Skip to content



what happened was coverWhich Classes?
What Happened Was: is a superb addition for classes in creative writing, poetry writing, literature, gender studies, and American history. While poetry students working toward cohesive manuscripts may be especially interested in What Happened Was: as a reference point, undergraduates in gender studies will recognize that the personal is political, and vice versa.

Overview of What Happened Was:
Written in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in the Supreme Court confirmation hearing and steeped in the memory of Anita Hill’s testimony thirty years ago, What Happened Was: explores the cumulative effect of what women have been told is not that bad. The title series of What Happened Was: includes ten poems; each uses seven repetitions of “what happened was” to tell its story. The chapbook begins with the poet’s mother, who was told by the law school dean that she could not attend classes while pregnant. Other poems elucidate the poet’s own experiences of mismatched assumptions and sexual harassment in college and in the workplace, in the context of history and in the present moment. What Happened Was: speaks up and speaks back, “still teeming with syllables left to spill.”



Teaching What Happened Was: Pocono Community

Teaching What Happened Was: Creative Writing & Poetry Writing
Teaching What Happened Was: Gender Studies
Teaching What Happened Was: American History


If you’re teaching What Happened Was:, Anna Leahy will waive her fee for a virtual visit to your class, schedule permitting. Plus, she’ll tailor the visit to match your course’s focus with her expertise in creative writing, gender studies, literature, history, or science. She’s adept at working with graduate and undergraduate creative writing students, visiting courses from cancer biology and to first-year foundations, speaking with community groups of varying ages, and giving public readings. Even if you’re not teaching one of her books, she is happy to discuss a possible class visit, reading, or other event. Over the years, she’s taught formally at universities, community colleges, and correctional facilities as well as in informal learning environments. Use the Contact form to get in touch.


Anna Leahy directs the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chapman University, where she edits TAB: The Journal of Poetry & PoeticsAnna is available to teach workshops and visit classes.

Join Creative Writing Pedagogy on Facebook, founded and moderated by Anna Leahy and Stephanie Vanderslice. The group includes more than 5000 members.

book cover for what we talk about when we talk about creative writing
book cover for power and identity in the creative writing classroom

Anna is a leader in creative writing pedagogy. Her book Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom launched the New Writing Viewpoints series, and What We Talk about When We Talk about Creative Writing celebrates the series’ 10th anniversary.

BUY THESE BOOKS at Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Multilingual Matters.

She contributed chapters to many books about teaching and the profession.

Anna’s articles about pedagogy and the profession also appear in places like The Huffington Post, Fiction Writers Review, Mid-American Review, and Inside Higher Ed.