Before moving to Los Angeles over a decade ago, writer, poet, educator and director Kirsten Ogden spent her early childhood running the gravel roads in Baywood Louisiana before moving to Hawai'i at age 5, then San Francisco in her teens, and Alaska in her twenties, while spending many of her summers in rural southeast Louisiana with her father and his family.
Kirsten's identity was highly influenced by this multi-cultural bi-coastal and island living. As a child in Hawai'i she was one of a few haoles in her school and often felt shame at her "whiteness" as she witnessed the injustices around her. She learned pidgin and surfed the waves while the Hawaiian sovereignity movement pushed for political recognition. Witnessing these political protests and often participating with her politically-conscious, feminist mother made a deep impression. Her family moved to San Francisco and the Bay Area in her early teens and she had to relearn "standard American English" by taking theater and speech courses to "lose the pidgin". Her time in San Francisco and the Bay Area was just at the start of the AIDS crisis and the height of homelessness consciousness raising. Kirsten often went on home visits with her mom, who volunteered to assist and care for AIDS patients, and Kirsten later worked with the Aids Memorial Quilt and often ditched school to protest in the streets of San Francisco with Act Up! Her cousin was an early casualty of AIDS and the cause has remained close to her heart ever since,often finding its way into her writing and directing projects.
As a young feminist, a poet, and political consciousness raiser, Kirsten often found herself at odds with the rich and beautiful culture of her Southern family and the realities of racism.
As an educator, she cares deeply about social equity and culturally affirming teaching practices. As a first-generation college student, she understands well the challenges that her students face every day as they work hard to achieve their dreams.
She holds the Phd from Louisiana State University and an MFA from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Her BA from San Francisco State University is in Therapy Through Creative Self Expression. She's studied acting and improvisation with the American Conservatory Theater Academy and the Actor's Boot Camp, and screenwriting with Writer's Boot Camp in Santa Monica. She spent two years teaching with the Teach for America program in South Central, Los Angeles and currently teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. In the summers she teaches in the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshops in Gambier. Ohio.
Kirsten currently lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and directs the literary magazine pccinscape.com