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1997, MFA Writing (Fiction), Sarah Lawrence College

1994, BA English with Highest Honors in Creative Writing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Julia Ridley Smith is the author of The Sum of Trifles, a memoir in essays. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly ReviewEcotoneElectric Literature, the New England Review, and The Southern Review, among other publications, and her nonfiction was recognized as notable in The Best American Essays 2019. She’s been awarded scholarships, fellowships, and residencies by the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Millay Colony, the Cuttyhunk Island Residency, and the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities. After earning her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she worked for nearly twenty years as a freelance copyeditor of academic books. She’s taught creative writing and literature at UNC Greensboro, as well as art-based writing workshops for educators and other adults at the Weatherspoon Art Museum. She was the 2021-22 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

To read more, visit my website


  • The Sum of Trifles (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2021)
  • “Legs.” Ecotone, 2018. Selected as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2019.
  • “At the Arrowhead.” Southern Review, 2018.
  • “Damn It, Damn It, Damn It.” Alaska Quarterly Review, 2018.
  • “A Miniature for My Mother.” New England Review, 2017.


Cos Barnes Fellowship in Fiction, Weymouth Center, Southern Pines, NC, 2020. Regional Artist’s Grant, United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro, NC, 2011, 2016, 2020. Fellow, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sweet Briar, VA. 2002-2019. Crossfield Fellow, Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency, Cuttyhunk, MA, 2017. Tennessee Williams Scholar in Fiction, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, 2005. Residency, Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY, 2001.

Courses Taught:

  • ENGL 130: Introduction to Fiction Writing
  • ENGL 206: Intermediate Fiction Writing
  • ENGL 208: Reading and Writing Creative Nonfiction–Encounters with Art and Objects