Kristin Bair

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Kristin Bair is the author of the novel Agatha Arch Is Afraid of Everything. Under the name Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, she has published two novels, The Art of Floating and Thirsty, as well as numerous essays about China, bears, adoption, off-the-plot expats, and more. Her work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Baltimore Review, The Manifest-Station, Flying: Journal of Writing and Environment, The Christian Science Monitor, Poets & Writers Magazine, Writer’s Digest, and other publications.

Kristin has an MFA from Columbia College Chicago and a BA in English and journalism from Indiana University, Bloomington. As a speaker and writing instructor, her peripatetic nature has landed her in classrooms and conferences around the globe, from Chicago to Boston to Shanghai, China, and many places in between. A native Pittsburgher, Kristin now lives north of Boston with her husband and two kiddos. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @kbairokeeffe.

If You’re Curious…

I’m Kristin. I write. I read. I teach writing. I give readings. I talk to people about writing and books and words.

I wrote my first poem (yup, started in poetry) when I was seven or eight years old. I was in my bedroom, and my mom was on our back patio drinking a cup of coffee. When she realized I was hunkered down in my bedroom on a lovely summer evening instead of playing freeze tag in the back yard with my sisters, she called through the window, “Kristin, what are you doing in there?”

Irritated at being interrupted in the middle of my creative process, I said, “Mom, I’m writing a poem. I am a poet, you know.”

“You are?” she said. This was the first she’d heard about it. I hadn’t yet shared the fact that I’d discovered my soul’s true nature.

That first poem was called “The Hummingbird.” I’ve been writing like crazy ever since.

Years later, while working on my master’s degree in Chicago, I started teaching fiction and creative nonfiction writing workshops at Columbia College. By the end of the first class I ever taught, I knew I loved to teach, and throughout the years, I’ve helped hundreds of students become better writers, gain confidence in their process, start and finish projects big and small, and learn to navigate the publishing world.

Throughout the years, I’ve taught in a number of traditional venues (Montserrat College of Art, Endicott College, Columbia College Chicago, Boston College, University of New Hampshire) and many non-traditional ones (homeless shelters, coffee shops, hotels, my living room, online). I’ve also been lucky enough to teach all kinds of writers: young kids, challenged teens, much-wiser-than-me older folks, grad students, executives, undergrads, visual artists, expats, homeless moms, and more.

Between “The Hummingbird” and today, I’ve had some exciting adventures. I earned a BA in English and journalism from Indiana University (Bloomington) and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago. I’ve lived in cool places: three major U.S. cities (Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York); a 540,000-acre ranch in New Mexico where I saw more bears and elk than people; and in the most glorious Shanghai, China. Happily, I’ve also published two (now three!) novels: Thirsty, The Art of Floating, and Agatha Arch Is Afraid of Everything.

Least favorite things?

Beef stew. Leaving. Being cold.

Favorite things?

A steaming hot cup of coffee at 4am. Arriving. Books that knock me off balance (Milkman by Anna Burns). Margaritas. Picture books. Being warm. Traveling. Telling a good story and helping others do the same.


Agatha Arch Is Afraid of Everything
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