Jess E. Jelsma was born in Louisiana and grew up in Alabama and Pennsylvania. She received a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.F.A in prose from the University of Alabama. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in English with a creative dissertation at the University of Cincinnati, where she works as an assistant editor for The Cincinnati Review. In the fall of 2018, she served as a co-instructor for The Fundamentals of Fiction Workshop at the Mercantile Library.
Her previous work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize anthology and awarded the University of Alabama's Don Hendrie Jr. Memorial Fiction Prize. In the summer of 2018, she was selected as a Tennessee Williams Scholar in Fiction for the Sewanee Writers' Conference. This August, she served as an artist in residence with Matt Jones for the Collaborative Retreat at the Cabin at Shotpouch Creek.
Her latest work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Arkansas International, CRAFT, Entropy, Flyway, The McNeese Review's Boudin, The Normal School, Pembroke Magazine, The Southern Review, and Quarterly West. Her craft specialities include narrative forms, digital storytelling, and documentation in fiction and memoir. Her scholarship centers on the intersection between race, disability, queer theory, and women's studies.
At present, she is at work on a linked short-story collection and a novel written in the form of a true-crime podcast.