I was born in Chicago but I've lived beside a lake in Minneapolis, on a sleepy street in Indiana, in a rural mountain village in Washington, across from a Mattress Mart in California, upon the side of a volcano in Ecuador, near the coupling of train cars in Montana, and between the dusty walls of a farmhouse in Iowa. Now I live in Northfield, Minnesota where the re-enactment of a bank raid each year is softened with the scent of chocolate breakfast cereal cooking in the Malt O Meal factory down the road.
I studied creative writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Montana and earned a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College. I currently teach composition and creative writing at St. Olaf College.
I'm the author of The Rending and the Nest, Tailings: A Memoir, and Tanka & Me. I also am the co-editor of Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts. My poems and prose can be found in journals such as Crazyhorse, Pleiades, jubilat, Witness, Minnesota Review and the anthology Fiction on a Stick. I've been the recipient of a Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, a Loft Mentor Series Award, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net Anthology award.
A poem of mine is printed on a sidewalk square in the town where I live. This means that lots of people can read my words or ignore them, decorate them with sidewalk chalk or spill Pinot Grigio into their very crevices. This makes me happy. I think writing belongs in the messy middle of our lives, making us stranger and stronger, word by word.