Biography

Photo by Matt Rigney
Photo by Matt Rigney

Holly Wren Spaulding

Born a poet, and reared on good books and wild nature, I grew up among a community of socially engaged artists who showed me the value of imagination, innovation and collaboration.

These days I bring ideas, conversations and creative practices to people and small groups interested in finding and making meaning. I help my students, clients and collaborators to tell their stories.

I also cultivate structures and relationships where a spirit of mindfulness and solidarity supports our collective, creative practice as writers, and as human beings. I strive to pass along strategies that enable us all to thrive amidst the many social, technological and existential pressures of our time and I’m committed to defending a space for the radical imagination in the midst of 21st century life.

Background: I taught creative writing at the college level for many years and continue to support writers  through Poetry Forge (Massachusetts) and Poetry Boot Camp (Michigan), where I offer intensive craft workshops, retreats, and a manuscript incubator called ‘A Body of Work.’. I’m the founder of LIFE/form, a personal advice consultancy and Co-director of STORYhouse, a small, nimble communications firm specializing in narrative.

I’ve conducted trainings in consensus decision-making and direct action, built independent media infrastructures for print, radio, and web, and written for The Nation, The Ecologist, New Internationalist and other publications.

For five years I worked as part of a small team of filmmakers to produce the award-winning documentary, Flow  (Dir. Irena Salina, 2008), about the global water crisis and how ordinary citizens are defending our water commons from corporate take-ver. My work appears in the book We Are Everywhere (2006), from Verso Press. My collection of poems, The Grass Impossibly (2008) was awarded publication by Michigan Writers Cooperative Press.

I am a former director of the Leelanau Young Writers Program at Leelanau School, former member of the Creative Writing Faculty at Northwestern Michigan College, and co-founder of the Live Poets Society. Until 2012, I served on the board of Michigan Writers, Inc. and was Senior Editor at Dunes Review. 

 

Education: I studied creative writing and book-publishing and editing at the University of Michigan, Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland) and Interlochen Arts Academy. My articles, essays and poems have appeared widely, most recently Michigan Quarterly Review, Witness, Reed Magazine, Scintilla, Dunes Review and Wake.

I often collaborate with other artists and recently performed in the nation’s first civic production of Martha Graham’s dance drama, American Document (Dir. Gretchen Eichberger), as well as in LORE, a multimedia exhibition and installation featuring poetry, film, dance, and music by Michigan women artists. I performed as a voice in Chaotic Harmony (Directed by Gretchen Eichberger and Anne-Marie Oomen), a dance-poem about the life and environmental art of Gwen Frostic, set to text adapted by Anne-Marie Oomen, with music by the indy band Breathe Owl Breathe.
Accomplishments: As co-founder and media spokesperson for Sweetwater Alliance, a Michigan coalition dedicated to the protection of essential freshwater resources, I helped spearhead statewide support for a precedent-setting legal case against a multi-billion-dollar global corporation, and expanded the organization to six chapters with thousands of supporters. I researched, synthesized and disseminated information on the ecological impacts of water diversions and traveled to international summits and conferences in more than seven countries, where I presented on grassroots organizing strategies. I also collaborated with diverse constituents to educate the public on the threats of water privatization using everything from independent media, to street theater, to popular education through skill-shares and workshops.
I enjoy teaching for other organizations, and often travel to do so. Look for my workshops and classes through Glen Arbor Art Association, The Old Art Building (Leland, MI), The Oliver Art Center (Frankfort, MI) and White Square Fine Art & Books (Easthampton, MA).

Selected Awards and Recognition:

* Faculty Excellence Award, Northwestern Michigan College
*5 Avery Hopwood Awards, University of Michigan
*2 Pushcart Nominations
*’Best of the Web’ nomination
*Shaman Drum Poetry Prize
*Environmental Journalist of the Year Award, NMEAC
*The CuChulainn to Kavanaugh Award for Poetry (Northern Ireland)
*Rotary International Fellowship to Ireland
*Congress-Bundestag Scholarship to Germany
*Residencies and Fellowships to Blue Mountain Center, Mesa Refuge, The Jean Noble Parsons Center for the Study of Art & Science and The Hill House (I.S.L.A.N.D.)

 

I am available for manuscript evaluations, editing, readings, workshops and one on one poetry apprenticeships. Write to me here.