The Milk House features the best in rural writing from all over the globe. Here are the writers that have contributed to making this site the place to find good reading.
Ryan Dennis explores the dynamics of rural life and those who inhabit it. His fiction, personal essays and poetry have appeared in numerous literary journals, such as The Cimarron Review, Fourth Genre and New England Review. He is a former Fulbright recipient in creative writing and has taught at several universities. He is the author of the literary farming novel The Beasts They Turned Away, forthcoming by Epoque Press in March 2021.
Robert Block is a lifelong New Yorker, resident in Manhattan for the last 40-plus years. He is a professional chef, restauranteur, academically trained classical musician and privately trained student of jazz great Lennie Tristano. He plays bass violin in several classical orchestras and jazz settings, as well as electric bass guitar in more rollicking venues. As a writer, Rob has produced both short and longer fiction as well as opera libretti. He has been an active blogger for several years. His interest in rural life draws on visits to his sister, then living on an acreage in eastern South Dakota, and on their road trips west. He has also written a novel called Ardensville. His piece can be found here.
Patrick Deeley grew up in a Callows or wetland meadow farmed by his mother in the east of County Galway. He worked as a teacher and later as administrative principal of a primary school in Dublin. He has published seven books of poetry with Dedalus Press, including The Bones of Creation and Groundswell. His most recent collection, The End of the World, was shortlisted for the 2020 Farmgate Award. His works of fiction for younger readers were published by O’Brien Press, and a bestselling memoir, The Hurley Maker’s Son, appeared from Transworld in 2016. His awards include The Dermot Healy International Poetry Prize, The Eilis Dillon Book of the Year Award and The Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award. His piece can be found here.
Colin T. Gilbert
Novelist, columnist and short story writer Colin Gilbert isn’t really from anywhere. He spent a green block of childhood in an Indonesian jungle, learned to drive in the spatter-pattern streets of New Orleans, studied creative writing and other inutile arts in Iowa, lost himself in the language, literature and various underworlds of Prague, and invented a complete language against the pine-clogged backdrops of Denver. He is fabulously inept in four languages, proud of his rock and mineral collection, makes artisanal soaps in his kitchen, keeps a folder of his favorite crossword puzzles, and authored two novels, Angel Fever and The Virtues of Destruction. His piece can be found here.
Nicki Griffin grew up in Cheshire in the north west of England, but has lived in County Clare, Ireland since 1997. Her poetry has been published in a wide variety of journals and anthologies. Her debut collection, Unbelonging, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Award 2014 for best debut collection. The Skipper and Her Mate (non-fiction) was published by New Island in 2013, and her latest poetry collection, Crossing Places (2017), was published by Salmon Poetry. She was winner of the 2016 Trócaire Poetry Ireland competition. Nicki has read her poems at events and festivals both in Ireland and abroad, and in 2017 was judge of the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Competition. She is co-editor of poetry newspaper Skylight 47. Her piece can be found here.
Copywriter, poet, and essayist Michael Halloran grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He has lived and worked across the world in countries such as South Korea, Vietnam, and the USA. He currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his family. His piece can be found here.
Shannon’s work has appeared in national publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Review, and Northeast Public Radio. She has a large following for her blog The Radical Homemaker and has written seven books, including The Grassfed Gourmet, The Farmer and the Grill, and Homespun Mom Comes Unraveled. The most recent, Redefining Rich, is due out next summer from BenBella Books. From May through Mid-December, she writes weekly essays that appear on her blog, as well as in Yes! Magazine. Through the winter she hibernates and works on her book manuscripts. Her piece can be found here.
Poppy Johnson works and lives in New England, focusing on various writing projects with international and domestic clients. She is a graduate of the Michael Moritz College of Law, and writes on legal, technical, scientific and medical white papers, proposals and treatises. Lately, she is working with schools across the country developing new curriculum for remote learners of all ages. Her piece can be found here.
