Anita Skeen

Professor Emerita

C230F Snyder Hall


Image shows Anita Skeen



MFA in Creative Writing, Bowling Green State University
MA in English Literature, Bowling Green State University



Anita Skeen is a professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) at Michigan State University, where she is the arts coordinator and director of the RCAH Center for Poetry
Anita began her teaching career at Bowling Green State University, where she received an MA in English literature in 1970 and an MFA in creative writing in 1971. She later taught in the MFA program at Wichita State University where she received the Regents Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1987, as a member of the board of directors of the Kansas Humanities Council, she helped create "Talking about Literature in Kansas Libraries, “a reading and discussion program that continues today.

She joined the Michigan State University Department of English in 1990. In 1997 she began serving as the director of the Residential Option in Arts and Letters Program (ROIAL), a living and learning program for selected freshmen and sophomores in the College of Arts and Letters. ROIAL increased her interest in and commitment to undergraduate education and to building links between ROIAL students and other units on campus as well as with the East Lansing community. Since 2005 she has taught the annual writing workshop throughout the month of September that accompanies the One Book, One Community yearly book selection.  Anita has also taught in MSU Study Abroad programs in England and Ireland.

For a number of summers when she was in college and afterward, Anita served as a city recreation director for low-income housing projects in Charleston, West Virginia, and as a counselor at summer camps in Pennsylvania and New York. She has taught K-12 students while working with the Kansas Arts Commission’s Artist in the Schools Program, in college classrooms across the country as a visiting writer and writer-in-residence, in senior citizens centers and libraries, and at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. She has been the director of the Creative Arts Program at Ghost Ranch for 32 years and director of the Fall Writing Festival for 16 years. Most recently, in October 2011 she was writer-in-residence at the Aurora Fall Writers Retreat in Aurora, West Virginia; in January 2012 she served as writer-in-residence at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC.
She is the author of six volumes of poetry: Each Hand A Map (1986); Portraits (1990); Outside the Fold, Outside the Frame (1999); The Resurrection of the Animals (2002); Never the Whole Story (2011); When We Say Shelter (2007), with Oklahoma poet Jane Taylor; and The Unauthorized Audubon (2014), a collection of poems about imaginary birds accompanied by the linocuts of anthropologist/visual artist Laura B. DeLind.. With Taylor, she co-edited the literary anthology Once Upon A Place: Writings from Ghost Ranch (2008). Her poetry, short fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. While living in Kansas she contributed to the book review section of The Wichita Eagle Beacon and from 2002 to 2004 she wrote a column that focused on writing and the life of the writing community in Michigan for Lansing’s alternative newspaper, City Pulse.  Most recently, she contributed a book chapter entitled “Pomegranates, Hammocks, and Red Wheelbarrows: Just What Does Depend on Poetry?” to Creative Writing in the Community:  Take it Outside (2013) edited by Terry Thaxton and a review essay of the work of five poets, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” in the literary journal, Poetry Salzburg (Vol. 24, Fall 2013).

The MSU Museum exhibited the 22 prints and poems in The Unauthorized Audubon from September 8, 2012 through January 31, 2013 and in June 2014 The Unauthorized Audubon was exhibited at the Vale Craft Gallery in downtown Chicago. Anita continues collaborating with Guillermo Delgado on a call and response project of paintings (by Guillermo) and poems (by Anita) which can be viewed at, and with quilter Chris Worland on a project involving quilts and poetry. She has recently completed a new manuscript of poems, Road Down Troublesome and is working once again with Laura DeLind on a project titled The Book of Animal Harmonies.