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Q & A with Leanna James Blackwell

Leanna James Blackwell is director of the Bay Path University MFA in Creative Nonfiction and assistant professor of creative writing. She is also the editorial director of Multiplicity, the literary magazine of the MFA. 

A frequent contributor to literary and feminist journals and a Pushcart Prize nominee, Leanna’s essays have appeared in Creative Nonfiction’s True Story, Full Grown People, Literary Mama, five80split: A Journal of Arts and Letters, Hidden Manna: The Journal of Faith and Story, and in The Best of Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers. 

Leanna has also written for Mount Holyoke and Amherst magazines. Her work has appeared in the best-selling literary anthologies, A Ghost at Heart’s Edge: Stories and Poems of Adoption, and in Toddler, winner of an Independent Publishers Award (Seal Press). She was a Fiction Fellow at the Vermont Studio Center and a participating writer at the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Squaw Valley Conference for Writers, and the Bay Area Writers’ Project. Currently, Leanna is at work on an autobiographical novel, The Sinners of Santa Ava, about a working-class Catholic family. 

Leanna is an active playwright and a member of the Northampton Playwrights Lab. Her most recent play, New Soul, premiered during the 2018 Play by Play Festival in Northampton, funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Other plays include Grimm Women, a feminist reimagining of traditional fairy tales; Curtain Call, performed at Play by Play 2015 and at the Berkshire Theatre Group; and The Wendy Chronicles, on the life and work of Pulitzer Prize-winner Wendy Wasserstein, commissioned by Mount Holyoke College. 

Leanna graduated from the MFA program in creative writing at Mills College in California, and is the former artistic director and playwright-in-residence of TKO Theatre and the Inner Stage in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the co-founder and past director of The Place for Writers at Mills College in Oakland, California. A 20-year practitioner of meditation and mindfulness and a social justice advocate, Leanna is known for a teaching style that helps writers tap into their deepest creative potential. 

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Podcast: Healing Through Narrative MedicineVulnerability in action! Join Dr. Kristina Hallett and Kristin Sunanta Walker (Mental Health News Radio) with guest Leanna James Blackwell on the fears and self-sabotage (women especially) can use to silence their voices. We get enough of this from the world so let's NOT do this to each other. Listen now