I grew up on small family farms in Sullivan County, Tennessee, and McDowell County, North Carolina, as the daughter of public school teachers and the granddaughter and grandniece of educators, homemakers, farmers, and furniture builders. I've had a love of books, words, family, place, nature, and the interconnectedness of life from an early age.
I am currently a Professor of English and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Carson-Newman University, where I've been teaching since 1990. My particular areas of interest are poetry, Appalachian literature, and contemporary American poetry and literature. After extensive study of piano performance as a teenager, I earned my BA in Photography from Carson-Newman College, where I was the editor of the college's student literary journal. I earned my MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where I studied under Fred Chappell and Robert Watson. I earned my PhD in English (American literature and Poetry emphasis) from Florida State University.
I am a poet and a writer of fiction. I have two published chapbooks of poetry; FROM (2010) and LOVE AND OTHER HUNGERS (2014). In 2004 I won the Tennessee Arts Commission Literary Grant for GENESIS ROAD, a novel which I have since revised and for which I am seeking a publisher. I continue to write poetry and short fiction, and I have enjoyed having my work published in a wide variety of publications and venues (see the Publication Record section of this web site). From 2013 to the present, I have been a frequent poetry guest of the recurring live radio broadcast show, "Tennessee Shines," on WDVX, in Knoxville.
I live in Jefferson City, Tennessee, with my husband, David Underwood, a visual artist and Professor of Art at Carson-Newman University. Together we have traveled extensively throughout the United States, and have also done some limited travel in Canada and Europe. We've visited more than 140 of the National Parks and Monuments in the USA, and are avid supporters of our National Park system. In the summer of 2014 my husband and I together founded a new small publishing company, Sapling Grove Press, with the goal of publishing a small number of quality books of Appalachian literature and art, and as serving as a facilitator for promoting the varied and rich positive culture of the region (visit www.saplinggrovepress.com).