Sharman Apt Russell, MFA

Affiliate Faculty, Creative Nonfiction
MFA in Creative Writing
(310) 578-1080

BS in Conservation and Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley
MFA in Creative Writing, University at Montana, Missoula

Sharman Apt Russell (creative nonfiction) received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Montana and her BS from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a humanities professor at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico. She has recently been published in OnEarth Magazine, Orion Magazine, and High Country News. Her most recent creative nonfiction is Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist (Basic Books, 2008), a New Mexico Book Award finalist and one of Booklist’s top ten books in religion. Her Hunger: An Unnatural History (Basic Books, 2005) was written with the help of a Rockefeller Fellowship in Bellagio, Italy and her An Obsession with Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect (Perseus Books, 2003) was a pick of independent booksellers in their Summer Book Sense.

Her work has been translated into Chinese, Korean, Russian, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and German. Other books include Anatomy of a Rose: The Secret Life of Flowers (Perseus Books, 2001); the novel The Last Matriarch (UNM Press, 2000); When the Land Was Young: Reflections on American Archeology (reprinted University of Nebraska Press, 2001); Kill The Cowboy: A Battle of Mythology In The New West (reprinted University of Nebraska Press, 2001); Songs of the Fluteplayer: Seasons of Life In the Southwest (reprinted University of Nebraska Press, 2002); and a children’s fantasy, The Humpbacked Fluteplayer (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1994).

She has twice served as the PEN West judge for best books in children’s literature. Her essays have been published in many magazines, journals, and anthologies, among them Face to Face: Women Writers on Faith, Mysticism, and Awakening; Nature Writing; Sisters of the Earth; At Home on the Earth: Two Centuries of U.S. Women’s Nature Writing; The Sweet Breathing of Plants; and Writing Home: Award-Winning Literature from the New West. Sharman has also been awarded a Writers at Work Fellowship in Nonfiction, a Henry Joseph Jackson Award in Nonfiction, a Pushcart Prize, and a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award.

2008, New Mexico Book Finalist, Standing in the Light
2007, 2003 PEN West Judge for Children’s Literature
2003 Independent Bookseller Recommendations, Book Sense 76 for An Obsession with Butterflies
2002 Rockefeller Foundation Residency, Bellagio, Italy
2001, 2009 WNMU Research Award in Excellence
1992 Mountain and Plains Booksellers Award for Songs of the Fluteplayer
1992 New Mexico Presswomen’s Zia Award for Songs of the Fluteplayer
1990 Pushcart Prize, essay “Illegal Aliens” published in Pushcart Prize Anthology XV
1989, Writers at Work Fellowship Winner in Nonfiction, Park City, Utah
1989, Henry Joseph Jackson Award in Nonfiction, San Francisco, CA

Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist (Basic Books, 2008)
Hunger: An Unnatural History (Basic Books, 2005)—also translated into Fame: una storia innaturale (Codice edizioni, 2006)
An Obsession with Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect (Perseus Books, 2003)—also translated into Russian and Chinese
Anatomy of a Rose: Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers (Perseus Books, March, 2001)—also translated into Chinese, Korean, Swedish, German, and Spanish
The Last Matriarch (University of New Mexico Press, 2000)
When the Land was Young: Reflections on American Archaeology (Addison-Wesley, 1996, re-issued by University of Nebraska Press, 2001)
The Humpbacked Fluteplayer (children’s fantasy for ages 10-14, Knopf Publishing Company, 1994)
Kill the Cowboy: A Battle of Mythology in the New West (Addison-Wesley, 1993, re-issued by University of Nebraska Press, 2001)
Songs of the Fluteplayer: Seasons of Life in the Southwest (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1991, reissued by University of Nebraska Press, 2002)
Frederick Douglas (high school biography, Chelsea House Publishers, 1987)
Built to Last: An Architectural History of Silver City, NM (co-authored with Susan Berry and published by the New Mexico Historical Society, 1986)

  • American Nature Writing in the Twenty-first Century
  • Magic as Metaphor: Writing Children’s Literature
  • Writing as Archaeology
  • Living in Dreamtime: Writing the Book Proposal
  • Writing as the Other
  • Writing as a Pantheist
  • Writing down the World: Research-based Prose

My teaching philosophy is simple: my goal is to increase a student’s authority as a writer. I am here to encourage and support that authority. I can help students better revise their work. I can teach students how to talk about writing with other writers. I can help them feel more centered in who they are as writers and why they write. I can serve as an editor and mentor. I can model a writer’s life. As well as teaching at WNMU and Antioch University, for the last fifteen years I have been a visiting writer at universities and colleges across the country. My areas of particular interest are creative nonfiction (personal essay and research-based prose), children’s literature, nature writing, science writing, environmental issues and social justice.