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Jeanne Marie Laskas

Director of Writing Program
CL 517-H


Jeanne Marie Laskas is the author of six books. Her newest title is Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work (Putnam, 2012). This book investigates the unsung heroes who do the hands-on jobs that make America work—from coal miners to Alaska pipeline workers, beef farmers to shipping-port workers. They're people who remain virtually invisible to us, and yet we are utterly dependent on them. Hidden America has received numerous accolades and was chosen as a September 2012 "must read" book by

Her other books include Growing Girls (Bantam Dell, 2006), the award-winning The Exact Same Moon (Bantam Dell, 2003), and the book that started it all, the widely acclaimed Fifty Acres and a Poodle (Bantam Dell, 2000). For 14 years she was a regular columnist for The Washington Post Magazine, where her "Significant Others" essays appeared weekly and attracted a loyal following. Most of her magazine feature stories now appear in GQ, where she is a correspondent writing on everything from Iraq to plastic surgery. Formerly a contributing editor at Esquire, her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Best American Magazine Writing 2008 and Best American Sportswriting 2000, 2002, 2007 and 2008. Her earliest essays and features are compiled in the award-winning The Balloon Lady and Other People I Know (Duquesne, 1996). Jeanne Marie is also the voice behind "Ask Laskas" in Readers' Digest, where she dispenses wisdom with zero authority but plenty of common sense (her husband, Alexander Levy, is a shrink who generously helps.)

Jeanne Marie is a professor in and Director of the creative writing program at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives with her husband and two daughters at Sweetwater Farm in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania.


  • Read a spotlight piece about Jeanne Marie Laskas and her new book, Hidden America, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Read “Underworld,” which was a finalist for the National Magazine Award.
  • Read an interview from about the writing of “Underworld.”
  • Listen to Jeanne Marie Laskas on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Teaching and Writing

“Good writing comes from the truth you have to offer – you. If you’re not offering that, you’re just doing somebody else’s work. It sounds so Pollyanna but I do believe the best thing anybody in the arts has to offer is themselves.”

Revised 01/23/2015
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