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Shannon Gibney

Biography

Shannon Gibney

From her website:

Shannon Gibney was born in 1975, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was adopted by Jim and Sue Gibney about five months later, and grew up with her two (biological) brothers, Jon and Ben.

Shannon has loved to read and to write as far back as she can remember. When she was in second grade, she started making “books” about her family’s camping trips, and later graduated to a series on three sibling detectives in fourth grade.When she was 15, her father gave her James Baldwin’s Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, a book that changed her life and made her see the possibilities of the written word. The novel took a long, difficult look at relations between Blacks and Whites, the poor and the rich, gay and straight people, and fused searing honesty with metaphorical beauty. After this experience, Shannon knew that she needed to read everything Baldwin had ever written, and also that she wanted to emulate his strategy of telling the most dangerous, and therefore liberating kind of truth, through writing.

High school was a time for tremendous growth for Shannon, as she had the opportunity to attend Community High, a place that nurtured independence and creativity. At Carnegie Mellon University, Shannon majored in Creative Writing and Spanish, graduating with highest honors in 1997. She was awarded their Alumni Study/Travel Award, and used it to travel to Ghana to collect information for a short story collection on relationships between African Americans and continental Africans.

At Indiana University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program, Shannon honed her understanding of the basic elements of story-writing. She was in Bloomington from 1999 to 2002, and earned an M.A. in 20th Century African American Literature, as well as her M.F.A. while she was there. As Indiana Review editor, she conceived of the literary journal’s first “Writers of Color” special issue, and brought it to fruition, also in 2002.

Shannon has called Minneapolis home since 2002. She moved there right after completing her graduate work at Indiana, and took a job at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the state’s oldest Black newspaper. A three-year stint as managing editor of this 75-year-old publication introduced Shannon to the vibrant, growing, and diverse Black community in the Twin Cities, and also gave her vital insight into the inner-workings of a weekly newspaper. When she left in 2005, Shannon had written well over 100 news and features stories for the paper.

The Bush Artist Fellows Program took Shannon’s daily life in a new direction. In 2005, she was awarded a grant, which allowed her to quit her job at the Spokesman, and devote most of her time to her creative work.

After completing her Bush fellowhip in summer 2007, Shannon joined the faculty in English at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) in the fall, and became Full-Time Unlimited (FTU) faculty there in 2009. Married in Accra, Ghana, in May, 2009, she lives with her husband, Ballah D. Corvah, their son Boisey, and daughter Marwein, in the Powderhorn neighborhood of South Minneapolis.

Shannon’s Young Adult (YA) novel SEE NO COLOR will be published by Carolrhoda Lab, a division of Lerner Publications, in November, 2015. She was also awarded a $25,000 2015 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers, administered by the Loft Literary Center. She is using the funds to complete a family memoir, tentatively titled LOVE ACROSS THE MIDDLE PASSAGE: MAKING AN AFRICAN/AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY.

Shannon Gibney

Books by Shannon Gibney

by Shannon Gibney - Family, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Racism, Young Adult 13+

In suburban Minneapolis, 17-year-old Kollie Flomo begins to crack under the strain of his life as a Liberian refugee. He's exhausted by being at once too black and not black enough for his African American peers and worn down by the expectations of his own Liberian family and community. When his frustration finally spills into violence and his parents send him back to Monrovia to reform school. Like Kollie, readers travel back to Liberia, but also back in time, to the early twentieth century and the point of view of Togar Somah, an 18-year-old indigenous Liberian on the run from government militias that would force him to work the plantations. When Togar's section draws to a shocking close, the novel jumps again, back to America in 1827, to the children of Yasmine Wright, who leave a Virginia plantation with their mother for Liberia, where they're promised freedom and a chance at self-determination by the American Colonization Society. The Wrights begin their section by fleeing the whip and by its close, they are then the ones who wield it. 

by Shannon Gibney - African American Interest, Fiction, Women's Studies

Despite some teasing, sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge found that being a biracial girl in a white family didn't make much of a difference as long as she was a star on the diamond. But now, things are changing: she meets Reggie, the first black guy who's wanted to get to know her; she discovers the letters from her biological father that her adoptive parents have kept from her; and her body starts to grow into a woman's, affecting her game. Alex begins to question who she really is. She's always dreamed of playing pro baseball just like her father, but can she really do it? Does she truly fit in with her white family? What does it mean to be black?