Key West Literary Seminar
"SPIRIT OF PLACE: American Literary Landscapes"

January 10-13, 2002

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Panelist - Deanne Urmy

Deanne Urmy
Deanne Urmy

DEANNE URMY, senior editor at Houghton Mifflin in Boston, began her career by answering the telephones for David Godine, Publisher. She acquired her first book Robert Finch's Common Ground while at the switchboard, and has gone on to publish literary sense-of-place writing ever since. A graduate of Bowdoin College, she spent a year on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship studying avant-garde dance and dance criticism in Europe before returning to Boston and publishing.

After seven years at Godine, she left to work as a literary agent. That was a bad idea, and she came to Beacon Press in 1990, where as executive editor she edited Gretel Ehrlich, Bill McKibben, Jane Brox, Emily Hiestand, Scott Russell Sanders, and John Hay, among other sense-of-place writers. She is a bit of a Rachel Carson junkie, and was editor of Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson and of Always Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman.

Also while at Beacon she acquired other serious and creative nonfiction, including Marian Wright Edelman's best-selling The Measure of Our Success, Geoffrey Canada's Fist Stick Knife Gun, and Michael Patrick MacDonald's All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. These memoirs in particular have broadened Urmy's sense of the boundaries of sense-of-place writing to include work that is by urban people or about urban place; that is on the human body as place; that is about damaged land, and much more. She has been at Houghton Mifflin, publisher of Thoreau, John Muir, Mary Austin, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, and Rick Bass, among a veritable roster of classic and contemporary nature writers, since early 2001.

Her home is in Brookline, MA, with husband and two teenaged sons. The cats, lizards, frogs, fish, and snakes have finally died; the dog remains

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January 10-13, 2002 Seminar
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