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Courtney Kersten is an essayist, educator, and author of Daughter in Retrograde (University of Wisconsin Press 2018). Daughter in Retrograde was a finalist for the 2018 Sarton Women’s Book Award. Courtney’s essays can be seen or are forthcoming from Prairie Schooner, River Teeth, Brevity, The Normal School, Hotel Amerika, DIAGRAM, The Sonora Review, Black Warrior Review, The Master’s Review, and elsewhere. Her essays have been awarded the Bellingham Review’s 2018 Annie Dillard Award in Nonfiction and the Southern Indiana Review‘s 2019 Mary C. Mohr Award in Nonfiction. 

Courtney earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Idaho where she was awarded a Grace/Nixon Fellowship and the Writing in the Wild Fellowship. Her work has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, an AWP Intro Award, and she was the 2016 Writer-In-Residence at the Great Basin Writer’s Residency in Baker, Nevada. Courtney’s writing and research have also been awarded a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Fellowship to Riga, Latvia, where she studied Baltic performing arts and literature. 

Her essay “Women of the Sky” was selected by Jenny Boully as the winner of Bellingham Review‘s 2018 Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction. Of her work, Boully said, Courtney “thoughtfully experiments with and sometimes even daringly conflates point-of-view, personification, and embodiment, elements . . . seldom challenged in nonfiction writing . . . The essayist serves as a stellar and bright monument at which vectors of the historical . . . and personal meet and burst into new light.” Boully continued, “Always understated yet boldly intense, this essay inhabits various spaces and personas, carving out the textures of both the outer and inner worlds.”

Her essay “The Ergonomics of Loss” was selected by Sarah Perry as the winner of the Southern Indiana Review’s 2019 Mary C. Mohr Award in Nonfiction. Of her essay, Perry said, “Displacement and emotional uncertainty haunt the essay, but the writing itself is assured and beautiful, both lyrical and precise. The author moves confidently in time and among subjects, illuminating a personal story with touches of nature writing, astrology, and even a manual on occupational safety, showing how loss is found in every corner of our experience, a weight both burden and ballast.”

Courtney is a doctoral candidate in Literature with an emphasis in Creative/Critical Writing and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she specializes in creative nonfiction, feminist theory, American Indian literature, animal studies, and post-humanism. Her teaching has garnered a 2018 Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning Graduate Pedagogy Fellowship and in 2019-2020, she will be a Public Humanities Graduate Student Instructor. She is currently at work on a biography about the late superstar astrologer of the 1970s: Linda Goodman.

Photo by Kat Lewis.