Pat Schneider

1934 –

Pat Schneider, a poet, teacher, and prose writer, was born Patricia Vought on June 1, 1934, near the Ozark Mountains. She was raised in St. Louis but moved into an orphanage at age ten due to her single mother’s difficulties with raising a child in poverty. Schneider later earned a scholarship from a church to study at Central Methodist University where she earned a BA in English literature. She went on to earn an MA in religion and the arts from the Pacific School of Religion and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

Schneider is the author of ten books of poetry and nonfiction, as well as both plays that have been shown in three hundred productions and libretti, such as The Lament of Michal, which was performed at Carnegie Hall. Her poetry collections include The Weight of Love (Negative Capability Press, 2019); Another River: New and Selected Poems (Amherst Writers and Artists Press, 2005); and Long Way Home (Amherst Writers and Artists Press, 1993). Her prose works include How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice (Oxford University Press, 2013); Writing Alone and with Others (Oxford University Press, 2003); and Wake Up Laughing: A Spiritual Autobiography (Negative Capability Press, 1997).

Schneider founded the the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) program in 1981 and served as its director until 2011. She then served as director emerita until her death. AWA is now an international network of literary workshop leaders. Schneider was an adjunct faculty member at Smith College School of Social Work and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She taught creative writing workshops at the University of Massachusetts and in both Sligo and Dublin, Ireland. She was the playwright in residence at the Pacific School of Religion. The 1992 film Tell Me Something I Won’t Forget, about the Chicopee Writers Workshop in Chicopee, Massachusetts, chronicled Schneider’s work with low-income women. 

Schneider died on August 10, 2020, in Amherst, Massachusetts.