About Kathleen


Kathleen Witkowska Tarr is the author of We Are All Poets Here (VP&D House, 2018), part-memoir, part-biography, involving the famous spiritual writer and thinker, the Trappist monk Thomas Merton.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, she has lived in Alaska since 1978—first in the rural Tlingit Indian community of Yakutat on the isolated North Pacific Coast; in Sitka, the former capital of Russian-America; in Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula; and in Anchorage.

Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications—literary journals, magazines, newspapers, blogs and anthologies. In her writing Kathleen has explored Alaska life, Eastern European and Russian history, arts & culture, the natural world, food, travel, and spirituality.

Kathleen is a contributor to the anthology, We Are Already One, 1915-2015, Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope (Fons Vitae Press, Louisville, 2015) in honor of Thomas Merton’s centenary. Her work has also appeared in the anthology, Merton & The World’s Indigenous Wisdom (2019), edited by Dr. Peter Savastano, Seton Hall University.

She has been named a William Shannon Fellow of the International Thomas Merton Society. Kathleen was one of six writers selected as a Mullin Scholar at USC’s Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies (2013-2015).  She is also been named a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Kathleen has taught creative writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage and regularly teaches community creative writing seminars and webinars.

From 2007-2011, she served as the founding Program Coordinator of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing.

She earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 where she was also awarded a full, three-year teaching fellowship.

Under appointment by Alaska’s Governor, Bill Walker, Kathleen was selected to serve in a public seat on the board of directors of the Alaska Humanities Forum (2017-2020).

Off the page, Kathleen takes to the outdoors as much as possible through hiking, birding, and gardening. Her personal interests include photography, cinematic arts, all genres of music, and traveling off-the-beaten path. Since 1990, she has made over ten trips to Russia, including traveling down the Volga River from St. Petersburg to Moscow. She has visited and/or worked in Chuvashia, in Siberia, and in the Russian Far East cities of Vladivostok, Yuhzno-Sakhalinsk,  Khabarovsk, and Magadan. For most of 2014, she lived in the Kazimierz district of Krakow, Poland. She subsequently returned to Poland in autumn 2019 where she spoke at the University of Silesia (Katowice), and also visited Lithuania.

She makes her home in Anchorage, under the Chugach Mountains.