Elyse Marsh

  • Education:
    • M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 2004
    • B.A., English, Smith College, Northampton, MA 1998

    I always knew that my love of writing was going to get me in trouble. It did--sent me to college 2000 miles from my Spokane, WA home to Smith College in Massachusetts, where I could study literature with East Coast professors and write about things I hadn’t seen before, like a red-orange-yellow-green-brown autumn, or a subway. Later, my writing brought me to graduate school at the University of Iowa: I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to live in a town of writers (Iowa City), or to write poems about wide porches and cross-country trains. Halfway through my master's thesis at Iowa, it occurred to me that I didn't always have to choose the hardest or weirdest things--traveling to unfamiliar places (trouble!), living far from family (trouble!), training for a ½ marathon (trouble!), attending a polka (wouldn't recommend this!)...But then I remembered: the biggest risks we take in life ultimately reward us with the best writing material—and what writer isn't addicted to that? I went back to my computer, finished my thesis, and graduated with an MFA in nonfiction writing. My writing continues to take me on adventures. Here's what I write about today:

    • Spending a year in Scotland and swimming in the North Sea.
    • Traveling to small towns and interviewing farmers for "Wheat Life" magazine as the Research Program Coordinator of the Washington Wheat Commission.
    • Working at an AmeriCorp Volunteer at a Seattle-based literacy center.
    • Leading hikes at Glacier National Park, giving caving tours at Wind Cave National Park, and demonstrating hand-weaving and open hearth cooking on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway as an interpretive park ranger.
    • Teaching writing for the University of Iowa, Virginia's Germanna Community College, and John’s Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth--and enjoying the unique writing voices of my students of different ages in different parts of the country.
    • Moving across the country (one last time) to work here at Red Rocks Community College. Meeting my first Colorado students.
    • Building confidence in expressing one’s self through writing.
    • Creating a student-centered classroom and helping students develop the skills needed to participate in such a classroom.
    • Taking delight in writing mid-draft and organizing curriculum and grading policies around processes, not just final products.
    • Encouraging a sense of class community--I believe writing is a social, not just a private, act.
    • Creating opportunities to share writing beyond the classroom.
    • Sharing my passion for writing, and for all the places it can take us.