Jessica Wilbanks grew up on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and attended Hampshire College, where she studied theology and creative nonfiction. Her first book, On the Far Side of the Fire: A Memoir, is forthcoming from Beacon Press in late 2017. Her essays and articles have appeared in Sycamore Review, Ninth Letter, Sojourners, Ruminate, The Tusculum Review, Owl Eye Review, and The Puritan.
Jessica has received a Pushcart Prize, an Emerging Artist Grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, the Wabash Nonfiction Prize from Sycamore Review, the VanderMey Nonfiction Prize from Ruminate magazine, Ninth Letter‘s annual creative nonfiction award, and Notable Mentions from Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading. In 2014, she was a finalist for PEN Center USA Literary Award in Journalism. Jessica has received fellowship support from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Taos Summer Writers Conference, the University of Houston, the West Africa Research Association, and The Nation magazine.
Jessica received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Houston, where she served as nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast. As an active member of the Houston literary community, Jessica has taught writing workshops at Inprint, Writespace, and Boldface, the University of Houston’s annual undergraduate writing conference, and was recently featured in the Houston Press “100 Creatives” blog series.