Karen Babine (pronounced bay-byne) was born and raised in the Lakes Country of Hubbard County, Minnesota. She traded lakes and trees for prairie and grass on the Red River Valley of western Minnesota for college, then hopped I-94 west to Spokane to do a Master of Fine Arts in Nonfiction at Eastern Washington University. In 2016, she was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award from her MFA program. After seven years of teaching at Bowling Green State University, she again headed west, this time to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a Ph.D. in English. She currently is an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Her first book, Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award for creative nonfiction and was a Finalist for the Midwest Book Award and Finalist for the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award. Her second book, All the Wild Hungers, was published by Milkweed Editions in 2019, was awarded the 2020 Minnesota Book Award for creative nonfiction. Her third book, Acadie: A Family Ecology, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2022.
Her work has appeared widely, from Slag Glass City to River Teeth to Fugue, Weber: The Contemporary West, Sycamore Review, and more. "Deadwood" won the Martin O. Lewis Prize from Weber: The Contemporary West in 2007. Her work has been selected twice as a Notable in Best American Essays: "An Island Triptych" (2014) and "Orange" (2018).
She is also the founder and editor of Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, whose goal is to publish the best nonfiction scholarship and pedagogy across disciplines.
Mildly Formal Bio:
Karen Babine is the author of All the Wild Hungers (Milkweed Editions, 2019) and Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life (University of Minnesota, 2015), both winners of the Minnesota Book Award for memoir/creative nonfiction. She also edits Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. Her work has appeared in such journals as Brevity, River Teeth, North American Review, Slag Glass City, Sweet, and “An Island Triptych” was listed as a Notable in the 2014 Best American Essays. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Eastern Washington University and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. She’s currently at work on her next book, an essay collection about camping to Nova Scotia to discover her family’s Acadian roots. In her spare time, she loves to cook and hunt through thrift stores for treasures.