Anna Clark

Journalism opens me up: I look, I listen, I ask, I think. I experience the world as a verb. There’s alchemy in fusing the power of language with tangible facts, and the act of trying to tell stories changes me, too. The classic reporter questions are really quite profound, when you think about them: Who? Where? What? When? How? Why?

2017 Excellence in Environmental Journalism award

Knight-wallace journalism fellow

Author image credit Philip Dattilo.jpg




The story of the Flint crisis is disturbing enough even if one knows only a few details. But the entire case, as laid out by Anna Clark, is enraging. Clark has sifted the layers of politics, history, and myopic policy to chronicle the human costs of this tragedy. Flint is not an outlier, it’s a parable – one whose implications matter not just to a single municipality but to every city in the country and all who live in them.
— Jelani Cobb
A compelling must-read about issues of environmental activism, urban issues, systemic racism, and the accountability of the government to the people it serves.
— Library Journal
Compelling… A comprehensive account [that] boils down this complex tragedy… While devastating, this account is also inspiring in its coverage of the role of Flint’s “lionhearted residents” and their grassroots activism, community organizing, and independent investigation in bringing the crisis to national attention and to the courts. This extremely informative work gives an authoritative account of a true American urban tragedy that still continues.
— Publishers Weekly

Anna Clark is a journalist living in Detroit. She is the author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy (Metropolitan Books, 2018), which was a finalist for the NYPL Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism, and was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in Elle Magazine, The New York Times, Politico, Next City, and other publications. She was a correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review as part of its United States Project for nearly five years.

Clark was part of the 2017 class Knight-Wallace journalism fellows at the University of Michigan. She edited A Detroit Anthology, a 2015 Michigan Notable Book, and she is the author of Michigan Literary Luminaries: From Elmore Leonard to Robert Hayden. She was a founding board member and applications director for Write A House through the time that it rehabilitated three vacant homes in Detroit and gave them away to writers, for free. She was also a writer-in-residence in Detroit high schools through InsideOut Literary Arts for four years, and the founder of Literary Detroit. She has been a longtime co-leader of an improv theater workshop at a men’s prison in Macomb County, Michigan.

When asked about what drew her to the story of Flint's water crisis, Clark said, "Part of what I think has been so discomfiting about the Flint crisis is that it’s threatened our sense of what the common good is. What is the purpose of a city at all? Why do we have a public sector? What are the limits of running these places like a business? What the Flint crisis has shown is how far we can chip away at that undergirding philosophy of the common good before it starts to cause mortal harm to people."

Clark was a Fulbright Fellow in Nairobi, Kenya, and she received the 2017 Excellence in Environmental Journalism award from the Great Lakes Environmental Law Council. Her writing was a “notable” pick in Best American Sports Writing 2012; a “best commentary” finalist from the 2015 Mirror Awards; and a 2016 first-place winner from SPJ-Detroit in online investigative reporting. She also serves as a contributing editor at Waxwing Literary Journal, where she especially likes to review literature in translation.

A graduate of the University of Michigan’s Residential College, she also holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, where she focused on fiction. She lives and works in Detroit.



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