The Elk River faculty is comprised of some of the finest nature writers in the country, teachers who are dedicated to providing a supportive and inclusive classroom environment.
Debra Magpie Earling
Debra Magpie Earling is the author of Perma Red and The Lost Journals of Sacajewea. An earlier version of the latter, written in verse, was produced as an artist book during the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. She received the Mountains and Plains Best First Novel Award, the Western Writer’s Association Spur Award for best first novel and the Award for best novel of the year, and is the winner of the American Book Award.
She has received both a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She retired from the University of Montana where she was named professor emeritus in 2021. She is Bitterroot Salish.
Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer, Min Chung, who emigrated from Hoiping, China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations.
His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.
Jamie’s latest novel, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy, was published August 2022 by Simon & Schuster.
His work has been translated into 35 languages. (He’s still holding out for Klingon, because that’s when you know you’ve made it).
Sean Hill is the author of two poetry collections, Dangerous Goods, awarded the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, and Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, named one of the Ten Books All Georgians Should Read in 2015 by the Georgia Center for the Book. He’s received numerous awards including fellowships from Cave Canem, the Region 2 Arts Council, the Bush Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, The Jerome Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, the University of Wisconsin, a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Hill’s poems and essays have appeared in Callaloo, Harvard Review, New England Review, Orion, Oxford American, Poetry, Tin House, and numerous other journals, and in over a dozen anthologies including Black Nature and Villanelles.
He has served as the director of the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference at Bemidji State University since 2012, and is a consulting editor at Broadsided Press. He has taught at several universities, including at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks and Georgia Southern University as an Assistant Professor. Hill lives in Montana where he is the Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Montana.
Laura Pritchett is an American author whose work is rooted in the natural world. She began her writing journey with the short story collection Hell’s Bottom, Colorado, which won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize. This was followed by the novels Sky Bridge, Stars Go Blue, Red Lightning, and The Blue Hour, which garnered numerous literary awards, including the High Plains Book Award and the WILLA.
Laura’s work has appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, The Sun, Orion, Pinch, High Desert Journal, Lit Hub, Publisher’s Weekly, The Normal School, Writers on the Range, OnEarth, Brain, Teen, and many others. She has been recognized by several organizations for environmental stewardship. She holds a PhD from Purdue University and teaches at various writing conferences around the country. When not writing or teaching, she can generally be found outside in Colorado’s mountains.
Sean Singer is the author of Discography (Yale University Press, 2002), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America; Honey & Smoke (Eyewear Publishing, 2015); and Today in the Taxi (Tupelo Press, 2022). He runs a manuscript consultation service at seansingerpoetry.com.
J. Drew Lanham
2022 MacArthur Fellow J. Drew Lanham is a Clemson University Master Teacher, Alumni Distinguished Professor, and Provost’s Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation. A faculty member since 1995, Drew is an internationally respected conservation and cultural ornithologist. He is a past board member of several organizations including the National Audubon Society, Aldo Leopold Foundation, the American Birding Association, and BirdNote. He is also the former chairperson of the advisory board for Audubon South Carolina and was a twelve-year member of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation.
Drew is a widely published author and poet focusing on a passion for place and the personal and societal conflicts that sometimes put conservation and culture at odds. Drew was named the poet laureate for his home place county of Edgefield, South Carolina in 2018 and is the author of Sparrow Envy- Poems.
His award-winning book, The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature exemplifies his passion to define environmental sustainability and conservation in new ways by bridging the gaps between advocacy, education, inspiration, and conservation.
His essay, “Forever Gone,” a lyrical treatise on extinction, was chosen as a Best American Essay of 2018. A contributing author to numerous periodicals and anthologies, he has been summer faculty at the Bread Loaf Environmental Writing Workshop and the Writing in the Ruins Workshop. As a Black American, he’s intrigued with how ethnic prisms bend perceptions of nature and its care.
After flying into Bozeman from Wisconsin sometime in her late 30s, Maggie Anderson rented a car after an interview for a position on a microbial engineering project at Montana State University and drove up the Gallatin Canyon. She knew right then, driving that beautiful, treacherous road with tears running down her face, that her previous zip codes would be replaced by making that stunning valley her home. Her love affair with the mountain west was born in that rental car.
Maggie spent the lion’s share of her professional life as a hired pen, crafting communications for businesses, educational institutions, medical facilities and anything in between. She wrote scripts for everything from magnetic resonance imaging to vocational education programs, to a medication for horses to prevent a tick-born disease and the community education of public school bond and funding elections. Her expertise was used to produce written material, videos, websites, tv and radio commercials and gala grand openings. Maggie wrote for others almost daily for decades, but only in recent years did she begin to write for herself.
Her first book, Between Rock and a Hard Place, was published in 2023. She lives in Paradise Valley with two dogs, two horses and a very delinquent cat. She still finds her peace in wild places in the mountains and advocating for those places.
Clay Bolt is an award-winning natural history and conservation photographer specializing in the world’s smaller creatures. He regularly partners with organizations such as the National Geographic Society and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. His current major focus is on North America’s native bees and the important roles that they play in our lives. Clayvwas a leading voice in the fight to protect the rusty-patched bumble bee under the Endangered Species Act, which became North America’s first federally protected native bee in 2017.
