Poetry Judge

Michelle Bailat-Jones was born in Kagoshima, Japan and then raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States by a Scottish father and a Pennsylvania German mother. She’s lived mostly outside the US since 1999, studying and working in France and again on Kyushu, in Japan.

In 2005, she moved to Switzerland, where she is now a citizen and delighted to live in a country with four national languages. She speaks French and Japanese and is working very hard to add Italian to the mix.

Her first novel Fog Island Mountains won the Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction. The second novel, Unfurled, “creates a complex and nuanced portrait of a family torn apart by mental illness and of the rebuilding process, making this novel both fascinating and stirrin,g” and was a selected by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Read.

Her poetry has appeared in the Ann Arbor Review, Lunate, Funicular Magazine and the Atticus Review. Her full list of essays, poems, translations and other writing can be found here.

Ideas and questions around culture, language, migration, and geography inspire both her writing and her passion for translation.

In 2021 she received a Bourse de Création Littéraire (Creative Writing Grant) from the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia, for her current novel-in-progress. The first to be granted for a project written in English, in the context of their programme to celebrate Switzerland’s “fifth languages”.

Finally, she serves on the advisory board for Weiter Schreiben Schweiz/Ecrire la suite – Suisse, an organization that connects writers from conflict zones living in exile with writers in Switzerland to ensure that the vital work of writing continues.