One cultural story we tell is that we are in control of our bodies, and this, too, is impossible. We are, rather, a sort of middle management. Meaning: The body is going to do what the body is going to do, and it is better if we think it is our idea. Or: to control the body guarantees eventual backlash. Or: the trick is catching the signs, early on, of what the body wants. To get out in front of it. To know what a body is.
— Katherine E. Standefer, "Animalis: References For a Body, One Winter"

Katherine E. Standefer writes about the body, consent, and medical technology from Tucson, Arizona. Her debut book Lightning Flowers is forthcoming from Little, Brown, and Company in early 2020. Winner of the 2015 Iowa Review Award in Nonfiction, her essay "In Praise of Contempt" appears in Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen and Robert Atwan, and her essay "Wilderness" was selected as Notable in Best American Essays 2017. Her other work has been published in or is forthcoming from The Normal School, Fourth Genre, The Iowa Review, The Colorado Review, Cutbank, The Indiana Review, Fugue, Camas, High Country News, Edible Baja Arizona,, The Essay Daily, Lithub, and The Rumpus. Her essay "Shock to the Heart, Or: A Primer on the Practical Applications of Electricity" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

She earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of Arizona, where she will teach ENG 301: Intermediate Creative Nonfiction Writing as a Lecturer in Spring 2018. She has taught Narrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and The Examined Life Conference at University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine. Standefer is a fall 2017 Marion Weber Healing Arts Fellow at The Mesa Refuge in Point Reyes, California.

She is an American College of Sexologists Certified Sexologist and an Arizona Humanities Scholar, recently a nominated as one of Arizona's Humanities Rising Stars and a finalist for the Tucson's Woman of Influence Award in Arts/Culture 2017.

Originally from outside Chicago, Standefer has spent the last fifteen years between Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona.  She earned a B.A. in Sociology and a B.A. in English- Fiction Writing from The Colorado College, where she was awarded the Colorado College Award in Literature, the Bridges Prize in Poetry,  and the Reville Prize for Fiction. She took third place in the 2006 Playboy College Fiction Contest. 

Her book Lightning Flowers traces the global supply chain of her internal cardiac defibrillator, considering whether her lifesaving device could have caused loss of life elsewhere. Research for the book has been supported by a University of Arizona Writing Program Fellowship and by a 2014 Kickstarter project , which enabled primary source research on mining and corporate social responsibility on the island of Madagascar. 

Her manuscript Strange Gifts of the Body: A Sexual Reckoning is a sexual autobiography that unfolds in the intersection between sex, self, and culture, asking what it means to be both animal and human. 

Standefer is represented by Bonnie Nadell of Hill Nadell Literary Agency.

Over the last fourteen years, Standefer has worked with thousands of students as a sexual health educator, global mentor, outdoor educator,  writer-in-residence, freelance editor, and college instructor. She is an award-winning composition and creative writing teacher, and works from a trauma-informed and sex-positive framework. As she turns her attention to completing her first book (now under contract), she is not currently accepting new creative coaching clients or individual manuscript readings.

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Literary Publications


  • "In Praise of Contempt" appears in The Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen and Robert Atwan.

  • "Kati Standefer on the Mysterious Leslie Ryan and the Structure of a Trauma Narrative" appears in How We Speak To One Another: An Essay Daily Reader, edited by Ander Monson and Craig Reinbold, out from Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, MN, February 2017.

  • "Shock to the Heart, Or: A Primer on the Practical Applications of Electricity" will be included Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays, edited by Stephanie G'Schwind, forthcoming from the Center for Literary Publishing, Fort Collins, CO, May 2017.


Writing about Writing

Writing Awards

  • How We Speak to One Another: An Essay Daily Reader winner of the New Mexico/ Arizona Book Award for Best Anthology. Fall 2017.
  • "Wilderness" selected as Notable essay in Best American Essays 2017 (ed. Leslie Jamison and Robert Atwan).
  • Marion Weber Healing Arts Fellow, The Mesa Refuge, Fall 2017.
  • Finalist for Breadloaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellowship, May 2017.
  • Finalist for The Pinch Journal's 2017 Literary Award in Nonfiction ("Hallelujah the Blind Gifts").
  • "In Praise of Contempt" selected for inclusion in Best American Essays 2016 (ed. Jonathan Franzen and Robert Atwan).
  • Nominated for The Pushcart Prize ("Shock to the Heart, Or: A Primer On the Primary Applications of Electricity," The Colorado Review) 2016.
  • Finalist in Creative Nonfiction, Tucson Festival of Books 2016 Prizes ("The Taste of Lavender"), February 2016.
  • Winner, The Iowa Review Award in Nonfiction ("In Praise of Contempt"). May 2015.
  • Finalist, The Masters Review Anthology IV ("Wilderness"). April 2015.
  • Finalist, Eddy Award for Best Story: Gardening ("The Revolution Requires Cover Crops" 3/14), Edible Communities, March 2015.
  • Finalist in Creative Nonfiction, Tucson Festival of Books 2015 Prizes ("Wilderness"), January 2015.
  • University of Arizona Foundation Award in Creative Nonfiction ("Shock to the Heart, Or: A Primer On the Practical Applications of Electricity"), December 2013.
  • Semi-finalist in Creative Nonfiction, Tucson Festival of Books 2014 Prizes ("Clearcut"), January 2013.
  • Finalist, Orlando Prize in Nonfiction ("Dear Husband"), A Room of Her Own Foundation, March 2013.
  • Honorable Mention, Fifty Shades of Smut Valentine's Day Erotica Contest, Tucson Weekly, February 2013.
  • First Place, Jackson Hole Writer's Conference Flash Fiction Contest ("Stealthwalkers"), May 2009.
  • Reville Prize for Fiction ("Moment for Tanagers"), Colorado College, May 2007.
  • Third Place, Playboy College Fiction Contest ("Seed"), May 2006.
  • Second Place, Arapahoe Community College Fiction Contest ("Seed"), May 2006.
  • Bridges Award in Poetry ("Tailings"), Colorado College, May 2006.
  • Honorable Mention, Associated Colleges of the Midwest Nick Adams Short Story Contest ("Seed"), May 2005.


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