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Hi. I'm Jenna McGuiggan.
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My Writing

I write in multiple genres, but I specialize in creative nonfiction pieces, particularly essays. I received my MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). My essays and articles have been published in a wide variety of print and online outlets. In 2009 curated and published Lanterns: A Gathering of Stories, a collection of prose, poetry, and photography by seven writers and artist exploring the power of women in creative community.

My current main work-in-progress is For All We Learned, The Sea, a collection of linked essays that explore longing and belonging, from where we live to what we believe. I am also at work on the early stages of a memoir and a novel.

I have served as a manuscript reader and an Assistant Editor at Hunger Mountain, the VCFA journal of the arts. In addition to my creative work, I also provide freelance/contract writing and editing services, as well as writing workshops, classes, and mentoring.


Finalist, The Orison Anthology 2017 Award in Nonfiction (judge: Scott Russell Sanders) 

Finalist, Hunger Mountain's 2016 Creative Nonfiction Prize (judge: Robert Michael Pyle)

Nominee, 2015 Best of the Net Anthology (published by Sundress Publications) 

Finalist, Prime Number Magazine's 2014 Creative Nonfiction Award (judge: Ned Stuckey-French)




Lanterns: A Gathering of Stories. The Word Cellar. 2009. (chapbook)
Lanterns: A Gathering of Stories is a curated collection of prose, poetry, and black & white photography by seven women writers, artists, and photographers. Each page offers up nuggets of wisdom and candor about life, friendship, and creativity. Read more and purchase


Featured Work 

"Outside Pittsburgh, A Fine Dining Restaurant for Everyone." 12forward. August 2018. 

"True Names." The Rappahannock Review. July 2018.

"What Happened on June 21, 2018." Essay Daily. July 2018. 

Interview of Kim Adrian, editor of The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms. Punctuate. April 2018.

"A Glut Against the Darkness." (prose poem) TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics. Vol 5, No 1. 2017 (print issue)

"Learning to Fall." Prairie Schooner blog. 2016.
We started my very first practice with a falling drill. Knowing how to fall correctly is a key part of roller derby. It's not that you want to fall, but you have to accept that it's going to happen, and you need to know how to do it as safely and painlessly as possible. {keep reading}


"Half a World Away (Fugue Unfinished)." The Manifest-Station. October 2015. 
I've been away: Out of town. Out of state. Out of this time zone. / I've been away: Out of words. Out of tears. Out of time. / Out of time: To have no time left. / Out of time: To be outside of time. {keep reading}


"The Sound Is Its Own Thing." Flycatcher. June 2015. 
Floating in one of the southern fingers of Puget Sound, Harstine Island is like no other place I've been. It looks like the woods, but it smells like the sea. I come from the landlocked southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, all rolling hills and woodlands. I spent childhood vacations breathing in the salt air of a New Jersey barrier island. Here on Harstine, it’s as though the two landscapes of my youth have been smashed together into one beautiful, interlacing juxtaposition...."{keep reading}

"Writing Workshop Is Not Group Therapy." Brevity's Nonfiction Blog. February 2015.

"It's easy to read a memoir or essay and feel as though we know the author, even though all we really know is what the writer shared with us on the page. This false sense of familiarity is one thing when we read published work by authors we may never meet. But in a creative nonfiction workshop, this faux intimacy becomes a slippery slope...." {keep reading}

"What Is Your Emergency?" New World Writing. October 2014.
"We both saw it coming. How could we not? It's a straight shot from the top of the hill through several intersections to the bottom. The driver must have seen us. Surely she was slowing down. You can't miss a big-ass Buick in the middle of the road unless you're just drunk enough to fail the sobriety test the police will give you...." {keep reading}

"More Pages, Fewer Screens." Bella Grace. Summer 2014.
"Like so many others, I get sucked into the whirl of the online world and lose minutes and hours. Don't get me wrong: I love the Internet, including email and social media. These modern wonders connect me to people all over the world, inspire me, and enable me to run my freelance writing and editing business. There is also much wonderful reading to be done online. For all of this, I am grateful and delighted.

"Velocity." The Collapsar. November 2013.
"Somewhere west of the Pennsylvania border but east of Columbus, the tree-dense slopes on either side of the highway started to ease themselves down to the ground...." {keep reading}

"Love and Silverware." Connotation Press. September 2013.
"I rinse a half dozen pieces of silver—a little metal bouqet—under running water. The sound of forks, spoons, and butter knives clattering together transports me back tot he kitchen of my childhood...." {keep reading

 "Sugar Baby." Extract(s). 
"Every time I clean my kitchen sink, I think of you. You, who gave me housekeeping tips about a shiny sink while you were dying (and trying not to die) of cancer there on the other side of the world...." {keep reading}

"Changing Places: The Scottish Highlands."  Dixon Hill. June 2012.
"New Year's, 1999. Four Americans living in the U.K. We gathered in Edinburgh, celebrated Hogmanay, and headed north. Night drops early there in winter. From the backseat of the car I peered out the cold glass at dark-on-dark...." {keep reading}

"What It's Like Living Here," Numéro Cinq. May 2012.
"You try to tell people what it’s like living here, but you’re not sure you know. You’ve lived here nearly your whole life, and you’re numb to this place. You have to push yourself to see it. You tell people that this small town, situated thirty-five miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is the last bastion of suburbia before the routes go rural..." {keep reading}

"Be Present Retreats: Community & Creativity" (Autumn 2011); "Soul Sisters: The Power of Women Gathering" (Spring 2014). Mingle.
is a beautiful print magazine from Stampington & Co. I've written articles for the premier issue, published in Autumn 2011, and the Spring 2014 issue, both available here.






> New Chapter (donor newsletter), Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (2014 - 2017)


> Just Cause Magazine:

> Pop City:

Select Editing Projects