I am a fiction writer and prose poet who has worked as a broadcast journalist. I have recently completed a new novel, Ring of Lions, a work that attained semi-finalist rank in an international fiction competition when it was named to the Bath Novel Award 2022 Long List.
I am literary executor and editor of the memoir written by my husband, Louis Branca. Lou died just after completing Little Boy Blue–Case Number Eleven. As an orphaned toddler, Lou Branca was part of a groundbreaking intelligence study, one that took on the academic community and its scientific beliefs about IQ.
Along with Sumerologist Deb Jones and Depth Psychologist Sharon Mijares, I am currently working on a 3-Act interpretation of the journey of the ancient deity Inanna to the Land of No Return. Our collaboraative essay has been accepted for publication by Coreopsis Journal.
I studied Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform in my search for the earliest of women's writing, and my investigations have led me to write and lecture on similarities I found in ancient cuneiform text and hypertext.
My published books include the novels Nin (Spinsters Ink) and Sweetgrass (finalist for a Minnesota Book Award), and a book-length prose poem Humming the Blues (Calyx Books). Humming the Blues is a jazz interpretation of the Sumerian cuneiform signs in Enheduanna's Song to Inanna (Ancient Iraq, 2350 BCE).
My kinetic interpretation of Enheduanna's Nin-Me-Sar-Ra, "Mesopotamian Blues," was included in Five Minutes of Fame, Minnesota Artists.Org, a site developed by the McKnight Foundation and the Walker Art Center's New Media Initiatives group. I was an invited speaker during the post museum session of the conference: Inanna -- Live at the British Museum, London 2007, and contributed the "Enheduanna," section in Feminist Writings from Ancient Times to the Modern World, ABC-CLIO, 2011.
A recipient of The Loft Literary Center Minnesota Writers' Career Initiative Grant, my poetry has appeared in the anthologies What Light, Minnesota Artists.Org., 2007; Poetry City USA, Volume I, 2010; Poetry City USA, Volume II, 2012, and the Tupelo Press Poetry Project.
I am a Professor Emerita of English at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minn., where I was lead designer, fiction mentor, and first director of the Augsburg Low-Residency MFA Program. Augsburg awarded me the Distinguished Teaching and Learning Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising. In 2011, I was inducted into the St. Catherine University Phi Beta Kappa chapter as an alumna member.
I hold an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a PhD in writing with a concentration in ancient women's writing from The Union Institute.
I am a Reiki Master Teacher (RMT) and a writer who has long been interested in the flow of energy as a practice directed toward my own healing and also toward the ignition of dynamic sparks that initiate my own creative work. During my years as a college professor of English, I have found myself wondering about the mystical, meditative, and spiritual practices that must be at the core of the creative acts performed on a daily basis by all writers and artists. And at the same time, I have realized that the training of writers and artists is often weighted down by requirements for production rather than uplifted by what Mihaly Cskiszentmihalyi calls "the wonder of mystery about to reveal itself."
This realization inspired me to include meditative practices in my creative writing classes. And as I began my work as a Reiki practitioner, I could not help but notice that energy practice offers benefits to all of us–creative dreamers and thinkers of every kind–as we compose our daily lives.
During a Zen writing retreat I took with writer Natalie Goldberg, she emphasized the importance of a writer naming her teachers–both to honor the teacher and to reveal the writer's transformational path. With that custom in mind, I list the teachers whom I have followed on my path through energy practice. They include: Writer Natalie Goldberg, who introduced me to the Zen of Writing; Reiki Master Jill Goux, who led me through Reiki I and II and continues to remind me to dance through life; Reiki Master Ginny Mackles, who gave me another path through Reiki II and led me to my Reiki Master Teacher status; Professor and Author Gary Schwartz (The Energy Healing Experiments); Reiki Practitioner Myra Oney; Creative Visionaries Caitriona Reed and Michele Benzamin-Miki; Founder and Lead Teacher of Radiant Lotus Qigong Daisy Lee; and Sumerologist Deb Jone and depth psychologist Sharon Mijares, doctoral mentors with whom I continue to contemplate the energy of myth.