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Melissa Kwasny

Melissa Kwasny

Melissa Kwasny is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today  (University of Washington Press Pacific Northwest Poetry Series) and Pictograph (Milkweed Editions), as well as a collection of prose writings, Earth Recitals: Essays on Image and Vision (Lynx House Press). She is the editor of Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800–1950 (Wesleyan University Press) and co-editor, with M.L. Smoker, of the anthology I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poets in Defense of Global Human Rights (Lost Horse Press). Recently published by Trinity University Press, Putting on the Dog: The Animal Origins of What We Wear is her first book of investigative nonfiction.

The recipient of the Poetry Society of America's Cecil Hemley Award and Alice Fay di Castognola Award for a work in progress, the Montana Art Council's Artist's Innovation Award, and residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Ucross, and the Headlands Center for the Arts, Kwasny has taught as visiting writer at both the undergraduate and graduate level, including MFA programs at the University of Wyoming, Eastern Washington University/Inland Pacific Center for Writers, and the University of Montana. She teaches literature at Carroll College in Helena and in Lesley University’s Integrated Arts in Learning Masters Program in Education.

Kwasny shares the position of Montana Poet Laureate for 2019-2021 with M.L. Smoker. They have recently been awarded an Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

Artist Statement

Many of us are used to being in nature, but being at the Taft Nicholson Environmental Center is seeing nature close up. It has been a stunning privilege to spend weeks living in the midst of trumpeter swans and their cygnets, white-faced ibis, and nesting eared grebes, numerous moose, antelope, and deer, and to learn about them from the extremely knowledgeable—and generous—staff. The solitude afforded me at the Taft-Nicholson Environmental Center allowed me to accomplish more than was my plan and at the same time offered me countless lessons in ecology and stewardship. Thank goodness there are places that exist like this in the world, not only for me but for the animals, birds, and plants that find refuge there.

Writing Samples


Last Updated: 1/12/22