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About Thea Gavin

Thea at Bright Angel Trail

Brief Bio:

A native of Orange, CA—where she roams and writes about her local wildlands—Thea Gavin is a high school dropout turned creative writing professor who in retirement continues to enjoy encouraging writers (but without having to assign grades). Her nature-themed poems and essays have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies. A barefoot blogger since 2010, she eschews shoes.

Less-brief Bio:

A teen mom and high school dropout, Thea Gavin writes from Orange, CA, the hometown she always longed to leave.

After marrying Steve (aka Baby Daddy), muddling through raising their three children and building a house together, Thea went to college and then spent twenty years pursuing a teaching career that required assigning grades to other people’s creative work. She was happy to retire in 2017 to help take care of their seventh grandchild, Mr. B.

Also upon retirement, Thea started a group called Write Night where the only point was (and continues to be) to write for enjoyment, surprise, and laughs in community with others—all non-lucrative but super-satisfying reasons to string words together.

Now Mr. B is in school and it’s time for new chapters, metaphorically and literally. (You literally just read the correct use of literally.)

Whether it’s revising her current children’s novel, working on the next novel, or creating more poems and essays, Thea aims to write her way toward making people laugh along with (or at?) her unplanned life of unseemly mistakes and unintended triumphs (with any/all successes courtesy of the new-each-morning grace of God).

She continues to wander barefoot, write, and encourage other writers via her poems, essays, workshops and presentations. Her nature-themed work has appeared in a variety of journals (Rattle, The Formalist, The Evansville Review, and others) and anthologies, including Manifest West: Eccentricities of Geography; New Poets of the American West; Campfire Stories Volume II: Tales from America’s National Parks and Trails; Fire and Rain: California Ecopoetry; Going Down Grand: Poems from the Canyon; and On Foot: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories. She began writing her Barefoot Wandering and Writing blog in 2010. She and Steve are fast approaching their 50th wedding anniversary.

TMI Bio:

Youngest of seven children.

Parents were a little too busy to pay attention to her extracurricular activities.

Became a parent herself at age 16 (and 18, and 22).

Earned college degrees at ages 34, 36, 38, and 46. (AA, BA, MA, MFA)

Now approaching an unimagined milestone: a 50th wedding anniversary with Baby Daddy (who turned out to be a pretty good guy to spend 50 years with).

Has undergone way too many family caregiving experiences for someone who is allergic to responsibility.

Learned (and re-learning), that life will always be full of *stuff* but a little encouragement and a lot of God’s grace can make all the difference during tough times.

Thus this web site, devoted to positive writing vibes, tips, and prompts.

Other areas of expertise Thea writes about (and relates to the writing life) in her monthly newsletter:

  • being selected National Park Service Artist-in-Residence at Grand Canyon’s North Rim
  • hiking across Grand Canyon multiple times barefoot
  • getting certified as Wilderness First Responder and Certified Interpretive Guide at age 55
  • helping wounded and weary hikers haul themselves out of Grand Canyon
  • publishing poems and essays in a wide variety of journals and anthologies (and even in an exhibit at the Museum of Northern Arizona: Grand Muse, 2016-17)
  • founding Write Night (in person in 2017, now online since March 2020)
  • founding the Heritage Garden at Concordia University Irvine in 2014 (a native plant habitat restoration integrated into a community fruit/vegetable garden)
  • speaking on topics such as poetry, Grand Canyon, ecosystem gardening, and living the “unplanned life”
  • leading outdoor writing workshops both in local wildlands as well as places such as Grand Canyon and Mojave National Preserve
  • starting college at age 30 and going on to earn a Santa Ana College AA, Concordia University Irvine BA (English, summa cum laude), Cal State Fullerton MA in teaching writing, and Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing MFA in poetry
  • solving family history mysteries as an amateur DNA detective
  • trail running/hiking/backpacking without shoes since 2010
  • neuroplasticity (aka learning to play the banjo during—and since—the pandemic)
  • surviving being set on fire in 2022 via a tossed cupful of burning gasoline by someone who should have known better (his initials are Baby Daddy) (read about this here)

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