Martha Oliver-Smith was born in Peace Dale, Rhode Island in 1946 to a family of writers, artists and scholars. She spent most of her childhood moving between her grandmother’s home in Peace Dale and living with her mother in New York. She moved west with her young family in 1972 to Ashland, Oregon where she completed a BA in English from Southern Oregon University. In 1976, she moved to Reno, Nevada to earn an MA in English literature from the University of Nevada where she began her thirty-six year teaching career. After twenty-five years of teaching college and high school literature and writing courses in Oregon, Nevada and California, Oliver-Smith moved back east to Vermont in 2002 to teach and to research and write Martha's Mandala. In 2006, she earned an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts where her thesis provided the basis for the memoir. She lives with her husband, two cats, one dog and six chickens in northern Vermont where she is working on a second memoir.