Carolyn Hembree

Assistant Professor (Poetry)Carolyn Henbree


Phone: 504-280-6491
Website: www.carolynhembree


Education Background:
MFA, University of Arizona

Carolyn Hembree was born to foreign language professors in the twin city of Bristol, Tennessee. The family later settled in Birmingham, Alabama. Following her graduation from Birmingham-Southern College, Carolyn moved to New York by way of Greenville, South Carolina. During these lean years, she found employment as a cashier, housecleaner, cosmetics consultant, telecommunicator, actor, receptionist, paralegal, and freelance writer. She least enjoyed her brief post in a hotel basement where she alphabetized business cards next to a ten-pound bag of defrosting chicken parts. Like so many stars, Carolyn burned too brightly: her film debut was, alas, her swan song. For the NYU student flick Altered States, the aspiring actor, an albino boa constrictor draping her shoulders, spun in the February rain atop a roof in Alphabet City. On a train ride from Emily Dickinson's Amherst, she decided to pursue the less perilous vocation of poetry. 

Carolyn received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. During her time in the desert, she studied with poets Jon Anderson, Barbara Cully, Jane Miller, and Steve Orlen. A Dean of Humanities Fellow, Carolyn was granted instructor rank. She taught composition and creative writing to undergraduates. She also served as Poetry Editor for Sonora Review, the university's literary journal.

In 2001, Carolyn and husband Jonathan Padgett moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. She soon joined the faculty of UNO. A regular visitor to Lusher High, Carolyn enjoys her role as a teaching artist in the New Orleans community. She also volunteers for the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Her first poetry collection, Skinny, a finalist for five national book awards, was published by Kore Press in 2012. Carolyn has received a $5000 Fellowship Award in Literature from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, as well as grants from PEN, Southern Arts Federation, and Change, Inc. Her writing has appeared in over forty national journals and anthologies, including Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, Jacket2, jubilat, and Poetry Daily. Carolyn serves as Poetry Editor of Bayou.In her free time, Carolyn likes to tend her succulent garden, practice yoga and karate, and hang out with her husband Jonathan, daughter Mamie, and their rescue pets, Sissy Sappho Belle, Wylean "Big Country," and Amiga.