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About Isak: The Extended Version

  • "The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea."

    There's truth in Isak Dinesen's words, and also romance. After all, one might suggest that food and shelter could also be useful on occasion.

    Dinesen, whose true name was Karen Blixen, was a Danish woman who operated a coffee farm in Kenya from 1914 to 1931. Her famed storytelling eventually emerged on paper. Out of Africa was her favorite of her many books "because it is true." But she was also a prolific writer of dark-edged tales--long, luxurious stories that rattle and creak and slant reality with unabashed verve.

    I don't mean to imply, by naming this website after her, that Isak will be a tribute site, or a research site, or a bio site. Rather, Isak is a space to celebrate tales and truth in the curious, loving way that embodies the spirit of the writer for which it is named.

    By tales, I mean fiction (especially short fiction), as well as other literary and artistic narratives. By truth, I mean the world in which we live. I especially have my eye on creative social justice.

    And I take the word "celebrating" in Isak's tagline seriously. The name "Isak," after all, means "laughter," as Dinesen was fond of pointing out. While there is so much to fear for in this world, and, dare I say, an equal amount to fear in the artistic world, it's impossible to ignore the causes for joy and hope.

    Let's explore them together.

    Welcome to Isak.


Anna Clark is an independent journalist living in Detroit. She writes reported news features, longform nonfiction, and book reviews, and she has an omnivorous range: she covers literature (especially international literature), culture, health, prisons, sports, and media. Her writing is a "notable" pick in Best American Sports Writing 2012. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, NBC News, POLITICO Magazine, Pacific Standard, The Guardian, The American Prospect, Salon, The Nation, Grantland, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Review, and other publications. She is a political media correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review as part of its United States Project, a contributing editor at Waxwing Literary Journal, and senior editor with Belt Books.

Anna is a former Fulbright Fellow in Kenya, where she focused on creative writing, and she has been a fellow with the Peter Jennings Center for Journalists and the Constitution. In 2012, she founded Literary Detroit. Anna is also a writer-in-residence in Detroit high schools through the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, and on Thursday evenings, she facilitates a theater workshop at a men's prison in Macomb County, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan's Residential College with highest honors, and from Warren Wilson College's MFA Program for Writers, where she practiced (and practiced...) fiction. Anna is a founding board member of Write A House and she edited A Detroit Anthology, published in summer 2014.

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If you are interested in submitting a book for review, if you would like to connect about speaking or facilitation opportunities, or if you simply want to say hello, please email Anna at annaleighclarkDOTgmailDOTcom