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Ana Maria Spagna and Sarah Van Arsdale have been friends and colleagues for more years than they can remember, and now teach together in the Antioch LA low-residency MFA program. They were both astonished to realize their first books of poetry were going to be published by Finishing Line Press within weeks of each other. Hence, this dual celebration and promotion.

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Sarah Van Arsdale looks so relaxed and happy in this photo because it was taken in Mexico by her personal blood-pressure monitor, Peter Bricklebank.

Her first novel, Toward Amnesia, was published by Riverhead. Her second book, Blue (University of Tennessee Press), won the 2002 Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, and her third, Grand Isle, came out in 2012 (SUNY Press). Her novella collection, In Case of Emergency, Break Glass,  came out in 2016 with Queen's Ferry Press. Her most recent book before Taken is a single poem with her illustrations, The Catamount. Her work was short-listed for the Galtelli Literary Award, an international prize which brought her to Sardinia in October, 2015.


Sarah’s poetry, essays, short fiction and book reviews appear in literary magazines, including Guernica, Bayou, and The AWP Writers’ Chronicle. Sarah is currently on the fiction faculty of the Antioch/LA low-residency MFA program. For more, see


Ana Maria is a wildly gifted author, new to poetry, and endlessly entertained and inspired by her lovely wife Laurie, and Maybelle the cat (both of whom appear in this photo though AMS does not.)


She is the author of several previous books including Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going, Reclaimers, stories of elder women reclaiming sacred land and water, Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus, winner of the River Teeth literary nonfiction prize, 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It) a humor-infused exploration of how to live more lightly on the planet, and two previous essay collections, Potluck and Now Go Home. Her first novel for young people, The Luckiest Scar on Earth, about a 14 year-old snowboarder and her activist father, appeared in 2017.


Her poems have appeared in Bellingham Review, Pilgrimage, North Dakota Quarterly, Spoon River Poetry Review, and What Rough Beast. She lives (most of the time) in the North Cascades. You can find her at and on Twitter @amspagna