about jalina

I’m an American poet, essayist, and graphic artist living between Italy and England. My creative writing appears in or is forthcoming from The Southeast Review, The Cincinnati Review, CutBank, The Roanoke Review, Structo, Room, Slipstream, Burrow Street Review, and others.

My hybrid memoir Dreaming in Night Vision has garnered rave reviews such as “playful, irreverent and provocative,” “this isn’t a book, it is a work of art,” and “poignant, ethereal and raw.”

I’ve also written three poetry chapbooks, one of which won publication in the 2007 Pudding House Chapbook Competition. My poetry has received commendation from National Book Critics Circle Award winner Judy Jordan, and my collection “Spikeseed” was called “a wild and redolent collection” by poet and Guggenheim Fellow Li-Young Lee.

Major Jackson, Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review, wrote, “One admires [Mhyana’s] high-spiritedness and Dionysian spirit as well as the large-scale intellect that ranges over various cultures…her artistry is embodied in her ability to make infectious in the language…a wild heart that is in love with herself and the world around her.” He also wrote that my writing is “capable of redefining our notion of the personal as political.”

My poems have been twice nominated for the ‘Best of the Net’ anthology and several times for the Pushcart Prize.

I worked as a journalist for the Herald Union in Germanywriting articles about medieval Bavarian superstitions, the Brothers Grimm, and the living architecture of the artist Hundertwasser.  I was also the founding editor of Rock Salt Plum Review, an online literary journal, for five years. In this capacity, I interviewed many writers and artists such as Mikey Welsh of Weezer fame, as well as poets such as Kim Addonizio and Lola Haskins.

More recently I served as curator of the Ekphrasis reading series at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum and as contributing editor at Sigh Press: a Tuscan Literary Journal.

I moderated a panel of literary agents and editors for “Publishing Day” at St. Mark’s Cultural Association in Florence, Italy.

I’ve edited books, articles, brochures, speeches given to the United Nations, and interviews with fashion giants such as Courrèges and Miyake, among other things. I’ve also ghostwritten various books and articles, and recently ghostwrote the film script for Anayi, the Tokyo fashion designer’s 2017 winter collection.

I was accepted into the Bennington Writing Seminars as a high school dropout, a rare privilege granted by the Director based on my writing portfolio and “involvement in the world of letters.” After earning my MFA in creative writing with top honors, I attended Oxford University where my writing won a travel bursary to study medieval art in Vienna.

I’ve always been involved with writing communities, from my small circle of writer friends and mentors in Misawa, Japan, to my classmates and professors at Bennington College in Vermont, the Heidelberg Writers’ Group in Germany, the Stanza II branch of the National Poetry Association in Oxford, England, and the Florence Writers’ Group in Italy – these wonderful people have been like family to me.

I’m currently finishing my memoir A Natural History of the Sky, a lyrical meditation on my experience of deportation from England and subsequent exile in Florence – and my pilgrimage from Canterbury Cathedral in England, across France, through the Alps, and Italy to the Vatican – a journey that saved my life.

At once dreamy, searing, and absurd, my memoir is inspired by the nature writing of Annie Dillard, the childlike, magical-realist work of French director Michel Gondry, the fabulist stories of Calvino, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (and countless Japanese philosophies such as wabi-sabi that worked their way into my blood during my six years living among the rice fields of rural Honshu) – as well as the prose of Rebecca Solnit, particularly her book A Field Guide to Getting Lost. 

I’m also currently working on a monograph of my husband Sean Quinn’s gender-fluid self-portrait photography.