Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh

AU English instructor named writer-in-residence for Hemingway-Pfeifer Museum

Published on May 15, 2024
Ashland University

Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh, writer and Ashland University instructor, is obsessed with women left out of historical narratives.

“Paula McLain did such a beautiful job imagining us into the lives of Hadley and Martha, Hemingway’s first and third wives,” said Kelly-Harbaugh, a Cleveland resident who teaches 100-level English courses for AU, including to incarcerated students. “Maggie O’Farrell broke my heart spinning stories about Shakespeare’s wife and children. Even the musical ‘Six’ recently united the tales of Henry the VIII’s wives. Most of us don’t even realize those threads are missing from the history we’re taught.”

Kelly-Harbaugh hopes to learn more about Ernest Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, as the writer-in-residence in June at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center (HPMEC) in Piggott, Arkansas.

Pfeiffer was an American journalist and another overlooked woman in history, said Kelly-Harbaugh, who added that she looks forward to discovering how Pfeiffer’s life and legacy influenced her infamous husband.

“The residency will allow Kelly-Harbaugh the opportunity to live and work in the community of Piggott for a month, sharing her knowledge and experience with local writers and working on her own writings,” HPMEC Director Shannon Williams said in a story published on Talk Business & Politics, a news website that covers business, politics and culture across Arkansas.

According to HPMEC’s website, the mission of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center is to contribute to the regional, national and global understanding of the 1920s and 1930s eras by focusing on the internationally connected Pfeiffer family of Piggott in Northeast Arkansas, and their son-in-law, Hemingway.

The HPMEC, Arkansas State University’s first heritage site, opened in July 1999 in conjunction with the national celebration of Hemingway’s 100th birthday and includes a barn that was converted into a studio in the 1930s to give Hemingway privacy for writing when he visited Piggott.

Christian Kiefer, director of Ashland University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program (MFA), said HPMEC is very lucky to have Kelly-Harbaugh on board this June.

“Annmarie is one of the fiercest and best writers (the MFA) program has had the pleasure of working with,” Kiefer said. “I’m certain she’s taught me more than I have taught her.

“Now I wonder what she’ll write about in Hemingway’s old barn studio,” he added.

Being connected to writers from the Ashland MFA program who urge one another to submit to magazines, prizes and conferences helped her be selected as the HPMEC writer-in-residence, Kelly-Harbaugh said.

“We were coming up on our February check-in and I hadn’t sent out any writing,” she added. “I’ll disappoint myself, but I won’t let my friends down. So, I scanned that week’s deadlines and discovered the Hemingway-Pfeiffer opportunity.”

In addition to this latest opportunity, Kelly-Harbaugh also was recently named the 2024 Erma Bombeck and Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence in Dayton, Ohio, hosts a literary podcast about making the most of the time we have in our lives and has had many of her writings published, including a book “Here Be Dragons: A Parent’s Guide to Rediscovering Purpose, Adventure and the Unfathomable Joy of the Journey.”

“The book delighted me,” she said. “I wrote it with my husband. We’d draft late into the night and found so many new stories to argue and laugh about.”

Mostly, Kelly-Harbaugh, who is working on another book about all the truth in lies people tell, said she loves meeting people in the writing business.

“I’ve been fortunate to write with brilliant folks all around the world,” she said. “In 2022, the Ashland MFA hosted a week-long residency in Siena, Italy. That was a true mountaintop experience.

“And the stories keep coming,” she continued. “What a gift.”

Even though many students land in her AU English classes not because they truly long to take American literature or freshman composition, but because someone else handed them a list and declared her courses necessary, Kelly-Harbaugh said she loves working with them as much as she does with fellow writers.

“I take that as a source of motivation and a challenge, and I embrace my job as part cheerleader, part teacher, part mom, part taskmaster and part advocate,” she said.

“I’m a versatile instructor,” she added. “In addition to college courses, I’ve taught fiction classes for Cleveland Public Library, creative nonfiction for Literary Cleveland, memoir workshops for Lit Youngstown, language arts at various high schools, and participate in professional conferences and panels across the country.

“I’ve worked with students as young as 13 on up to 90-year-old retirees,” she continued. “I’m comfortable teaching undergrads, graduates and all types of continuing learners.”

Being a writer-in-residence next month in Arkansas will add to her versatility as an instructor and writer. The month-long experience includes being a mentor at a writers’ retreat June 17-21.