Office Hours:
T/TH 3:00 PM-4:15 PM
W 11:00 AM-12:00 PM

Courses Spring 2019:
ENG 391: Introduction to Creative Writing - Nonfiction
ENG 496: Advanced Creative Writing

Specialization: Creative Nonfiction Writing, Food Writing, Food Ethics, Travel Writing, African American Literature


MFA, Nonfiction Writing Program, University of Iowa, 2004

MA, Humanities, University of Chicago, 2001

BA, English and Art History, James Madison University, 1996

Nonfiction Publications: 

"Excision," Entropy. Web. January 2019.

Letter to a Stranger: Benin,” Off Assignment. Web. 30 April 2016.

“Family,” Contrapasso, November 2015.

“Fortress of Confection: Lessons from my Yankee Grandmother,” What’s Cooking, Mom? Narratives about Food and Family, Demeter Press, 2015.

"Oranges," Bellevue Literary Review, Fall 2014.

"Come and Eat," Gastronomica, Summer 2013.

"Possible Us,” The Wilson Quarterly, 2012Web. 4 September 2012.

"Feeding the Future,” The Wilson Quarterly, 2012. Web. 27 April 2012.

“Stop,” North American Review, Summer 2010.

“Doucement,” Barnstorm, Spring 2007.

“Obedience,” The Missouri Review, Spring 2006. 

“Out of Obscurity: A Peace Corps Volunteer’s Journey in Benin,” Montpelier. Winter 2002.

“Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland: Revision in a Nationalist Tradition,” James Madison University Undergraduate Research, 1996.


An unforgettable journey: Professor volunteered in West African village for two years” by Julia Nelson for The Breeze. Web. 26 January 2016.

Poets, Photographers, and Poet-Photographers (Part Two): Erica Cavanagh” by Karen Risch-Mott for The Fight and the Fiddle. Web. 17 March 2015.

“Peace Corps Chronicles: JMU Alumnae and Staff Give Insight into Their Lives as Past Peace Corps Volunteers,” Curio Magazine. 2011.
"Story Corps: The Peace Corps Experience.” Interview aired on Wisconsin Public Radio. November 7-11, 2011.

"On Bringing the King Corn Guys to the Valley,” WMRA, 2010. Web. 13 September 2010."


“I Only Know That I Must Make It,” College English Association Annual Conference, March 2016

"Oranges," College English Association Annual Conference, March 2014.

"In the Garden According to Earth," College English Association Annual Conference, April 2013. 

"Come and Eat,” College English Association Annual Conference, March 2012.

“A Star to Follow,” Peace Corps and Africa Conference, University of Wisconsin–Madison, March 2011.

“Of Nude Photographs; Or, How I Got Snowshoes,” College English Association Annual Conference, March 2010.

“The Memory Between Us,” Women’s Studies Research Group, James Madison University, March 2008.

“Will the Scaffolding Hold? Building the Nonfiction Book Out of Disparate Pieces,” NonfictioNOW Conference, University of Iowa, 2007.



“What’s for Dinner in Africa.”  Review of Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine by James C. McCann.  The Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2010.

“The Country They Lost.” Review of When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa by Peter Godwin and Rainbow’s End: A Memoir of Childhood, War and an African Farm by Lauren St John.   The Iowa Review, Winter 2007/2008.


Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow, Millay Colony, 2016

Millay Colony for the Arts, a 1-month artist residency, Austerlitz, NY, June 2016

Feminist Scholarship, Women’s and Gender Studies, James Madison University, 2015
Professional Development Grant, Madison Caucus for Gender Equality, James Madison University, 2013

Educational Leave, James Madison University, 2013-14 

Madison Caucus for Gender Equality Grant, 2013 

Innovative Diversity Efforts Award, James Madison University, 2008 

Nominee, Pushcart Prize, 2007 

Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Literary Nonfiction, The Missouri Review, 2006

T. Anne Cleary Fellowship, travel research fellowship, University of Iowa, 2003

Stanley Foundation Fellowship, travel research fellowship, University of Iowa, 2002

Iowa Arts Fellowship, full tuition scholarship, University of Iowa, 2001–2003

Ruth Murray Prize for the essay, “Rituals of Initiation in Benin, West Africa,” Center for Gender Studies, University of Chicago, 2001 

First Place Honors Thesis in the Department of English, James Madison University, 1996

First Place Poetry Prize, James Madison University, 1995 & 1996

First Place Fiction Prize, James Madison University, 1994 & 1995

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