Martin Keaveney’s debut novel Delia Meade will be published by Penniless Press, UK later in 2020. His collection of stories, The Rainy Day, was published by Penniless Press in 2018. His short fiction and rural writing has been published in many literary journals in Ireland, UK and US. He has also written for the screen and his writing has been produced and exhibited at several international film festivals and on broadcast television. His play Coathanger was selected for development in a national competition at the Scripts Ireland festival in 2016. His scholarship was recently published in the peer-reviewed New Hibernia Review, Journal of Franco-Irish Studies, Liverpool Journal of Postgraduate Studies and Estudios Irlandeses. He has a B.A. in English and Italian, an M.A in English (Writing) and a Ph.D. at NUIG (Creative Writing and Textual Studies). He was awarded the Sparanacht Ui Eithir for his research in 2016 and the NUIG Write-Up Bursary in 2018. See more at www.martinkeaveney.com. His pieces can be found here and here.
Dudley Laufman has published numerous trade edition books of poems, such as An Orchard and a Garden (1974), Mouth Music (2001), The Stoneman (2005), Walking Sticks (2007), She Plumb Ned, She More’n Plum ( 2011), and the chapbooks: Smoke Screen and Behind the Beat (2004, 2008), Left Eye (2012), as well as numerous other pamphlets, chapbooks and broadsides. In 2009 he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship. He is a recipient of the New Hampshire GOVERNOR’S AWARD IN THE ARTS Lifetime Achievement Folk Heritage Award for 2001. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Award, and is the subject of a documentary film The Other Way Back. For more information about Dudley, check out www.laufman.org. His piece can be found here.
Richard A. Levins
Dr. Richard A. Levins is Professor Emeritus of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. He is an award-winning author of books about policy and economic issues affecting the food system and the general economy, including the biography Willard Cochrane and the American Family Farm. After spending over 25 years in major universities advising adult learners on farm management issues and teaching economic principles, he left University life in 2003 and maintains an active practice in consulting, writing, and public speaking. Much of his work centers on agricultural policy and the economic and environmental benefits of organic and sustainable agriculture. He is the founder of Levins Publishing. His piece can be found here.
Maura McElhone is an author and columnist whose work has appeared in The Irish Times, the Irish Farmers Journal, on thejournal.ie, Image.ie, and on RTÉ Radio 1’s CountryWide programme. Born and raised in Portstewart, County Derry, she studied in Scotland at undergraduate level and completed a Masters in Writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She lives in Kildare with her husband and their four-month old son. Maura was the 2017 recipient of the Cecil Day Lewis Literary Bursary for Emerging Writers from Kildare County Council. Falling for a Farmer, her first book, was published by the Mercier Press in October 2018. Her piece can be found here.
Paddy worked 20 years in a German car factory before redundancy led him to return to full time education. He spent a year on IT, and then headed to NUI Galway for a BA in English and History, PGDE in Teacher Training and finally an MA in History, graduating as a Secondary Teacher at the age of 58. The next years were spent teaching and working for the exam commission as Examiner and Superintendent, and summers were spent teaching English in Malta. He is now retired and working to lower his handicap on Galway Bay golf course. In December 2020 he published Walking Through a Story of Life. All proceeds from the books go to support the charity Darkness Into Light. He has also written a 135,000-word tome about his life going from conflict in Belfast to academia in Galway. It’s due to be published at Easter, and is titled Armed Struggle to Academia. His piece can be found here.
Surnaí Ó Maoildhia
In a family of six, Surnaí was raised on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands. Home-schooled until the age of fifteen, she then joined school, so as to sit her Leaving Certificate Examinations. She is now a student of NUI Galway, entering her final year in Creative Writing with English and Maths. Her piece can be found here.
Liz Quirke is a writer and scholar from Co. Kerry. Salmon Poetry published her debut collection The Road, Slowly in 2018. She teaches on the MA in Writing at NUI Galway and is completing a practise-based PhD on Queer Kinship in Contemporary Poetry. Her piece can be found here.
