has earned a Pushcart Prize, a P.E.N. Syndicated Fiction Award, and a Bread Loaf Scholarship in fiction.

In addition to her nine published books, McClanahan’s work has appeared in Ms. Magazine, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Boulevard, Seventeen, and many more literary magazines and anthologies. McClanahan’s extensive publications and award-winning teaching inform her excellent workshops in literary nonfiction, and we are lucky to have her in Gambier this summer as an instructor in the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop.

Please visit McClanahan’s website, which features much of her material, including publications, recordings, reviews and interviews, and further biographic material.