Sabrina Canfield first fell in love with word structure and imagery in the early 1980s with The Children’s Garden of Verses. Not long after, she realized a passion for memorizing and retelling the fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. As the second child of four, Canfield honed her narrative craft with her nightly duty of telling stories to the youngest before bed. Her role as storyteller expanded when, while still young, her sibling count grew, first by an additional five stepsisters, and later with six more half siblings.
The daughter of an airline pilot with wanderlust and a mother with a literary bent who attended both undergrad and law school while raising four kids alone, Canfield acquired a taste for travel and a devotion to hard work. By the time she attended undergrad at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Canfield had lived in Montana, Arizona, Alaska, Washington State, Utah, and Prague. At Reed College, she studied Russian, led by a passion for the work of Dostoevskii and Tolstoy and a desire to read them in the original. For her senior thesis, Death in the Poetry of Gavril Derzhavin, she translated and critiqued the poet’s masterpieces, several of which were previously only available out of translation.
In 2005, still living in Portland, Canfield worked alongside the vice president of production at a Hollywood studio to adapt her first novella, Birds of Paradise (still unpublished), to a screenplay (still unreleased). But, for Canfield – as for multitudes of others – 2005 was a tumultuous year, and on 24-hour-notice in early 2006, Canfield picked up and moved to New Orleans. The impetus to move came at a deeply personal level, but Canfield was very fortunate to also have a job reporting for a newswire related to the legal ramifications of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2007, Canfield attended the opening statements of the African war lord Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial at The Hague. Since 2010, Canfield has reported extensively on the BP oil spill and litigation. An avid traveler and sometime-travel writer, Canfield has traveled all over the world, most recently to Kenya where she explored Nairobi and went on safari in the Masai Mara.
Her most recent novel, To the Place Where They Go, The Rivers Keep on Going, which is set in New Orleans post-Katrina, and the novella, Birds of Paradise, have been recognized during multiple years by the Faulkner Wisdom literary competition. Additionally, her essay, “Spring Sparks,” about a series of gunshots heard at the same time six Saturdays in a row outside Canfield’s Treme apartment that culminated with a shootout between the teenage assailant and the New Orleans police has also been recognized by the Wisdom Faulkner competition.
An article Canfield wrote at the height of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was chosen as an editor’s pick for oil spill coverage by the Poynter Institute’s NewsTrust in conjunction with the Long Now Foundation’s Energy News Hunt.
Canfield lives in New Orleans with her husband and baby son.