Jackie Craven combines a career in journalism with whimsical and often surreal writing for literary journals. Whether writing poetry, fiction, essays, or feature articles, her work is noted for wry, off-beat humor and an accessible, narrative style. She is the author of Secret Formulas & Techniques of the Masters (Brick Road Poetry Press) and Our Lives Became Unmanageable (Omnidawn), winner of the publisher’s Fabulist Fiction Award. Her publications also include books on home decor, articles on architecture and design, travel essays, and literary commentary.
Jackie graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and earned a Doctor of Arts in Writing from the University at Albany, New York. She received fellowships from the New York State Writers Institute and other workshop programs. A number of leading writers provided guidance and instruction, and she’s especially grateful to Frank Bidart, Henri Cole, Barry Goldensohn, Andrea Hollander, James Lasdun, Thomas Lux, Bernadette Mayer, Marge Piercy, Tim Seibles, and Barbara Louise Ungar. Jackie’s teaching background includes stints as a high school reading specialist, a distance learning instructor, and an English instructor for the University at Albany, Russell Sage, Schenectady County Community College, and Hudson Valley Community College.
Jackie Craven grew up in a family of magical realists. Her mother and sister were painters who filled their northern Virginia home with the scent of turpentine. Jackie’s father, a no-nonsense aviation engineer, moved away, but she was blessed with an affable stepfather who shared her love for tall tales. After college, she moved to upstate New York where she taught English, wrote travel articles, and tried to repair her run-down house. Old buildings can be irresistible, and Jackie adopted several dilapidated Victorians on her street. She left her teaching job and, with a partner and several helpers, set up a small but chaotic business restoring and renting out Victorian apartments. Poetry came late in life, after her parents and her business partner died. Jackie sold the rental properties and began to follow her literary dreams. Much of her writing draws inspiration from her mother’s art. She works at a cluttered desk in front of her mother’s painting of a juggler, a monkey, and a davenport drifting in mid-air.
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