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Sharman Apt Russell, MFA

Antioch University Los Angeles

Sharman Apt Russell (creative nonfiction faculty) is the recipient of the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing for Diary of a Citizen Scientist (Oregon State University Press, 2014), which also won the WILLA Award and was named by The Guardian as a top ten nature book. The Burroughs Medal was first given in 1926 and recipients include Aldo Leopold, Roger Tory Peterson, Rachel Carson, and contemporary writers like John McPhee and Barry Lopez. Her forthcoming Within Our Grasp: Childhood Malnutrition Worldwide and the Revolution Taking Place to End It (Pantheon Books, 2021) combines her longtime interest in the environment with her longtime interest in hunger.

She is now working on a memoir project about test pilots and the Mojave Desert that she loves and doubts in equal measure. Recent work in fiction include Knocking on Heaven’s Door (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016), an eco-sci-fi set in a Paleoterrific future, winner of the Arizona Authors Association and New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Science Fiction, and her award-winning YA Teresa of the New World (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015), a story of plagues, were-jaguars, and the dreamscape of the sixteenth-century American Southwest.

Sharman’s Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist was one of Booklist’s top ten books in religion. Her Hunger: An Unnatural History was written with the help of a Rockefeller Fellowship. Her work has been translated into nine languages and her essays published in many magazines, journals, and anthologies. Sharman has also been awarded a Writers at Work Fellowship, a Henry Joseph Jackson Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award. She has thrice judged the PEN Award in Children’s Literature.

Educational History

BS in Conservation and Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley
MFA in Creative Writing, University of Montana, Missoula

Teaching Statement

My goal as a teacher is to increase a student’s authority as a writer. I am here to encourage and support that authority. I can help students better revise their work. I can teach students how to talk about writing with other writers. I can help them feel more centered in who they are as writers and why they write. I can serve as an editor and mentor. I can model a writer’s life. As well as teaching at WNMU and Antioch University, for the last fifteen years I have been a visiting writer at universities and colleges across the country. My areas of particular interest are creative nonfiction (personal essay and research-based prose), children’s literature, nature writing, science writing, environmental issues, and social justice.

Within Our Grasp: Feeding the World’s Children for a Better and Greener Future (Pantheon Publishing, 2019)
Knocking on Heaven’s Door (Skyhorse/Yucca Publishers, 2016)
Teresa of the New World (Skyhorse/Yucca Publishers, 2015)
Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World (Oregon State University Press, 2014)
Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist
 
(Basic Books, 2008, reprinted by Horseshoe Press, 2016)
Hunger: An Unnatural History (Basic Books, 2005)
An Obsession with Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect (Perseus Books, 2003)
Anatomy of a Rose: Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers (Perseus Books, March, 2001)
The Last Matriarch (University of New Mexico Press, 2000, reprinted by Horseshoe Press, 2016)
When the Land was Young: Reflections on American Archaeology (Addison-Wesley, 1996, re-issued by University of Nebraska Press, 2001, reprinted by Horseshoe Press, 2016)
The Humpbacked Fluteplayer (Knopf Publishing for Young Readers, 1994)
Kill the Cowboy: A Battle of Mythology in the New West (Addison-Wesley, 1993, re-issued by University of Nebraska Press, 2001, reprinted by Horseshoe Press, 2016)
Songs of the Fluteplayer: Seasons of Life in the Southwest (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1991, reissued by University of Nebraska Press, 2002, reprinted by Horseshoe Press, 2016)

2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing for Diary of a Citizen Scientist
2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards Winner in science fiction and Arizona Authors Association Awards Winner in fiction for Knocking on Heaven’s Door
2016 May Sarton Young Adult finalist and WILLA Finalist for Children’s Literature, Women Writing the West, for Teresa of the New World
2015 WILLA Award for Nonfiction, Women Writing the West, for Diary of a Citizen Scientist
2015 Arizona Authors Association Awards Winner for Teresa of the New World
2015 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards Finalist for Diary of a Citizen Scientist and Teresa of the New World
2009 New Mexico Book Awards Finalist and Booklist’s Top Ten Books in Religion for Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist
2009, 2003 WNMU Research Award for Excellence
2003, 2007, 2012 PEN West judge for Children’s Literature
2003 Independent Bookseller Recommendations, Book Sense 76 for An Obsession with Butterflies
2002 Rockefeller Foundation Residency, Bellagio, Italy
1992 Mountain and Plains Booksellers Award for Songs of the Fluteplayer
1992 New Mexico Presswomen’s Zia Award for Songs of the Fluteplayer
1990 Pushcart Prize, essay “Illegal Aliens” published in Pushcart Prize Anthology XV
1989, Writers at Work Fellowship Winner in Nonfiction, Park City, Utah
1989, Henry Joseph Jackson Award in Nonfiction, San Francisco, CA

Sharman Russell

Affiliate Faculty,

MFA in Creative Writing Program

CONTACT INFORMATION

Courses Taught

American Nature Writing in the Twenty-first Century
Magic as Metaphor: Writing Children’s Literature
Writing as Archaeology
Living in Dreamtime: Writing the Book Proposal
Writing as the Other
Writing as a Pantheist
Writing down the World: Research-based Prose
Writing and Teaching

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