About the Author
Great Plains writer Marilyn June Coffey has written three books, 600 poems, and dozens of articles and stories. A trained journalist (B.A., University of Nebraska, 1959) and creative writer (M.F.A., Brooklyn College, 1981), she has produced work that includes a popular memoir, a record-setting novel, and a prize-winning poem. Her poem, "Pricksong," reviewed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review and Newsweek, won a national Pushcart Prize. Coffey's novel Marcella made literary history. It was the first novel written in English to use female autoeroticism as a main theme. Gloria Steinem called it "an important part of the truth telling by and for women." Quartet in London published it in paperback; Pol in Australia and Ms. excerpted it, and Danish newspapers serialized it. In 1989, Coffey's memoir, Great Plains Patchwork, appeared. The New York Times called it entertaining and insightful. Atlantic Monthly featured a chapter as its cover story. Natural History bought two chapters, American Heritage one. Harper & Row, McGraw-Hill, Macmillan, and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich printed excerpts. Known as a prose stylist, Coffey received a Master Alumnus award for distinction in the field of writing from the University of Nebraska in 1977. Since 1987, the UN-L Archives has collected forty boxes of Coffey's papers in its Mari Sandoz room. In 1991, Coffey investigated the orphan train movement, developing three programs for the Nebraska Humanities Council. One became the second most popular of the 232 programs underwritten by NHC and spurred her to write Mail-Order Kid. Now retired, Coffey taught writing at Boston University, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and Fort Hays State University in Kansas for thirty-four years, twice earning tenure. She became an interpretive reader/performer, appearing on local radio stations, statewide TV, and before more than 130 groups in twelve states, from Maine to Texas. Coffey is an Admiral in the Great Navy of Nebraska, the state's highest honor. However, the honorary title is given tongue in cheek, since Admirals in landlocked Nebraska claim jurisdiction over little but tadpoles. Governor J. James Exon appointed Coffey, a Nebraska native, an Admiral in 1977 for her writing achievements.