Alumna’s book about family, love and loss was finalist for Oregon Book Award
Laurie Easter ’09 grew up in Palo Alto, CA but moved to Oregon in 1989. Once here with her husband Steve ’07 and MS ‘11, they moved to the quiet open space and country living of Williams, in the Applegate Valley.
In 2005, they both moved to Ashland so that Steve could pursue his degree after transferring from Rogue Community College. After an on-the-job gardening injury, Laurie decided to go to school as well since she couldn’t work at the time. She was able to transfer previously earned credits from Cabrillo Community College in California, to SOU.
Once on campus, Laurie pursued a lifelong dream of writing. Two favorite teachers, Tom Nash and Bill Gholson, inspired her and were instrumental on her path to becoming a writer. “They both helped guide me into a writing career and I will always be thankful for their great teaching and mentorship,” she said. She also worked for the campus newspaper, The Siskiyou, where she served as copy editor for a year and as a columnist for two years, while honing her burgeoning writing and editing skills. She graduated with her bachelor’s in English and writing in 2009. Afterwards, she pursued a graduate degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts, a low residency program that includes six-month semesters via correspondence with a faculty mentor and a 10-day on-campus residency twice a year. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction in 2012.
After finishing her degrees and returning home to the Applegate, Laurie worked as an editor for the Hunger Mountain Literary Journal for seven years while continuing to work on her MFA thesis, which she expanded and turned into a completed collection of essays, titled All the Leavings, in the fall of 2017. In 2018, she lost her beloved husband Steve but continued submitting the manuscript to publishers. “This is similar to a memoir and it covers our move to Oregon, birth of our second daughter, and motherhood with a focus on family, life and loss while living off the grid in rural Oregon,” said Easter.
All the Leavings was published by Oregon State University Press in the fall of 2021. Essays from the collection have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, listed as Notable in the Best American Essays, and anthologized in two books published by University of Nebraska Press. It has been featured on Jefferson Public Radio’s “Jefferson Exchange” and won a 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Award. It was also a finalist for the 2023 Oregon Book Award in creative non-fiction.
“SOU has had a profound impact on my family’s life. The college supported my husband as a non-traditional, first-generation college grad in attaining both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The English and Journalism departments both helped initiate my writing career. Even my youngest daughter attended SOU as a high school senior in the Scholars Program, preparing her to attend college on the East Coast, and her (newlywed) husband is an SOU graduate. We are truly a proud SOU family.”
Learn more: All the Leavings