Judy Blunt spent more than 30 years on wheat and cattle ranches in northeastern Montana, before leaving that life to attend the University of Montana. Her book of poems, Not Quite Stone won the Merriam-Frontier Award, and was published in 1991. Her best-selling memoir, Breaking Clean, was published by A.A. Knopf in 2002 and met with wide critical acclaim.
Her essays explore the complexity of growing up a girl in cowboy country. She challenges the Hollywood mythology but honors the ranching community, paying tribute to a West few people know from the inside out. In her current research, she documents turn-of-the-century homesteaders’ narratives. These are the stories that showed generations how to live where the land doesn’t want you, the rules of behavior and expectation and hope handed down from mother to daughter like recipes, like old love letters.
Recognition of Blunt’s work includes a PEN/Jerard Fund Award for nonfiction, the 2001 Whiting Writers’ Award, 2003 Mountains and Plains Bookseller’s Award, Willa Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, and a 2004 National Endowment for the Arts writer’s fellowship. Blunt received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2005. She teaches creative nonfiction courses.