Elyssa East received her B.A. in art history from Reed College and her M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town, Elyssa’s first book, won the 2010 L. L. Winship/P.E.N. New England Award in non-fiction. A Boston Globe Bestseller, Dogtown is an Editors’ Choice selection from The New York Times Book Review and was named a “Must-Read Book” by the Massachusetts Book Awards. Michael Koryta selected Dogtown for Entertainment Weekly's 2010 "You've Gotta Read This" list. Elyssa’s writing has also been published in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, The Kansas City Star, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Al Jazeera America, and on the Poetry Foundation's website. Her short fiction is anthologized in Cape Cod Noir and USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir: USA Noir. A scene from her opera libretto, Mr. Hawthorne’s Engagement, which tells the true story of Nathaniel Hawthorne's simultaneous secret engagements to two sisters, Sophia and Elizabeth Peabody, was performed with American Opera Project’s Composers and the Voice series. She is currently working on a novel.
Before publishing Dogtown, Elyssa created Columbia University’s Artists’ Resource Center and ran KGB Bar’s Columbia University Faculty Selects Reading Series. She has also worked as a baker, an archaeologist’s assistant, a ballet school dorm parent, a nonfiction reviews editor at Publisher’s Weekly, the Managing Director of the Maine Summer Dramatic Institute, and the Executive Producer of Shakespeare in Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Maine. Elyssa is an alumna of The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and has received awards and fellowships from The Corporation of Yaddo; the Ragdale, Jerome, and Ludwig Vogelstein Foundations; the University of Connecticut; the Phillips Library; and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She has taught Creative Writing at Rhode Island School of Design, SUNY Purchase and Cleveland State University and currently teaches at Columbia University. She grew up in Georgia and lives in New York City with her husband and son.