Ellen Birkett Morris

Poet, Fiction Writer

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

Author's Bio

Ellen Birkett Morris is the author of LOST GIRLS, a finalist for the Clara Johnson Award for Women's Literature, and SURRENDER, a poetry chapbook, and ABIDE, a forthcoming chapbook. Her fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Notre Dame Review, South Carolina Review, Fiction Southeast, 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. Reviews of LOST GIRLS include: 

"Morris has an ability to wring a lot of emotion out of a few scant details, giving the feeling of a much longer work. Many share settings and characters, which contributes to a sense of interconnectivity and added meaning... she demonstrates a shrewd understanding of what makes her characters tick. In the end, readers will leave the collection feeling as though they’ve lived pieces of several real lives. A varied set of tales from a skilled practitioner of the short form."-- Kirkus Reviews

"There is something about reading the short stories in the collection Lost Girls by Ellen Birkett Morris that makes me think of a magic trick. Blink and you won’t be able to figure out how she does it. But then, don’t blink. Stare as hard as you can. Retrace favorite paragraphs and lines and still be mystified about her pointillistic ability to create the images and lines that take the breath out of your body and create the unforgettable lost girls — and women — who inhabit these spaces rarely immortalized as engagingly or sympathetically in contemporary literature." --Yvette Benavides, Book Public, Texas Public Radio 

The female characters in Lost Girls both startle and uplift us, but most importantly they demand to be seen. Set in and around the fictional southern mining town of Slocum, each of the seventeen stories in this collection features complex women and girls in pivotal moments of loss, self-discovery, and rebellion. With the same ease found in her Bevel Summers Award-winning short story, “May Apples,” Morris weaves in difficult topics effortlessly. In this collection, she does the important work of showing women as complicated, resourceful, erotic, unlikable, and bold in the face of societal pressures and outright violence against them."-"-Southern Review of Books 

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 Binnacle Ultra-Short Edition and was a finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Prize. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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 & Prizes


Hidden Kitchens (Rodale, 2006)
Nesting: Its a Chick Thing (Workman Publishing, 2004)
The Writing Group Book (Chicago Review Press, 2003)
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Centrifugal Eye
Clapboard House
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Heartland Review
NANO Fiction
Notre Dame Review
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Salt River Review
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Sliver of Stone
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The Rambler
Tishman Review
Turtle Quarterly


Motif 4: Seeking Its Own Level (MotesBooks, 2015)
Surrender (Finishing Line Press, 2012)
Journals: ,
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Prizes won: 

Rita Dove Potery Prize, Finalist, 2019.

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

Favorite authors: 
Hemingway, Kingsolver, Mason, Chehkov
What I'm reading now: 
The Vexations by Caitlyn Horrocks, We Love Anderson Cooper by R.L. Maizes, The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George, Meander Spiral and Explode by Jane Allison

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
American, Buddhist, Feminist
Prefers to work with: 
Adults, Seniors
Born in: 
Louisville, KY
Raised in: 
Louisville, KY
Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Last update: Sep 20, 2021