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I hold a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University, where my studies were supported by a Mellon Fellowship and a Jacob Davits Fellowship, and where I won the Bunner Prize for Best American Essay. I also hold a B.A. from Harvard where I graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. I’m a certified Kundalini yoga teacher and an Order of Interbeing aspirant in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Tradition.
I'm the author of two books of poetry, The High Shelf, published in the fall of 2019 with The Word Works Press, and I Say the Sky, forthcoming from University Press of Kentucky.
My poetry and creative nonfiction have been widely published in more than eighty national publications including The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Spirituality & Health, Lion’s Roar, Truthout, Slate.com, American Scholar, Grist.org, Literary Imagination, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Harvard Review, Yes! Magazine, Yale Review, Southwest Review, Boston Globe Magazine, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Women’s Studies Quarterly, LA Review of Books, Volt, Columbia: A Journal, elephant journal, Appalachia, and Tiny Buddha. My writing has won numerous awards, including a PEN/NE Discovery Award in Poetry, and my essay “Listening to My Body” appears in the anthology The Anatomy of Silence: Twenty-Six Stories About All the Sh** That Gets in the Way of Speaking About Sexual Violence.
I’ve been a professor at MIT, Lesley, and Stonehill College, where I was a visiting writer, and am currently the writer-in-residence at Northeastern's Center For Spirituality, Dialogue and Service. I'm also a Research Scholar at the Ronin Institute and I was a founding editor at the spirituality and social justice magazine, Anchor.
As the founder of Align Your Story, I’ve worked with thousands of students as a writing and development coach. My unique approach to teaching writing and as a development coach brings together the best of craft and process. I offer poetry classes and memoir classes in Cambridge, MA, and teach mindful writing to students around the world in my online writing courses, Align Your Story and Write From Your Center. I’ve also given popular workshops and talks on such topics as creative writing, integrating the mind and body, claiming our full stories, healing and re-imagining trauma, and women’s power at The Copper Beech Institute, Grub Street, The Muse and the Marketplace, The Mass Poetry Festival, Om Namo Yoga Center, The Harvard Divinity School, Boston College and many other places.
I live in Cambridge, MA with my husband, Eric Colburn, and our two children.
My own path as a writer, teacher, and writing and development coach is an untraditional one and I help create pathways for authentic becoming.
I’ve always been a seeker, passionate about finding meaning. I grew up in New York City with one younger sister in a house full of books to parents who both worked in publishing. I was an avid reader and a somewhat serious ballet dancer.
I went to Harvard where I majored in English, and after a year in Paris with my boyfriend (now husband), I went to graduate school to study English Literature at Columbia University.
Much as I enjoyed graduate school, I was eager to live more fully, and had my first child, Gabriel, when I was 27. I wanted to move into my heart more, and that baby definitely moved me into my heart: being a mom rocked my world and opened me up.
No longer content primarily to study other people’s literature, I wanted to explore more deeply my own writing as a woman and mother, and I moved to Cambridge, where I studied poetry with the Harvard Professor of Poetry, Jorie Graham.
Five days after I moved from New York to Cambridge was 9/11/01. My heart—and eyes—opened even more. I felt a calling to work for peace and to stop the proliferation of violence. I helped organize peace rallies and became a volunteer counselor with the GI Rights Hotline, which provides free counsel to members of the military, many of whom were looking for ways out of the military and/or dealing with PTSD.
At the same time, I began to publish my poems widely. After having my second child, Simone, four years after Gabriel was born, I began to write prose focusing on issues of transition, motherhood, peace and environmental justice.
The questions I was writing about—questions of narrative shifts and heart-and earth- centered meaning—opened me to explore my own life in a new way, and I began for the first time to also unravel the meanings of the physical illness and imbalances that had bothered me since my early 20s and that conventional medicine had not been able to fully explain or resolve.
This line of personal inquiry and my own writing itself, which forced me to look inward more and more deeply, led to a direct confrontation with my own early childhood trauma.
This confrontation turned my life upside down for several years as I went into very deep healing work to overcome post traumatic stress and be the mother and woman I wanted to be. But as challenging as that work was, it helped me clarify my own commitment to healing on every level, my commitment to a spiritual path, and my commitment to helping create a more peaceful world in which all people are able to come into their authentic and aligned voice and vision.
I became an aspirant in the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing and a certified Kundalini Yoga Instructor, and I studied numerous forms of spirituality and holistic health. In my studies and practices, I benefited from the discipline and wisdom of particular traditions while also seeing the ways in which the different traditions all point in the same direction of peace, compassion, healing, wonder and power.
The things that knock us off our own center, whether in our childhood or in our jobs or relationships or in public events—the shadow side of our lives—are also opportunities for growth, understanding, compassion and the impetus to our greatest and deepest purpose in the world. I believe we have the potential to come into much greater wellbeing, if we give ourselves the tools and use our own understanding of stories to help us.
In my writing, I explore questions of voice, personal and social trauma and healing, childhood, motherhood, and our place in a world altered by climate injustice. I write primarily poetry and personal essays and memoir, and believe in the power of art as a transformative practice and a sacred space for the intimacy of often unnamed truths.
As a teacher, it is my honor and calling to help people and organizations on their own path for positive change.
I believe that our personal stories have meaning through their unique personal details, but ultimately are larger than the individual; it is through our uniqueness that we connect most with others and through our getting clear on our stories and selves that we are able to manifest the change we want to see in the world.
In this period of political and environmental dangers and of rapid transitions, nothing is more important than coming into our centers and developing our voices and our visions for a more equitable, peaceful, sustainable world.
I’m passionate about helping my students and clients uncover their full stories and unlocking the power of their creative voice. I work with individuals and with groups to use mindfulness and creativity to help facilitate optimal flourishing and a vision of the self in society.
I hope you'll explore my free resources, my upcoming classes, and reach out to me with any questions here.