Amanda Giracca


Amanda Giracca writes about the confluence of landscape and the imagination. She is largely inspired by the place she’s called home for most of her life–the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts–and by the far flung locales she at one time or another considered calling home. She is currently a lecturer in SUNY Albany’s Writing and Critical Inquiry program. Her  writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from Fourth Genre, Imagination & Place: Cartography, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment,, and Passages North, among others. She has edited three national literary journals, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has received funding for writing projects from the University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Room Scholarships, Northern Michigan University’s Excellence in Education Research Grant, and the Boschen Fund for Artists Grant through the Berkshire-Taconic Community Foundation. See a complete list of publications and select links at Contact her at AmandaGiracca AT

Stories by Amanda:

  • On Reading a Killer’s Manifesto

    Over Memorial Day weekend, I enjoyed an idyllic three days with friends. When they left on Tuesday, I returned to the world and caught up on the news I’d been missing. I’d heard of the Isla Vista shooting, but it wasn’t until Tuesday where I finally learned of all the details. While I had been […]–Read more

  • Of Bikes and Men

    I’ve just completed my first year as a full-time lecturer teaching writing at a state university, and this is, undoubtedly, the most anticipated summer vacation of my life. After nine months of being tied to my desk, of prepping, teaching, reading, and evaluating, of being saturated with fluorescent light and numbed by the institutional gray […]–Read more

  • Crafting Memoir and “Doing Grief”: An Interview with Melanie Bishop

    This week’s guest writer, Melanie Bishop, was one of my first writing teachers at Prescott College, a small liberal arts and environmental school in Arizona. Here’s what I remember about my writing classes with Melanie: There would be ten, maybe twelve of us sitting around a table, a common manuscript in hand, intently discussing craft. […]–Read more

  • Lives and Past Lives

    1. I’ve always loved walking at night. I’ll go anywhere: through the neighborhoods of small towns, through a dozen identical suburbs, through seedy Pittsburgh neighborhoods and seedier Latin American cities. In any location, the impulse is the same: I walk at night to look into the lighted windows of strangers. At night, windows roll by […]–Read more

  • Women We Read This Week

    Claire Messud interviewed by Alex Clark in The Guardian I’ve come late to Claire Messud: I picked up The Last Life on a whim last weekend – it was on a table piled high with paperbacks for sale at the farmers’ market, and I brought it home and fell right into it, full of remarkably […]–Read more

  • Freedom to Speak: An Interview with Sampsonia Way’s Silvia Duarte

    In her essay “Forbidden,” this week’s guest writer, Katie Booth, writes about her experience teaching writing at a university in Guangzhou, China. As an American, she struggled to find texts that wouldn’t be seen as subversive in the eyes of the Chinese government. In the classroom, she skirted around words, unsure of what was acceptable […]–Read more

  • A Life’s Work

    By the time my father was in his late fifties, he’d calculated the number of days of work he had left until he could retire; it was somewhere over eight hundred. I remember being home on a visit from college and coming downstairs to his early-morning math calculations. This was my weekend father: sitting at […]–Read more

  • Yo Soy Perú

    The toucan lifts its lobster-claw bill into the sky over and over, releasing its whooping, loonish phrase like a persistent question. It wears a penguin’s tuxedo plumage, yet with flair—a yellow band at the base of the bill, bright blue just around the eye, a flash of red beneath the black tail feathers. It sits […]–Read more

  • Still Life in Ecuador

    Zaruma. Late morning. At his Abuelita’s house we ate cheese empanadas and overripe fruit, and we sat in chairs that lined either side of a hallway leading to the front balcony, the one that overlooked the central plaza. I’d discovered in the early dark one morning that a crew would meticulously groom the flowers planted […]–Read more

  • A Road Runs Through It

    I strain to see stars through the tropical haze and the pollution of the city. Moto taxis rattle over the nearby road, and Latin pop music laced with Incan pan pipes plays tinnily from a nearby stereo—at least whenever the welding noises in the garage behind me cease. I’m lying in the back of a […]–Read more

  • Women We Read This Week

    A gathering of some of the best pieces by women we’ve read online this week. Two by Emily Rapp My favorite pieces this week, Emily Rapp’s “Dirty or Clean?” on The Rumpus and “Men Who Made My Legs” on Salon, will surprise no one: I’ve been pushing Rapp’s writing ever since I started reading her […]–Read more

  • The Long Haul

    It’s late November in Mill River, which means the orange hunting hats are for sale again at the general store. You think it might be time to get yourself a new one. You wonder, when Dave sells the place—that is, if he ever sells the place—will they still stock it each November with the orange […]–Read more

  • The Art of Collaboration

    When Vela started a year ago, pretty much the only rule that the six participating writers established was that the writing should somehow be about, or simply inspired by, travel. Style, structure, and voice were all left up to each of us. It was meant to be a venue where we could write what we […]–Read more

  • Not There Yet…

    If you were a woman in the 1960’s and you worked at Newsweek, chances are you were a researcher, fact checker, or mail girl—but probably not a writer or editor. If you were a back-of-the-book researcher, you shared your office with a man in a typical “office wife” fashion—his desk by the window, yours by […]–Read more

  • Below the Surface

    The kid says he saw a fireball once. “Tell it Spanish so that everyone understands,” Abraham tells him, and the kid switches from Portuguese to Spanish, cupping his hands together over his head as he speaks. “It was this ball. Of fire. Flying through the sky,” he explains. He saw it a few years ago. […]–Read more

  • “God Bless Big Oil”: Field Notes from the Land of Industrial Tourism

    “You want to know why they always name a blast furnace after a woman?” asked a stout woman in dark sunglasses and a hardhat. “Because they’re hot, fiery, and temperamental.” A few in the gathered crowd laughed. It was a joke that both the overt tourists with their expensive cameras and the men who’d come […]–Read more

  • Summer People

    They arrive as the first dogwood trees are flowering. They trickle in at first, so few you don’t even notice. They come for the trees, the wide-open spaces, for the first hints of fresh spring air billowing down from the hilltops. You might notice one on the roadside snapping a photo, or another stopped dead […]–Read more

  • Fear and Loneliness in Sublette County

    It was lonely at the top of Indian Pass. I should have been more excited to be at the apex of my hike, nearly 12,000 feet in elevation. In some ways, I felt lame that I wasn’t going any higher—I couldn’t even climb a mountain—but it was sheer rock above. A rubble field spread out […]–Read more

  • A Non-Travel Essay

    One has only to watch a collector handle the objects in his glass case. As he holds them in his hands, he seems to be seeing through them into their distant past as though inspired. —Walter Benjamin It is the twist in the red tail’s neck that makes it so appealing. The way I can […]–Read more

  • A Road Runs Through It

    I strain to see stars through the tropical haze and the pollution of the city. Moto taxis rattle over the nearby road, and Latin pop music laced with Incan pan pipes plays tinnily from a nearby stereo—at least whenever the welding noises in the garage behind me cease. I’m lying in the back of a […]–Read more