I first met Anne-Marie Oomen on an idyllic college campus in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The campus was a quiet spot in a small suburb of Boston, cold, as Januarys in Boston tend to be.
But Anne-Marie was warm: her smile, her hug, her willingness to sit to talk even before we really got to know each other. I’m writing this from a place of memory, of course, which means I’m curating the experience to share what I cannot forget. I’d come to learn that from Anne-Marie in workshops, the fact that memory is faulty and truth is personal and that emotional truth is what drives us to the page time and time again. While listening to her read excerpts from her own compelling memoirs, I learned that writing creative non-fiction requires both precision and permission: precision in emotional truth, permission to find—and write—it in our own unique way.
Anne-Marie is also sharp, as in whip smart, driven, determined, and persistent. She has won awards, she writes poetry and prose and plays, she has hosted a podcast. She is a teacher, a mentor, a working writer, and an active, kind participant in the literary landscape.
She’ll join Johnson County Library as faculty at our annual conference, where she will lead a workshop, teach sessions, and read from her newest memoir, the award-winning As Long As I Know You: The Mom Book.
She’ll also lead three sessions for us in September and October, all virtually. On Tuesday, Sept. 27, she’ll be in conversation with memoirist and professor Ames Hawkins; on Wednesday, Sept. 28, she’ll deliver a craft lecture centering on ekphrasis; and on Saturday, Oct. 1, she’ll lead a 2-hour workshop on ekphrasis. We hope you’ll sign up for all three events, and then join us at the conference to welcome Anne-Marie to Kansas.
-- written by Lisa Allen, adult services information specialist
Official Bio: Anne-Marie Oomen’s forthcoming book As Long as I Know You: The Mom Book won AWP’s Sue William Silverman Nonfiction Award (University of Georgia Press, September, 2022). Others titles include The Lake Michigan Mermaid (co-authored with poet, Linda Nemec Foster, Michigan Notable Book 2019), Love, Sex and 4-H, (Next Generation Indie Award for memoir); Pulling Down the Barn and House of Fields, (Michigan Notable Books)—all focused on rural culture; An American Map: Essays, and a collection of poetry, Uncoded Woman (Milkweed Editions). She edited Elemental, A Collection of Michigan Nonfiction (Michigan Notable Book), and Looking Over My Shoulder: Reflections on the Twentieth Century (A Michigan Humanities Council Project). She has written seven plays, including award-winning Northern Belles (inspired by oral histories of women farmers), and Secrets of Luuce Talk Tavern, winner of the CTAM contest. She is founding editor of Dunes Review, former president of Michigan Writers, Inc., and serves as instructor at Solstice MFA in Creative Writing at Lasell University (MA) and at Interlochen College of Creative Arts. She appears at conferences throughout the country. She and her husband, David Early, built their own home on wild acreage near Empire, Michigan, and their beloved Lake Michigan.