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Ana Maria Spagna, MFA

Antioch University Los Angeles

Ana Maria Spagna is the author of several award-winning nonfiction books including Reclaimers, stories of indigenous women reclaiming sacred land and waterthe memoir/history Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter’s Civil Rights Journey, winner of the River Teeth literary nonfiction prize, and three essay collections, Potluck, Now Go Home, and most recently, Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going. She has also written a novel for young people, The Luckiest Scar on Earth, about a 14-year-old snowboarder and her activist father, and her first chapbook of poetry, At Mile Marker Six, will appear in Fall 2021. Ana Maria’s work has been recognized by the Society for Environmental Journalists, the Nautilus Book Awards, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, and as a four-time finalist for the Washington State Book Award.  Her essays have recently appeared in Fourth Genre, Ecotone, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, The Normal School, and Hotel Amerika. After working fifteen years on backcountry trail crews for the National Park Service, she turned to teaching and, in addition to Antioch, has served as a visiting writer at Whitman College, St. Lawrence University, and the University of Montana.

Teaching Statement

The decision to enter an MFA program is a gigantic leap of faith. A writer’s willingness to commit to art, to trying to make sense of the world on the page, to a future that may look a whole lot less secure than, say, getting an MBA awes me. So I approach my job with humility. It’s not about me. It’s about you. I’m here to discover what your passion is, to help you hone and shape and stretch, to introduce you to books and writers you may not know, craft techniques and revision strategies you may not have tried, and eventually publishing venues and opportunities to join the larger literary community.

My passion lies in creative nonfiction. I have written and published in several sub-genres – essay, memoir, history, politics, immersion journalism, even faux self-help – and I love the fluidity of the forms and the ways they can cross-pollinate. This extends beyond the CNF realm, too. I love when students stretch beyond their comfort zones, to experiment with fiction and poetry. (My graduate degree is in fiction writing, and without it, I’d never have published my nonfiction … a long story for another time.) I’m also a fanatic about revision and will urge students to revise pieces multiple times.

I used to think I’d never experience anything quite like seeing my own words in print. I figured that to be the pinnacle of a writing career – and yeah, it’s great! – but lately I’ve come to realize seeing your student’s work face-front at the local bookstore is every bit as thrilling … and maybe more.

Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going
The Luckiest Scar on Earth
100 Skills for the End of the World (as we know it)
Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness
Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter’s Civil Rights Journey
Now Go Home: Wilderness, Belonging, and the Crosscut Saw

Ana Maria Spagna, MFA, CNF Faculty

Affiliate Faculty,

MFA in Creative Writing Program


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