Rebecca Brown

Faculty, MFA in Creative Writing Program
Residency Site: Port Townsend WA



Rebecca Brown is the author of 12 books published in the U.S. and abroad including American Romances, The Dogs, The Terrible Girls, Gifts Of The Body, Excerpts From A Family Medical Dictionary; a play, The Toaster; libretto for dance opera The Onion Twins; performance piece, Monstrous. Her visual work has appeared in museums in the U.S. and Canada.  Brown has received awards from The Stranger, Boston Book Review, Lambda Literary Foundation, and MacDowell, among others. She’s taught in college and university settings in the U.S. and abroad for more than 30 years.


MFA in Creative Writing, University of Virginia
BA in English, George Washington University

Areas of Expertise

Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Cross-Genre, Hybrid, Poetry

Personal Statement

In 2009, City Lights published my twelfth book, American Romances, a collection of gonzo essays that put Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys) and Hawthorne on the same page and reveals the secret sex life of H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. My previous books with City Lights include The Last Time I Saw You (2005) and The End of Youth, (2003). My book Excerpts From A Family Medical Dictionary (Granta, UK and University of Wisconsin Press, USA) was published in February of 2004. I am also the author of The Gifts of the Body, The Terrible Girls, Annie Oakley’s Girl, The Haunted House, The Children’s Crusade, and What Keeps Me Here. My work has been awarded the Boston Book Review Award for fiction, The Lambda Literary Award, The Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, and a Washington State Governor’s Award and a Stranger Genius Award. It has been widely anthologized, including stories in the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. Five of my books have been translated into Japanese where they are published to much acclaim. My work has also been published in Great Britain and translated into Danish, Norwegian, German, Italian and Dutch. I have also co-edited a couple of books. These include Experimental Theology, with Robert Corbett of the Seattle Research Institute, an anthology that contains poetry, fiction, essays, academic stuff and theater about God and god-substitutes and Looking Together: Writers on Art, with Mary Jane Knecht of the Frye Art Museum was published by University of Washington press in March 2009.

In recent years I have been collaborating artists in different disciplines. I wrote the a libretto for The Onion Twins, a dance opera by Better Biscuit Dance that premiered in 2005. In 2005, my first two act play, The Toaster, premiered at the New City Theater in Seattle. My book The Terrible Girls was adapted for theater by About Face Theater in Chicago and performed there in 2001. I have also written performance texts for Launch Dance company. The Los Angeles New Short Fiction Series adapted four pieces from The End of Youth for performance in November 2003. For a number of years I did a series of irreverent public talks sponsored by the Seattle Opera that offer pop culture/feminist/literary and goofy analysis of opera. With painter Nancy Kiefer, I made a book of text and image called Woman in Ill Fitting Wig. I have read on book tours across the USA and in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Japan.

I have taught for more than 30 years in numerous settings including the University of Washington, Extension, Pacific Lutheran University, Naropa University in Colorado, prisons, senior citizens’ homes, libraries, bars, and homeless encampments. For four years I was the Creative Director of Literary Programs at Centrum, an arts center in Port Townsend, Washington. For two years I was Writer-in-Residence at the Richard Hugo House Literary Center in Seattle where I served as Senior Teacher, met community members for writing consultations, and curated an eclectic reading/performance series. I have also curated readings for The Jack Straw Foundation, Red and Black Books, and my local NPR affiliate. I have served on selection panels for the Millay Arts Colony, The King County Arts Commission, the Bumbershoot Arts Festival, and the Washington State Arts Commission where I have championed the work of both traditional and non-mainstream writing. I have been awarded residencies at the Yaddo Colony, the Hawthornden Castle Writing Retreat in Scotland, the MacDowell Colony, Centrum, The Millay Colony, and Hedgebrook Cottages for Writers. For many years my criticism, reviews, and essays appeared in the Seattle-based arts weekly The Stranger. I have lived in London and Italy and now make my home in Seattle with my spouse, our cats, and an impressive collection of rock-n-roll, classical, and weird CDs.  I also work as Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington, Bothell.


  1. American Romances
    American Romances: EssaysCity Lights2009
  2. The Haunted House
    The Haunted HouseCity Lights2007
  3. The End of Youth
    The End of YouthCity Lights2003
  4. The Dogs: A Modern Bestiary
    The Dogs: A Modern BestiaryCity Lights1998
  5. What Keeps Me Here: A Book of Stories
    What Keeps Me Here: A Book of StoriesHarpercollins1996
  6. Annie Oakley's Girl
    Annie Oakley's GirlCity Lights1993