Elise Blackwell

Color photograph of Elise Blackwell holding a copy of her book titled Grub

Elise Blackwell. Image taken Alchetron.

(1964 - )  Born in Austin, Texas, Elise Blackwell grew up in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She attended graduated from Louisiana State University where she earned a B.A. in English.  She lived briefly in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Boston, Massachusetts, before moving to California to attend the M.F.A. Creative Writing Program at UC-Irvine. In 1989 she married novelist David Bajo and moved to San Diego, where she spent eight years working as a freelance writer, editor, and translator.

In 1997 Blackwell gave birth to a daughter and moved to Northern California for a year and a half and then to Princeton, New Jersey, where she worked as a senior copywriter for Princeton University Press. From 2003–2005 Blackwell taught at Boise State University, before accepting a position in the English department at the University of South Carolina where she is currently associate professor of English and director of the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing and teaches courses in prose writing. 

Blackwell has written several books.  Her first book Hunger is narrated by a fictional scientist working at the N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry during Hitler’s siege of Leningrad when hundreds of thousands of civilians died of starvation. Charged with protecting and maintaining the institute’s collection of rare seeds, tubers, and fruit, the narrator staves off starvation by secretly eating the carefully preserved samples. In 2007 Blackwell’s second novel Grub was published, which follows the intertwining struggles of group of writers as they establish and maintain literary careers in contemporary New York City. 

In addition to her other published novels, Blackwell writes regularly for The Chronicle of Higher Education, describing professional and academic trends in the field of creative writing and analyzing their effects on writers and their work.