Ellen Birkett Morris

2165 Eastview
Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 553-8872

Author's Bio

Ellen Birkett Morris is an award-winning, multi-genre writer, teacher and editor based in Louisville, Kentucky. Morris is the author of SURRENDER (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry has appeared in Thin Air Magazine, The Clackamas Literary Review, Juked, Alimentum, Gastronomica, 3Elements Review and Inscape, among other journals. Morris won top prize in the 2008 Binnacle Ultra-Short Edition and was a semi-finalist for the 2009 Rita Dove Poetry Prize. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Notre Dame Review, South Carolina Review, Sliver of Stone, Great Jones Street, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Upstreet, among other journals. She is the 2015 winner of the Bevel Summers Prize for her story “May Apples" and the Betty Gabehart Prize for Fiction. Her story “Like I Miss Being a Ballerina” was selected as an Honorable Mention in the Glimmer Train Press Family Matters short story competition. “Lincoln, Maw and Shorty” received an honorable mention in the Saturday Evening Post fiction contest. Her fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice. Morris’s plays have appeared in Mud City Journal, Monologue Bank, and Plays, The Drama Magazine for Young People. Her ten-minute play, "Lost Girls," was a finalist for the 2008 Heideman Award given by Actors Theatre. "Lost Girls" received a staged reading at Cincinnati’s Arnoff Center. Morris teaches creative writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky. She has contributed articles to national publications including Cooking Light, www.DrKoop.com, and www.womensenews.org. Her essays can be found in trade paperback books including NESTING: IT'S A CHICK THING, THE WRITING GROUP BOOK, THE GIRLS’ BOOK OF LOVE, and THE GIRLS’ BOOK OF FRIENDSHIP, in journals including Brevity blog,The Common, The Butter, The Fem and South Loop Review, and on National Public Radio. Her interviews and reviews have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, New Orleans Review, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Reading Ireland, (Louisville) Courier Journal, Best New Fiction and Authorlink.com. Morris has an MFA from the Queens University-Charlotte low residency program. She has received grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Kentucky Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She is the recipient of a 2013 Al Smith Fellowship for her fiction, given by the Kentucky Arts Council.

Publications and Prizes

(Finishing Line Press, 2012)
Hidden Kitchens
(Rodale, 2006)
, Motif 4: Seeking Its Own Level
(MotesBooks, 2015)
, Nesting: Its a Chick Thing
(Workman Publishing, 2004)
, The Writing Group Book
(Chicago Review Press, 2003)
3Elements Literary Review, Alimentum, Antioch Review, Binnacle, Blast Furnace, Centrifugal Eye, Clapboard House, Gastronomica, Heartland Review, Mindprints, NANO Fiction, Notre Dame Review, Paradigm, Pedestal Magazine, Plays, Qarrtsiluni, Ruminate, Salt River Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Shenandoah, Sliver of Stone, The Rambler, The South Carolina Review, Thin Air Magazine, Turtle Quarterly, upstreet
Prizes Won: 
Bevel Summers Prize, Shenandoah, 2015.Baltic Writing Residency Kentucky Writers Fellowship, Finalist, 2015.Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Postgraduate Scholarship, 2013.Kentucky Arts Council, Individual Artist Professional Development Grants, 2009, 2006, 2001.Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, 2008.    The Binnacle, Top Poetry Prize, 2008.Heideman Award (ten-minute plays), Finalist, 2008. Glimmer Train Family Matters Competition, Finalist, 2007.Betty Gabehart Prize for Fiction, Kentucky Women Writers Conference, 2005.The Pedestal Magazine Readers’ Awards, Honorable Mention, Fiction, 2005.Artist Enrichment Grant, Kentucky Foundation for Women, 2002.    

Personal Favorites

What I'm Reading Now: 
White Houses by Amy Bloom
Awayland by Ramona Ausubel
The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George
Favorite Books: 
Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout, Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, Euphoria by Lily King, Otherwise by Jane Kenyon
Favorite Authors: 
Hemingway, Kingsolver, Mason, Chehkov

More Information

Listed as: 
Fiction Writer, Poet
Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
Buddhist, Caucasian, Feminist
Prefers to work with: 
Adults, Seniors
Born in: 
Raised in: 
Louisville, KY
May Apples I. David and his grandfather walked through Blenheim Forest looking for May apples, the first sign of spring. His grandfather moved slowly, his bowed legs more wobbly than ever. When he was younger, David thought his body was fueled by tiny men inside him, ironing clothes or tending to their small homes. When two or more of them grew tired or ill, so would David. As they rallied, so would he. Later he learned that the body was muscle, blood and bones and eventually it would let you down. Hal showed David how to look for the sponge-like shapes of morel mushrooms under tulip poplars and pinch off their tops to preserve the root system. He taught David how to play dominoes and about the bone yard, where you pick from the remaining tiles. “Life is all about choices,” Hal would say, selecting a tile. Hal dropped salted peanuts in the shell into his bottle of coke and drank off the fizz before it spilled over onto the table. David did the same, though he didn’t care for peanuts in the shell. David loved the woods, the humming of insects, the birdsong, and the fact that he could hear their footfalls as they walked. “May apple, also called mandrake, racoonberry, and witches umbrella. The fruit makes a sweet jelly, but the root can kill you,” his grandfather said. David scanned the forest floor. “Right there?” he asked, pointing. “That’s it.” There was a small forest of green umbrellas. Plump seed pods peeked out from below the leaves. As they walked toward the May apples a slow rain began to fall.
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Last updated: Nov 13, 2018