Rich Hall is a multi-award-winning comedian, musician, and author. He wrote for David Letterman and appeared frequently as a guest. He was also a cast member and writer for “Saturday Night Live,” “Fridays” and “Not Necessarily The News.” In 1998, he created his alter-ego, Otis Lee Crenshaw, a redneck jailbird from Tennessee, which won him a Perrier Award at Edinburgh in 2000. He moved to the UK in 2001, and has been touring the country and appearing on numerous British TV shows since. He has also written and presented ten highly acclaimed documentaries for BBC Four, including “How the West Was Lost” and “Countrier Than You.” He lives with his wife, Karen, alternating between homes in West London and Livingston, Montana.
Sterling HolyWhiteMountain grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, ESPN.com., and Montana Quarterly. In 2020, HolyWhiteMountain was named a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, where he was previously a Wallace Stegner fellow. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has held fellowships at the University of Wisconsin and at the Fine Arts Work Center. He is an unrecognized citizen of the Blackfeet Nation.
Brad Orsted is a wildlife and conservation filmmaker/photographer, author, speaker and self-proclaimed bear nerd. His work has appeared on Nat Geo, The BBC, PBS, Nature and Smithsonian Channel. His most recent film, “The Beast of Our Time: Grizzly Bears and Climate Change” is narrated by none other than The Dude, Jeff Bridges. The film recently won Best Environmental Film Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. His upcoming book, Through the Wilderness: My Journey of Redemption and Healing in the American Wild (St. Martin’s Press, 2023), is based on the loss of his daughter, Marley.
Doug Peacock is the author of Grizzly Years, ¡Baja!, Walking It Off: A Veteran’s Chronicle of War and Wilderness, and co-author of The Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears. A Vietnam veteran and former Green Beret medic, Doug has published widely on wilderness issues ranging from grizzly bears to buffalo, from the Sonoran desert to the fjords of British Columbia, from the tigers of Siberia to the blue sheep of Nepal. A friend of the late author Edward Abbey, Doug was the model for Abbey’s infamous character, George Washington Hayduke. Doug received a 2022 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his most recent book, Was It Worth It: A Wilderness Warrior’s Long Trail Home. He was named a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2011 Lannan Fellow for his work In the Shadow of the Sabertooth: Global Warming, the Origins of the First Americans and the Terrible Beasts of the Pleistocene, for which he received a High Plains Book Award. He was the co-founder of Round River Conservation Studies and Save the Yellowstone Grizzly.
CMarie Fuhrman is the author of Camped Beneath the Dam: Poems (Floodgate 2020) and co-editor of Native Voices: Indigenous Poetry, Craft, and Conversations (Tupelo 2019). She has forthcoming or published poetry and nonfiction in multiple journals including Emergence Magazine, Platform Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Cutthroat a Journal of the Arts, Whitefish Review, Poetry Northwest, as well as several anthologies. CMarie is a regular columnist for the Inlander, translations editor for Broadsided Press, and nonfiction editor for High Desert Journal and Upstreet. She is the Director of Poetry and is on the Nature Writing faculty at Western Colorado University. She is the 2021-2023 Idaho Writer in Residence, and resides in the mountains of west-central Idaho.
Workshop staffer Marc Beaudin is a former Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation artist-in-residence, a poet, theatre artist and co-owner of Elk River Books in Livingston, Montana. He is the author of Life List: Poems (named a 2020 Honor Book Winner by the Montana Book Award), the hitchhiking memoir, Vagabond Song: Neo-Haibun from the Peregrine Journals, and the album From Coltrane to Coal Train: An Eco-Jazz Suite. His work has appeared in numerous journals, and has been widely anthologized in publications dedicated to environmental and social justice. A frequent performer of poetry and spoken word, Beaudin has worked and recorded with a variety of musicians at venues across the country, including Billy Conway and Dana Colley (of Morphine), Bill Payne (of Little Feat), The Northwoods Improvisers and the Big Sky Jazz Trio. Despite all available evidence, he believes the Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D is more powerful than all the guns, smokestacks and coal trains in the world.
Sarah Goettsch is a poet and photographer, grown in the old soul soil of Iowa, now flourishing in the north woods of Idaho. She traversed the fields of communications, human resources, and administration in the outdoor industry for over a decade after graduating from Kirkwood Community College and the University of Iowa. Currently, she gathers oral histories for a local museum, co-hosts a monthly DeathWrites gathering, and teaches at the local library. Her poems can be found at The Cabin, The Poets Corner, and on her sister’s fridge.
As a journalist, workshop staffer Andrea Peacock has covered Montana politics and Western environmental news for alternative newsweeklies across the West, as well as Mother Jones, Amicus Journal, Counterpunch and High Country News. A former editor of the Missoula Independent, she received an Alicia Patterson Fellowship for her work on a project about the ways oil and gas development affects communities in the West. She is the author of Libby, Montana: Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of an American Corporation (finalist for the Mountains & Plains Bookseller Reading the West 2004 award in nonfiction) and the co-author of The Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears (winner of Foreword Magazine’s 2006 Gold Award for Nature Book of the Year), with her husband Doug. She is the co-owner of Elk River Books in Livingston, Monana, and treasurer/co-founder of Elk River Arts & Lectures.