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WV Wesleyan MFA Alumna Lara Lillibridge Releases Debut Memoir

Apr 2, 2018

Lara Lillibridge, a native of Rochester, NY and a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing Program, releases her debut memoir, Girlish: Growing up in a Lesbian Home, on April 3, 2018 with Skyhorse Publishing. Lillibridge splits her time between Cleveland, OH and upstate New York. In 2016 she won Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s Prose Contest and The American Literary Review‘s Contest in Nonfiction, and was shortlisted for both Black Warrior Review’s and DisQuiet’s nonfiction prizes. Her work has appeared in Pure Slush, Vandalia, and Polychrome Ink; and on the web at Hippocampus, Crab Fat Magazine, Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere.

“This extraordinary book encompasses and embraces the complexities of 20th and 21st Century post-nuclear family realities,” writes author Sue William Silverman about Girlish. “This book is absolutely of its time, adding to and illuminating a Zeitgeist that cannot, and will not, be turned back. The enduring need that ties together this new reality to old is this: How do we find ways to love each other? Real love is not without ambivalence, and that is true here. This is the great strength of Girlish, a compelling memoir for our time.”

In describing the finished book’s relationship to her MFA thesis manuscript, Lillibridge says, “I came to the MFA program with the goal of writing this book; however, I first had to explore a lot of other material to free up space in my brain; creative nonfiction is an art of selection and often subtraction. In order to have a clear path of which stories I wanted to cull from my life, I needed a lot of material to work with, so I do not consider a single page of it wasted, even though only about 75-100 pages of my memoir were generated during my MFA.” Ultimately, her advice is: “Do not throw anything away.”

Lillibridge cites Maxine Swann as an important influence on her work. She adds, “We always stand on the backs of those who came before us. My memoir details abuse and sexual precociousness, and the work of Sue William Silverman, Kathryn Harrison, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Beverly Donofrio helped me give myself permission to write about such topics.”

Very proud of Lillibridge’s debut, MFA Director Jessie van Eerden says, “One of the most rewarding aspects of working with our MFA students is to see the wonderful work they give birth to while in the program and over time, post-graduation. Lara is on fire, and she works tirelessly. I am thrilled to see this memoir find an audience.”

The MFA program will host Lillibridge in the program’s public reading series during the summer residency, on July 7 at 7 pm in WV Wesleyan’s Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library.

To learn more about Lillibridge’s work, visit; to order Girlish, visit (also available on Amazon). For more information about Lillibridge’s public reading, or about WV Wesleyan’s creative writing program, contact MFA Director Jessie van Eerden at, 304-473-8329, or visit the MFA website at

WV Wesleyan’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing offers an apprenticeship model that enables students to earn a graduate degree without having to uproot their lives. Students are on campus for an intense residency period of nine to ten days each summer and winter, and complete their semester course work through correspondence with a mentor. Launched by Irene McKinney, who served as WV’s Poet Laureate until her death in February 2012, the program continues to honor her vision: the dynamic faculty is committed to fostering the creation of fine literature, particularly literature that explores place and identity. This program is the only one of its kind in the state.