Carla Hagen was born in Baudette, Minnesota, a little town perched on the Canadian border. The land is covered with forests, water and peat bogs, the landscape for much of her writing, including her first novel, Hand Me Down My Walking Cane.
Carla’s early exposure to French and Norwegian led her to study French and Spanish at St. Cloud State University. In 1971, she went to Mexico City for a six-week course and stayed for about four years. Carla studied Spanish language, literature and linguistics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She also wrote articles — in Spanish as Carla Rimada, a pseudonym that hid the fact she was a gringa — for the weekly magazine, Mañana.
Carla continued her graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas, and published poetry in Punto de Partida (UNAM) and Meridiano (University of Texas). She also wrote for The Austin Sun, the monthly Austin Magazine and La Fuerza. Carla also partcipated in a modern dance troupe, CrossCulture.
A PASSION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
In 1979, Carla received a National Endowment for the Humanities Youth Grant to collect oral histories and corridos (topical ballads from Mexico and its border) from migrant farm workers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley where she recorded, photographed and listened to extraordinary music, stories and people. Carla returned to Minnesota in 1980, settling in the Twin Cities. She contributed to the Northern Sun News and worked for the Minnesota Department for Human Rights as a writer and then a case investigator. Her passion for social justice led her to study law. After law school, she began her career as a public defender in Hennepin County. After seven years, she became an Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, prosecuting criminal cases.
DISCOVERING A VOICE
In 1996, Carla began a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in writing at Hamline University and worked every other week for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Domestic Abuse Service Center. At Hamline, she was an editor of the Water~Stone Review and discovered one of Hand Me Down My Walking Cane’s main characters, Sadie.
Today, Carla is a practicing senior attorney for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. She lives with her husband, LeRoy, and her cat, Toby, in St. Paul. In and around her writing and law, she occasionally co-hosts Corazón Latino, a Latin music show on KFAI, with Eve MacLeish.
2002, Hamline University, Outstanding Fiction Thesis Nomination
2001, New Letters, Creative Nonfiction Finalist
2000, Voices For the Land, Second Place
1999-2000, The Loft Mentor Series, Fiction