Elizabeth Enslin is the author of While the Gods Were Sleeping: A Journey Through Love and Rebellion in Nepal (Seal Press 2014), a finalist for a 2016 Oregon Book Award in creative nonfiction and winner of an Honorable Mention for a 2014 IndieFab Book of the Year Award in Autobiography/Memoir. Her essays have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Raven Chronicles, Panorama, and other journals. Recognition for her work includes an Individual Artist Fellowship Award from the Oregon Arts Commission, an Honorable Mention for the Pushcart Prize, a Notable for Best American Essays and a Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholarship in Nonfiction to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Currently working on a sequel to her first book, she lives in a straw bale house and raises yaks, pigs and garlic on a farm in Wallowa County, Oregon.
In My Own Words
The Early Years
Through my mostly absent father, I’m a fourth generation Oregonian. But I was born and raised in Seattle. I spent my childhood reading books, tending a menagerie of pets, birdwatching, snorkeling and scuba diving.
The Academic Years
With funding from various sources, including the MacArthur Foundation and Social Science Research Council, I did some research in Chitwan District, Nepal on gender and space, social inequality, women’s organizing strategies, poetics and politics, and cultural differences in cultivation and land use.
I delivered lectures and published academic articles on these topics, but I learned the most about Nepali culture by marrying into a politically active Brahman family, giving birth to my son, and helping out on the farm.
The Teaching Years
I’ve taught at Stanford University, The Evergreen State College, Lewis and Clark College and advised graduate students at The University of Iowa and Syracuse University. But I had no desire for a career in academia. In the mid-90s, I ventured out of the ivory tower to work as a non-profit administrator, grantwriter, and independent consultant.
Wanting more stimulation, I began teaching social studies at the Portland Waldorf High School on September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of what happened that day, I developed a social studies curriculum to deepen historical memory and broaden cross-cultural understanding. Often inspired and always moved by my students’ journey through adolescence, I engaged them through role plays, lively discussions, and song. I retired from full-time service at PWHS in 2007. I miss working with teens (seriously), but I love having more time for my many projects — which brings me to….
The Farm Years
For several years, I divided my time between a house in Portland, Oregon and a farm in a remote corner of northeast Oregon. My guy and moved to our farm full-time in 2013 and are busy finishing our off-grid, strawbale house.
I published my first book in 2014. I also write literary nonfiction and poetry, grow and market gourmet garlic and heritage hogs and raise yaks.