PERSONAL: Married. Education: California State University, B.A.; University of South Carolina, M.A. T., Ph.D.
CAREER: Poet and educator. Worked variously as a church organist, proofreader, actress, secretary, and shop attendant. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Poetry-in-the-Schools Program, NC; University of North Carolina, former director of writing project and affiliated programs. Teacher and workshop leader at Davidson College, Kenyon College, University of South Carolina, and Wofford College.
AWARDS, HONORS: North Carolina Governor's Award of Excellence in Education, 1988; North Carlina Writers fellowship in poetry, 1989, and creative nonfiction, 1995; PEN Syndicated fiction award, 1991;Pushcart Prize in Fiction; Bread Loaf fiction scholarship, 1993; Wood Prize, Poetry magazine, 1993-94; MacDowell Colony residency, 1994; Carter Prize for Essay from Shenandoah, 1997.
Mother Tongue: Poems, University of Central Florida Press (Orlando, F), 1987.
Mrs. Houdini: Poems, University of Central Florida Press (Orlando, FL), 1989.
One Word Deep: Lectures and Readings, Ashland Poetry Press, 1993.
The Intersection of X and Y: Poems, Copper Beech Press (Providence, RI), 1996.
Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 1999.
Naked As Eve: Poems, Copper Beech Press (Providence, RI), 2000.
Write Your Heart Out: Exploring and Expressing WhatMatters to You, Walking Stick Press (Cincinnati, OH), 2001.
The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings (essays), University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2002.
The Unspeakable (poems), Copper Beech Press (Providence, RI), 2004.
Contributor to poetry anthologies, including A More Perfect Union: Poems and Stories about the Modern Wedding, 1998; And What Rough Beast: Poems at the End of the Century, Ashland Poetry Press, 1999; Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry, Carolina Academic Press, 1999; Bearing Life: Women's Writing on Childlessness, Feminist Press, 2000; and Sorrow's Company: Writers on Grief and Loss, Beacon Press, 2000; contributor of poetry, essays, and short fiction to periodicals, including Boulevard, Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, Kenyon Review, Malahat Review, Nimrod, North Carolina Literary Review, Seventeen, Texas Review, and Southern Review.
SIDELIGHTS: Poet, essayist, and educator Rebecca McClanahan is the author of several poetry collections and the essay collection The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings, as well as of the instructional books Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More and Write Your Heart Out: Exploring and Expressing What Matters to You, the latter published in 2001. In addition to presenting a number of exercises designed for the serious beginning writer, McClanahan also inspires readers of Write Your Heart Out through her discussion of writing as a means of working through personal issues and uncertainties, and also discusses ways to transform actual experiences into fiction. In Word Painting, she concentrates on the craft rather than the inspiration, including examples from writers ranging from Aristotle to Gustave Flaubert to Toni Morrison that illustrate techniques for creating fresh imagery with words. In a Library Journal review of Write Your Heart Out, Lisa J. Cihlar praised the book as "well written and browsable," adding that McClanahan's "warm and friendly tone is sure to inspire many."
In an online interview with Jenna Glatzer for Absolute Write, McClanahan noted that, although she has had many jobs in her life, writing has been a constant since childhood. "I've always used whatever mode the writing demands," she explained: "poetry, fiction, essay, or song lyric. Each genre has its own rhythm and I try to listen for the natural beat. Writing does not come easily to me, but I've written because of an inner driving force that leaves me little choice in the matter."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, October 1, 2001, Lisa J. Cihlar, review of Write Your Heart Out: Exploring and Expressing What Matters to You, p. 114.
Absolute Write,http://www.absolutewrite.com/ (October 7, 2003), Jenna Glatzer, interview with McClanahan.
FreelanceWriting.Com,http://www.freelancewriting.com/ (April 22, 2004), interview with McClanahan.