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Work Samples


"Five Bathrooms and an Outhouse," selected as a Notable Essay for Best American Essays 2016, first appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Creative Nonfiction
PDF icon Puhak_5Bathrooms.pdf

Guinvere in Baltimore Poems.pdf

"Waiting Out an Election," a poem from GUINEVERE IN BALTIMORE (Waywiser 2013)
PDF icon Guinvere in Baltimore Poems.pdf


About Shelley

Shelley Puhak is a writer who was born and raised in Maryland. The city of Baltimore figures prominently in Puhak's work. Her poems often use Baltimore city landmarks as an intersection for exploring power and complicity in modern American life. Her nonfiction has tackled the floods in Ellicott City, Baltimore's long history of rioting, and Johns Hopkins' secret dealings in the slave trade.  Puhak's essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Creative Nonfiction, The Iowa Review, ... more

Essays, Baltimore

Puhak's essay about Baltimore have tackled the devastating floods in Ellicott City, Baltimore's long history of rioting, and Johns Hopkins' secret dealings in the slave trade. These samples have been published in: (17 May 2015): “The ghosts of Baltimore.”

The Weeklings (28 August 2015): “A Tale of Complicity in the City of Freddie Gray.”
The Weeklings (10 August 2016): “Writing an Elegy for Ellicott City While Reading T.S. Eliot

Creative Nonfiction

The following essays appeared in print in 2015-2016 and detail Puhak's search for her roots and tackle the themes of immigration, motherhood, and inherited trauma.

Black Warrior Review 42.2 (Spring 2016): “Eva, she kill her one daughter.”

Creative Nonfiction (Winter 2015): :Five Bathrooms and an Outhouse."
Columbia 54 (Spring 2016): “Detained.”

Guinevere in Baltimore

GUINEVERE IN BALTIMORE was selected by former Poet Laureate Charles Simic for the 8th annual Anthony Hecht Prize. The collection has received lots of hometown love, including great reviews in CityPaper and jmww, an article in Baltimore Magazine, and the title of Best Poet in City Paper’s 2014 “Best of Baltimore.” The collection transports the classic Arthurian love triangle to contemporary Baltimore. Guinevere and Lancelot navigate their doomed affair against a backdrop of Baltimore landmarks: Fort McHenry, the Bromo Seltzer Tower, Walters Art Musuem, and Fells Point wharves. The pair examine love in all of its chemical, biological, political, and technological dimensions, ultimately asking readers to examine our own infidelities to our ideals.

Stalin in Aruba

Puhak's first poetry book, Stalin in Aruba, is a hybrid of poetry and historical fiction inhabited by dictators and daughters, Politburo wives and Nazi mistresses. By drawing upon a wealth of personal artifacts left behind by Stalin’s inner circle and combining meticulous research and imaginative truths, Stalin in Aruba explores how we resist and how we succumb to the banality of evil.

Stalin in Aruba was awarded the 2010 Towson Prize for Literature.

Connect with Shelley

Shelley's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.