About

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The short version:

I earned a B.A. in Theology from Benedictine College and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from North Carolina State University. I live in south-central Kansas with my husband and children, half-wild garden, and many overstuffed bookshelves. I spend my days writing, exploring the world and the arts with my toddlers, and prioritizing good books and hot cups of coffee over housework. 

I’m passionate about reading and creating literature that is Catholic in the deepest sense: work that lives out an aesthetic of joy, work that embodies the good, the true, and the beautiful.

The long version:

I grew up in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri informed by a strong sense of place and, as the daughter of a librarian, an intense love of books: their physicality, pages and paper and ink, shelves upon shelves of them, and all the worlds and people inside them.

I have always believed in the power of words: to discover truth; to create reality; to make sense of, and shape, the world and myself. Words form the lines of relation between my innermost selves and everything else. The (often unconscious) process of learning to map and ride them, as if they were ocean currents, has been the driving rhythm of my life.

For many years, this was only an undefined, vaguely spiritual sense. But that sense of the mystic and ritual helped lead me to study theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. There I discovered both my own Catholic faith and, in the study of languages, specialized vocabulary, and the “big questions,” honed my appreciation for the power and precision of words. How they make us, even as we we make them.

It was almost unintentionally that I turned directly to the study of writing. Academic theology began to be a heavy load, so as my undergraduate studies came to a close, I turned to a rejuvenating source: poetry. I graduated with a Theology B.A., a minor in English Lit, and an acceptance to the M.F.A. program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

My then-fiancé (now husband), Jacob, was going to study chemistry at Penn State; that encouraged me to apply to programs on the east coast that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. The opportunity to study poetry with Dorianne Laux and John Balaban at NCSU is one of the greatest “happy accidents” of my life. I found many great teachers there, for writing and literature. In July 2012, after our first year of graduate studies, Jacob and I were married in a beautiful Extraordinary From mass at a hidden gem of a church in central Pennsylvania. I completed my M.F.A. in May 2013, moved to Pennsylvania full-time, and our son Benedict was born that December.

We moved back to Kansas in June 2014. As much as I had come to love the east coast—the mountains and winding roads and little villages of Pennsylvania, and sprawling, mild-weathered, artistic Raleigh—the midwest is home. Jacob opened my eyes to the beauty of the plains and the incredible diversity of landscape, character, and history that is Kansas. We moved to the greater Wichita area in August, and our daughter Mary was born here in June 2015.

Jacob teaches college chemistry and I spend my days with my children, teaching and playing, reading, and finding time to write. We’re now expecting a second daughter, Elizabeth, due in February 2017. We love our ever-expanding home library, overgrown garden, and family nature activities. It’s a fruitful life for appreciating and writing poetry: the immediate, the sensory, undergirded by strong feeling and the occasional soaring thought.

The power of poetry to create experience in the reader is fundamental to my fascination with it. Poetry that grounds, poetry that illuminates place, continuity, and connection, poetry that meets suffering with compassion–and then raises us up; poetry that illuminates, transforms, and builds bridges between ideas, experience, and people; that is at the heart of what poetry is all about.

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One thought on “About

  1. Great to see some of your work, LeighAnna. I enjoyed the piece you sent me and will keep checking back here. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter!

    Like

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