Mary Odden

Alaska Literary Award, 2020

Mary Odden grew up in eastern Oregon. She attended the College of Idaho and worked as a fire lookout and dispatcher. She followed wildfires north to spend most of the last forty years in Alaska: telling smokejumpers where to go, finding true love, digging gardens, playing dance music, listening to stories and exploring remarkable landscapes. She studied writing at the University of Montana and at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she earned an MFA in 1995. She worked as a writing teacher and village teen counselor in southwest Alaska and, for a few busy years, published and edited a small community newspaper — the Copper River Record – distributed in Alaska’s Copper River Valley. Currently, she teaches writing classes and assists local writers with various book projects of memoir and biography, fiction and adventure stories. Her own recent work includes essays and a novel about rural Alaska, in progress.

Odden’s essays and articles have appeared in venues including the Georgia Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Alaska Magazine (November 2020). Her book of memoir/essays, Mostly Water: Reflections Rural and North, was published in June 2020 by Boreal Books/Red Hen Press. Odden received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award in 2015. She lives in Nelchina, Alaska.