Dorene O’Brien

Adjunct Faculty Writing Services Unlimited
BA, Journalism, Wayne State University, 1996; BA, English, Wayne State University, 1996; MFA, Wayne State University, 1997

View some of Dorene O’Brien‘s work

Dorene O’Brien is a published poet, essayist, and short story writer with a wide array of research interests, from literary and science fiction genres to the topics of graffiti art and string theory. Her writing style tends toward realism and she is particularly interested in first-person fiction narratives and hybrid genres. Her current project is a contemporary literary sci-fi novel that explores many of society’s current concerns: pandemics, climate crises, accelerated mutations, political divides, and family trauma.

Professional Experience

Dorene O’Brien is a Detroit-based creative writing teacher, editor and writer whose stories have won the Red Rock Review Mark Twain Award for Short Fiction, the Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award, the New Millennium Writings Fiction Prize, the Wind Fiction Prize, and the international Bridport Prize. She is also an NEA, a Vermont Studio Center and a Hemingway-Pfeiffer creative writing fellow. In 2022, she was accepted into Rockvale Writer’s Colony for a month-long writing residency. Her work has been nominated for three Pushcart prizes, has been published in special Kindle editions, and has appeared in the Best of Carve magazine, Short Story Review, Baltimore Review, Madison Review, Chicago Tribune, the Republic of Letters, Southern Humanities Review, Detroit Noir and others. Voices of the Lost and Found, her first fiction collection won the USA Best Book Award for Short Fiction. Her fiction chapbook, Ovenbirds and Other Stories, won the Wordrunner Chapbook Prize in 2018. O’Brien’s second full-length collection, What It Might Feel Like to Hope, released in 2019, was named first runner-up in the Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Prize and won a gold medal in the 2019 Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY). She is currently working on a literary sci-fi novel.

Significant Publications, Presentations and Exhibitions

Published Books:

What It Might Feel Like to Hope, Baobab Press, 2018, 2019 Independent Publishers Book Award Gold Medalist in Short Fiction

Ovenbirds and Other Stories, Wordrunner, 2018 Wordrunner Chapbook Contest Award Winner

Voices of the Lost and Found, Wayne State University Press, 2007, 2008 Drake Emerging Writer Award Finalist and 2008 USA Book News Best Book Award

Selected Published Stories:

”Riding the Hubcap,” Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award Winner

”#12 Dagwood on Rye,” international Bridport Prize winner selected by author Jim Crace from among 4,000 entries

”Ovenbirds,” first place in two fiction contests, the New Millennium Writing Awards and Wind Fiction Prize

”He Came to Us” was selected as part of the international Telephone project

Select Presentations:

Maintaining Creative Motivation During COVID: A Little Too Quiet. Ferndale Library podcast, 2021

Rochester Writer’s Author Interview: What It Might Feel Like to Hope, 2020

Kickstart Art Farmington, The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Dorene O’Brien, 2020

All Write in Sin City podcast interview, 2020

Featured Reader at Living Room COVID Reading series, 2020

Ferndale Library Adult Storytime, 2020

Let’s Deconstruct a Story: Interview by Kelly Fordon in conjunction with the Grosse Pointe Library, 2020

Featured Reader at Midtown Detroit Literary Walk, 2019

Featured Reader at Mondays at the Maple Theater, 2019

Featured Reader at Brain Candy Bookstore, 2019

Featured Reader at Public Pool, 2019

Featured at CCS Faculty Show & Tell, 2018

Featured Reader at Brain Candy Bookstore, 2019

Featured Reader at Brain Candy Bookstore, 2019