Melissa lives on a small mountain homestead in the Applegate Valley of southwestern Oregon. She grew up in southern California in a place of contrasts—orange groves, chaparral, coyote, suburbs. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz and an MS in Environmental Studies and Writing from the University of Montana. She also holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently teaches writing and literature at Southern Oregon University.
She is the author of a collaborative chapbook, (un)learning, with Andrea Beltran from Artifact Press (2016). Her essays have been published in numerous places including Mid-American Review, Guernica, River Teeth, and Bellingham Review among other publications. Her essay “A Gathering of Then & Now” is listed as a notable essay in the 2016 Best American Essays anthology. The same essay also won the 2015 AWP Intro Journals award. She is a 2017 ArtSmith Fellow and a recipient of a 2017 summer residency at Playa Summer Lake.
She has just finished a book-length memoir, Tracing the Desire Line on marriage, desire, identity, and home.
She’s also working on a new collection of essays, which explores the high desert of the Great Basin, Mary Austin, activism, definitions of wildness, the feminine, and beauty among other subjects.
She teaches Zumba dance classes and runs an organic market farm with her husband and two children.