March 25, 2019
NORTH ADAMS, MA—Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces this spring’s public policy lecture will be presented by bestselling author Sarah Smarsh at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, in the MCLA Church Street Center’s Eleanor Furst Roberts Auditorium.

Following the lecture, Smarsh will host a book-signing in the Founders Room of the MCLA Church Street Center, which is also open to the public. Books will be available there for purchase.

Smarsh, the author of New York Times bestseller “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth” is an educator, speaker, and journalist who focuses on socioeconomic class and rural America. Her book examines historic economic inequality and tells the story of her upbringing among the working poor on a Kansas farm.

“We are looking forward to hearing Sarah Smarsh speak about her work examining economic inequality and rural poverty,” said John DeRosa, administrator of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust. “I encourage the public to attend this event, which is deeply relevant to our community and to major trends in the United States in general.”

By ninth grade, Smarsh attended eight southern Kansas schools, ranging from a 2,000-student high school to a two-room prairie schoolhouse. She holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia, as well as degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas. Her book has been compared to Jeannette Walls’ bestselling memoir “The Glass Castle” and is a perfect companion to Barbara Ehrenreich’s iconic “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.” A former English professor and grantwriter for social service agencies, Smarsh aims for all of her work to have a backbone of civic responsibility.

Smarsh’s reportage and commentary have been published by The Guardian, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, and many other publications. Her essays on class and poverty, “Poor Teeth” and “The First Person on Mars,” were both listed as notables in Best American Essays. She recently published a four-part piece in No Depression about Dolly Parton and the working-class feminism found in country music. She is a regular commentator in national media and has spoken on poverty, politics, rural issues, cultural divides and the future of news. She was recently a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, and will soon launch a much-anticipated podcast about class and rural America.

As a fifth-generation Kansas farm kid, Smarsh is a long-time dancer of the country two-step, and she once won a nail-driving contest. She lives in Kansas.

In 2008, MCLA announced the establishment of the Public Policy lecture series, making public policy forums an ongoing part of the College's long-term speaker offerings, in complement to MCLA's major in political science and public policy.  The series is made possible through the generosity of the Ruth E. Proud Charitable Trust.

For more information, 413-662-5224, or go to

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.