Leigh Ann Ruggiero
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Leigh Ann grew up in a centenarian farmhouse with Lake Erie on one side and a vineyard of Concord grapes on the other.
After an out-of-control brush fire cleared the backyard, she ranged the scorched grass, talking out stories that not infrequently featured My Little Ponies.
She cared about language even then. Before song lyrics were a click away on the internet, Leigh Ann and her mother used to watch VHSs of old musicals, pressing rewind over and over until they had gathered all the words.
She learned the language of evangelicalism in a church her grandfather built. That language soon soured in her mouth, like Communion grape juice gone bad, and was supplanted by the raw language of the Lake Effect punk scene.
Wheaton College, where Leigh Ann studied English, showed her the many dialects of American Christianity. She found all of them fascinating, but few of them persuasive. At the University of Maryland, she studied fiction writing and met her partner, who spirited her away to Montana.
Ten years later Leigh Ann is an Assistant Professor of English at Montana State University-Billings, where she teaches writing, literature, and film. She writes in the interim between grading marathons and pub quizzes.