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Kristen Iversen is an American writer of nonfiction and fiction, and the author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats (2012),[1] Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth and Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.

Kristen Iversen
Kristen Iversen, Author
Kristen Iversen, Author
BornDes Moines, Iowa, U.S.
OccupationWriter, professor
GenreNonfiction, Memoir, Fiction


Life and workEdit

Iversen was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up in Arvada, Colorado, near the Rocky Flats nuclear weaponry facility. She received a BA in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder and worked as a travel writer in Europe for several years before returning to the states to earn a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver.[2]

Iversen has taught at universities around the country, including the MFA programs at San Jose State University and Naropa University. She served as director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Memphis and as editor-in-chief of The Pinch, an award-winning literary journal. During the summers, she is on the faculty of the MFA Low-Residency Program at the University of New Orleans,[3] held in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is also a Faculty Mentor in the Mile High MFA program at Regis University. As of June 2015, Iversen teaches in the Ph.D. program in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati, where she also serves as Literary Nonfiction Editor of The Cincinnati Review and is a Fellow at the Taft Research Center. She also serves as Director of the Prose, Poetry, and Passion Seminar in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Iversen is the author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, a book of memoir and investigative journalism that traces her experience of growing up in a small Colorado community near Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated as “the most contaminated site in America.” She later worked at the plant herself.[4] Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats won the 2013 Colorado Book Award and the Reading the West Book Award in Nonfiction. It was also chosen one of the Best Books of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association, and 2012 Best Book about Justice by The Atlantic. The book was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. In 2012, an excerpt from Full Body Burden was published in the June 11th edition of The Nation.[5] Many universities have chosen Full Body Burden for their First Year Experience/Common Read programs. This book is being made into a documentary film: Full Body Burden, which is purported to come out January 2020.

Iversen also authored Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth a biography of Margaret Tobin Brown, known to history as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown.” The book won the Colorado Book Award for Biography and the Barbara Sudler Award for Nonfiction and formed the basis for seven television documentaries, including the A&E Biography Molly Brown: An American Legend, and a new edition was published in 2018. Her work has appeared in The New York Times,[6] The Guardian, The American Scholar, and many other publications.

Iversen is married and has two sons. She divides her time between Cincinnati and Westcliffe, Colorado.

Full Body Burden summaryEdit

Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats is a 2012 memoir fusing Iversen's personal story of growing up in Cold War America with the history of the former Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant near Denver, Colorado, once called by the Department of Energy “the most contaminated site in America.” [7]

From 1952 to 1989 there were many fires, leaks, and other mishaps at Rocky Flats. The area became severely contaminated, and little attention was paid to containment and environmental remediation. Carl J. Johnson, director of health between 1973 and 1981, led research into contamination levels and adverse effects on public health, until his employment was terminated. His research results were supported and confirmed by many subsequent studies.[8]


  • Full Body Burden: Growing up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats. Crown Publishing Group. 2012. ISBN 978-0-307-95563-0.[9]
  • Molly Brown: unraveling the myth. Big Earth Publishing. 1999. ISBN 978-1-55566-237-0.[10]
  • Shadow boxing: art and craft in creative nonfiction. Pearson/Prentice Hall. 2003. ISBN 978-0-13-099442-4.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kristen., Iversen,. Full body burden : growing up in the nuclear shadow of Rocky Flats. ISBN 0-307-95563-X. OCLC 753624502.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Faculty". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Guest Blog: Kristen Iversen". Lofty Ambitions Blog. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  5. ^ "The Dirty Secrets of Rocky Flats". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Fallout at a Former Nuclear Weapon Plant". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  7. ^ Gill, Leonard (22 September 2011). "Working It: Spotlight on Creative Nonfiction at the University of Memphis". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  8. ^ Kristen Iversen, "Nuclear Fallout", New York Times, March 10, 2012.
  9. ^ Kristen, Iversen (2012). Full Body Burden: Growing up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats (Cloth) (First ed.). Crown. p. 432 pp. ISBN 0-307-95563-X.
  10. ^ Kristen, Iversen (2010). Molly Brown: unraveling the myth (Cloth)|format= requires |url= (help) (10th ed.). Johnson Books. p. 320 pp. ISBN 1-55566-237-4.
  11. ^ Kristen, Iversen (2004). Shadow boxing: art and craft in creative nonfiction (Paper) (Second ed.). Longman. p. 304 pp. ISBN 0-307-95563-X.

External linksEdit