Maxine Clair


Maxine Clair was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1950s. She is a poet, short story writer, and novelist. She attentded the University of Kansas in Lawrence where she studied science. Clair went on to a career in medical technology as chief technologist at a children's hospital in Washington, D.C. It was while workingthere that Clair became interested in writing. She pursued and achieved her M.F.A. at George Washington University where she is currently an associate professor of English. 

Her first book, a collection of poetry, Coping With Gravity, was published in 1988. In 1992 she published a fiction chapbook entitled October Brown, which earned her an Artscape Prize for Maryland Writers. Her next book, Rattlebone, was published in 1994 and is perhaps her most well-known work.  Rattlebone is a collection of interrelated stories revolving around the life of a young African-American girl coming of age in a small African-American neighborhood called Rattlebone, in Kansas City, Kansas. Clair got the name of her book from Rattlebone Hollow, a North Kansas City, Kansas, neighborhood. 

Her most recent work is October Suite, published in 2001. This novel takes a character from her chapbook October Brown and her novel Rattlebone and explores her life and experiences as an unwed teacher and African-American mother in the 1950s. The novel is a journey of self discovery for its lead character, October Brown, and was well received by critics.

Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)


Contributor to:

  • Icarus
  • Kenyon Review
  • Victoria
  • Callaloo
  • Story


Writing Samples


Social Media Accounts

Selected Works

Articles about the author's work


Edgar Wolfe Literary Award, Friends of the Library in Kansas City, Kansas, 1996.
Black Caucus Award for Fiction, American Library Association, Heartland Prize for Fiction, Chicago Tribune, and fiction award, Friends of American Literature for Rattlebone.
Artscape Prize for Coping With Gravity
Guggenheim fellowship


Item sets

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Title Alternate label Class
Coping with Gravity Author Book
October Suite Author Book
Rattlebone Author Book
Imagine This: Creating the Work You Love Author Book