Born in 1999, Samantha was raised in a family of five in Navan, Co.Meath. After sitting her Leaving Certificate Examinations in 2017, she moved to Galway to pursue studies in Creative Writing. She is now a final year student of Creative Writing with French and Spanish at NUI Galway. She shares her poetry over on her Instagram @wordbrewpoems. Her piece can be found her.
Noah Siela lives in Columbia, Missouri and teaches writing at the University of Missouri. He graduated from the University of Iowa and earned an MFA from The University of Maryland, where he won the Academy of American Poets Prize and the Stan Plumly Thesis Award. His chapbook, Meep Meep?, was a finalist for The Slash Pine Press Chapbook Contest. His work has been published in Phantom Limb, Calaveras, Oak Bend Review, and Full of Crow among others. His piece can be found here.
Lorna Sixsmith’s first book Would You Marry A Farmer? (2013) was inspired following the popularity of one of the posts on her Irish Farmerette blog. Later books include How to be a Perfect Farm Wife (2015), How to be an Ideal Farm Husband (2016) and more recently, her memoir Till the Cows Come Home (2018) by Black and White Publishing. Married to a farmer, Lorna manages the calf rearing in the spring but doesn’t get bored for the rest of the year. Lorna was co-founder of Blog Awards Ireland and co-organised the event for three years.Lorna has spoken at a number of events, including the Dublin Web Summit and National Women’s Enterprise Day. She is an occasional panellist on TV3’s Midday, has been interviewed on Ireland AM, the Seven O’Clock Show and Tubridy 2FM, as well as being featured in numerous print publications. Her piece can be found here.
Jim Trelease is an America nonfiction writer. Born in New Jersey in 1941, he spent more than a decade as a journalist for a daily newspaper in Massachusetts before self-publishing in 1979 a 30-page booklet on the cognitive benefits of reading aloud to children. Penguin USA liked the booklet’s concept enough to publish his greatly expanded version in 1982, called The Read-Aloud Handbook. By the time Mr. Trelease retired in 2013, he had spent almost three decades lecturing in all 50 states and the Handbook had sold two million copes in seven different American editions. More information can be found at trelease-on-reading.com. His piece can be found here.
Adam Trodd’s fiction and poetry have appeared in publications such as The Irish Times, Crannóg, Banshee, The Molotov Cocktail, Ellipsis and The Caterpillar, as well as the Bath Flash Fiction and National Flash Fiction Day anthologies. He won the Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition and the Book of Kells Creative Writing Competition and was one of the selected poets for Ireland’s first Poetry Jukebox installation in Belfast. He was a Best Small Fictions 2018 and 2020 nominee and has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award. He is on the editorial team for Splonk. His piece can be found here.
Sally is probably the shortest farmer in England. She left her city career in 2004 to live on High House Farm in Northumberland with her husband Steve. Now they have two children, 200 sheep, Mavis the sheep dog, a fat pony and a farm cat. She is the author of Diary of a Pint-Sized Farmer: A Year in Keeping Sheep, Raising Kids, and Staying Sane, published in 2020. Sally now spends her time farming sheep, looking after her children, writing, working, madly hoovering and fighting the urge to lie down on the carpet or fall asleep under a blanket. Her piece can be found here.
Philip’s passion for the land and its people began early. After farming in his native Cumbria for ten years, Philip practised as a barrister until he came to realise that the land was his real calling. The theme of his writing is that humanity has a sacred duty to cultivate the soil and make it fertile for our sustenance; that without our cultivation the land becomes a forbidding wilderness; and that by our husbandry we create real beauty. Philip has had two books published: the Sunday Times best-seller, Counting Sheep (2015) and its sequel Till the Cows Come Home (2018). He is currently writing a book about our practical and mystical relationship with water. His piece can be found here.
M.D. Wanyagah is a freelance writer and contributor for technical, health and financial blogs. He is based in Kenya, and has worked at TUKO Media Freelance and currently works with other companies as an international freelancer. He has received a B.A. from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (Dekut) with a degree in English Language and Literature. He also speaks fluent Swahili, and writes creatively on fiction short stories whenever he gets the chance. His piece can be found here.
