Anna Clark is a journalist in Detroit. She is the author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy, which was named one of the year’s best books by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, Audible, Amazon, the New York Public Library, and others. It is the winner of the Hillman Prize in Book Journalism and the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award.
Anna’s writing has appeared in Elle, the New York Times, Politico, the Columbia Journalism Review, Next City, and other places. She has been a Fulbright fellow in Nairobi, Kenya, and a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan. She received the Excellence in Environmental Journalism award from the Great Lakes Environmental Law Council.
The Poisoned City is also a Michigan Notable Book. It won a State History Award, it was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and it was also a finalist for the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. Anna edited A Detroit Anthology, another Michigan Notable Book. She wrote a small book on the literary culture of the Third Coast called Michigan Literary Luminaries: From Elmore Leonard to Robert Hayden. Her journalism has been a “notable” pick in Best American Sports Writing 2012; a “best commentary” finalist from the Mirror Awards; and a first-place winner from SPJ-Detroit for online investigative reporting. She is also a contributing editor at Waxwing Literary Journal, where she especially likes to review literature in translation.
Anna co-curates the Motor Signal Reading Series in Detroit’s Eastern Market, which jolts the literary reading out of its traditional format, and she’s been a longtime co-leader of an improv theater workshop at a men’s prison in Macomb County, Michigan. She was a founding board member and applications director for Write A House through the time that it rehabilitated three longtime vacant homes in Detroit and gave them away to writers, for free and for keeps. She was also a writer-in-residence in Detroit high schools through InsideOut Literary Arts.
Anna graduated from the University of Michigan’s Residential College with highest honors, double majoring in art history and creative writing & literature, and minoring in crime & justice. She also graduated from Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, where she focused on fiction.
Anna grew up in St. Joseph, Michigan, a little town on Lake Michigan. She wrote about it here. For a few years, after college and before moving to Detroit, Anna lived and worked in Boston in an intentional community—kind of like an urban commune—called Haley House. For more than fifty years, the live-in community at Haley House has been grounded in the active work of simplicity, creative nonviolence, self-governance, community, and social justice, especially as it relates to poverty and economic inequity. There is also a lot of laughter.
Sometimes, Anna likes to do things that involve neither writing nor reading nor asking people questions. These things include running, hiking, bike-riding, cheering for Detroit and University of Michigan sports, going to see fun shows (comedy, movies, theater, music), playing games with her nieces and nephews (or anyone, really), and generally wandering around.