Family: Born 1930 in Duluth, Minn., to Mildred and Russell McLean; married Robert Bly in 1955, and raised four children (Mary, Bridget, Noah and Micah) in rural Madison, Minn. Moved to St. Paul after the couple were divorced in 1980.

Education: Abbott Academy, Andover, Mass.; Wellesley (Mass.) College.

Career: Taught at the Universities of Minnesota and Iowa, Hamline University, Carleton College and Northland College (Ashland, Wis.) and at summer conferences across the country, including in Oregon, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Nebraska.

Publications: "Backbone" (Milkweed, 1985); "Letters from the Country" (Harper & Row, 1982); "Changing the Bully Who Rules the World" (Milkweed, 1996); "The Passionate Accurate Story" (Milkweed, 1998); "An Adolescent's Christmas: 1944" (Afton Historical Society, 2000); "My Lord Bag of Rice" (Milkweed, 2000); "Beyond the Writers' Workshop" (Anchor, 2001); "Shelter Half" (Holy Cow! June 2008). Also, with Cynthia Loveland: "Three Readings for Republicans and Democrats" (2003), "Stopping the Gallop to Empire" (2004), "A Shout to American Clergy" (2005) and "Against Workshopping Manuscripts" (2006).

Awards/honors: 2001 Minnesota Humanities Award for Literature, 1998-99 University of Minnesota Edelstein-Keller Distinguished Minnesota Author, 2000 Minnesota Women's Press Favorite Woman Author.