Will Weaver grew up on a farm in Minnesota and published novels with Farrar Straus and Giroux, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster. Among his many books, he is the author of Barns of Minnesota (2005), and more recently Sweet Land: New and Selected Stories (2017). In 2011, he was a fiction judge for the National Book Awards. His post-apocalyptic novel Memory Boy (2003) is used widely in schools across the United States, and in 2016 was produced as a full length opera by the Minnesota Opera. In total he has published 12 novels/novellas, three short story collections and a book of nonfiction. Two films, Red Earth, White Earth (1989) and Sweet Land (2006), have been adapted from his work. You can learn more about him on his website. His piece can be found here.
Pat Argar (The Rural Writer)
Pat Argar writes a blog as The Rural Writer in which she has explored the fiction of Sheila Kaye-Smith, presented her poetry and short fiction, has written a Covid 19 “lockdown” diary each day for over one hundred days, posted pictures of the village in which she lives and continues to add to the diary with her observations of the countryside, her garden and the natural life around her. She has taught English Literature in schools and at university. Most of her rural writing is inspired by Romney Marsh and the surrounding areas in Kent and East Sussex, UK, and by her upbringing in a farming family. Her blog can be accessed at theruralwriterblog.wordpress.com and she is also on Twitter @theruralwriter. Her piece can be found here.
Josie Kriener grew up on a dairy farm in northeast Iowa. Now a student at the University of Northern Iowa, Josie is actively pursuing degrees in Marketing and Management Information Systems, as well as competing for the cross country and track and field programs. She started her blog The Holstein Hub for a college course, and it quickly became a platform to give a personal, informative look at family farming and tackle common misperceptions along the way. Her piece can be found here.
Cindy Ladage is a freelance writer and blogger at Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl
DJ McAuliffe is a farmer and blogger living outside Castle Island in Co. Kerry, Ireland and has been working in the agricultural sector from the early 1990s. He now runs a herd of Scottish Highland and Belted Galloway cows, as well as some rare breed Kerry bog ponies. He has recently started the blog Black Field Farm about farming issues facing rural life in Ireland. His piece can be found here.
Fred and Michelle operate the 10-acre homestead Fable Farms. Fred is a third generation farmer with his roots deeply planted in the fertile Virginia soil. He grew up working the family’s 500 acre farm, share cropping even more to expand their acreage and living in their old farm house, a structure that had once been a Civil War hospital. Michelle was raised in a military family and dreamed of the day she could farm. She prepared for the day her dream would come true by reading as much as she could on every farming subject she could find, visiting on her aunt’s farm and learning random homestead skills.They have a blog with their own rural writing called Fable Farm and Meadery. Their piece can be found here.
Steve Adams is a recently retired senior global medical device marketing executive living with his wife, Roberta, between the Wapsipinicon and the Maquoketa in an Iowa farmhouse just west of the Mississippi. Graduating from a one room school first (and last) in his 8th grade class, he has a BS from Iowa and done graduate work at Stanford, Harvard, Dartmouth and Northwestern. During his career, he successfully developed, managed and led over 200 international organizations in 65 countries. He is unrepentantly impassionate, lives to torment his progeny and their six offspring, collects 2-cylinder John Deere tractors and enjoys extreme mowing with his 3-cylinder diesel lawn mower. This submission of rural writing is his first published article. His piece can be found here.
Adam attended the University of Iowa undergrad fiction workshop before putting on shiny shoes and becoming a lawyer in Iowa. He lives with his pretty wife, two kids, and an unhealthy obsession with K-pop. His piece can be found here.
Stephen has an MA in Drama and Theatre Studies. He works as a teacher and writes to avoid accusations of hypocrisy from his students! He has written primarily for the stage and has also directed a selection of dramas and musicals. He lives in Galway with his wife and son. His piece can be found here.
Consummate little brother and dark child. Eclectic writer and world traveler – Dave is a dude who who does the dangerous, mysterious, and otherwise different. His piece can be found here.
If you would like to submit a piece to The Milk House and contribute to the best in rural writing, please email RyanDennis@themilkhouse.org.