Jennifer Sinor

Born in Kingsville, Texas, to a Naval officer, Jennifer Sinor arrived in northern Utah in July of 2000 and has lived there ever since. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan in English and Education in 2000, and her work initially focused on women’s life writing, specifically personal writing like letters and journals. She began her career at Utah State University in the fall of 2000 and has taught thousands of students by this point. She currently chairs the creative writing emphasis and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in creative nonfiction.

The author of several books, her first book, The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary Writing: Annie Ray’s Diary (U of Iowa P), is a crossgenre exploration of the diary of her great, great, great aunt, Annie Ray, a woman who homesteaded in the Dakotas in the late nineteenth century and who kept a diary that most would consider useless. Jennifer named Annie’s writing ordinary and developed a way to read the kind of writing many would dismiss. Although she would leave scholarly writing within a few years and turn entirely to creative nonfiction, Jennifer’s reverence for the ordinary tethers her work. In 2017, she published a memoir, Ordinary Trauma, which tells the story of growing up as a military child in a world where the possibility of war was made ordinary every day. In that same year, she published a collection of essays that take inspiration from the letters of the American modernist Georgia O’Keeffe. The essays in Letters Like the Day move in, out, and around the personal correspondence of O’Keeffe to think about the relationship between art and the ineffable. In the fall of 2020, Jennifer will publish the essay collection Sky Songs with the University of Nebraska Press. That collection is dedicated to her time in Utah and begins with essays that wrestle with western landscapes only to move to essays that wrestle with inner landscapes. They cover the last fifteen years of living in Utah and focus on raising sons who have never lived outside the state. In some ways, Sky Songs, with its attention to the West and to place writing, has its roots in a book Jennifer co-authored with Rona Kaufman in 2007 entitled Placing the Academy in which writers consider the place of the university as a force shaping their creative work.

A military brat, Jennifer has no real sense of home, other than the one carried inside. But she has lived in Utah four times longer than any other place. Her children call Utah home. And that is close enough.

The recipient of the Stipend in American Modernism, Jennifer has published essays in many literary journals. She has led workshops around the country and enjoys teaching the students at Utah State. A certified yoga instructor, her current creative project involves a collection of essays that rise from the study and practice of yoga. Jennifer is married to the poet, Michael Sowder. They have two teenage sons and live at the edge of Logan Canyon.


First published in Green Mountains Review. Forthcoming in Sky Songs: Essays (U of Nebraska P).



  • Sky Song: Essays. Forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press.
  • Letters Like the Day: On Reading Georgia O’Keeffe. University of New Mexico Press, 2017.
  • Ordinary Trauma: A Memoir. University of Utah Press, 2017.
  • Placing the Academy:  Essays on Landscape and Academic Identity (co-edited with Rona Kaufman). Utah State University Press, 2007.
  • The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary Writing:  Annie Ray’s Diary. University of Iowa Press, 2002.