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I was born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1948 but grew up in Seattle.  I moved east to Rochester, New York when I was thirteen and later graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.  In 1971, I received my BA in literature and writing at the University of Arizona.

For the next decade I kicked around the West working as a land surveyor, bowling alley mechanic, sewer technician, road laborer, orchard grower, and mountain guide.  The survey work took me to Alaska in 1972 where I surveyed logging roads and staked mining claims on Prince of Wales Island east of Ketchikan.  Later I worked in Sitka and on Baranof Island. In the late 70's, I returned to guide and climb in the Alaska Range and in the more remote Wrangell-St. Elias Ranges.


I moved to Alaska in 1982 to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage and received an MFA in Poetry in 1986.  For 25 years while living in Alaska I taught college level creative writing workshops in poetry and nonfiction, and grammar, composition and literature courses at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

In 2009, I founded and still co-edit the literary journal Cirque. Our first 16 issues are available full-text on line at as well as print-on-demand hard copies.

I now live in Northern New Mexico and have been a practicing freelance editor since 2011 when I retired from a technical writing-editing career with the U.S. Department of the Interior.  Recent editing projects include: writing museum labels for the Alaska State Museum for a maritime and transportation exhibit, two 50 + page poetry manuscripts, a 400-page memoir, five full-length novels, a feasibility analysis, and a number of theses, dissertations, newsletters, and articles.

--Michael Burwell

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