Anya Groner

Artistic Inaugural Writer Residencies
Type of work
Literary Artist

Anya Groner used her residency to continue work on a novel. Set in Louisiana between 1911-1927, the narrative follows Simone Walsh, an Irish-American teenager living in New Orleans who is diagnosed with leprosy and sent upriver to Carville, Louisiana, to live at Marine Hospital 66, the only leprosarium in the continental United States. She must stay here until her blood-work is disease-free for twelve consecutive months. With no cure, the diagnosis functions as a life sentence. Anya Groner’s essays and stories can be read in venues including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Oxford American, Ecotone, Guernica, and Longreads. She’s been awarded scholarships and grants from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Sewanee Writers Conference, and the Louisiana Board of Regents

“For almost four years now I’ve occupied the imagined world of my novel—Some Bright Morning—getting inside the heads of the patients, nuns, and staff who ran Marine Hospital 66 between 1907-1927, but this past week, I inhabited my novel in a whole new way. The actual location of the only leprosarium in the continental United States, where my novel is set, is about 40 miles upriver… but because that land is now a military barracks, it’s illegal to wander the property. Until now, my knowledge of setting has come primarily from letters and memoirs left by the patients. Because of David Baker’s extraordinary conservation work, the 7.5 acres that constitute A Studio in the Woods’ bottomland hardwood forest resembles the flora of the early decades of the old leprosarium. From the desk in the studio, I looked out on the forest, watching buzzards roost on bony snags and realized that the species was missing from my own novel. Rest assured, buzzards now populate my pages.” – Anya Groner