The Education of Oronte Churm

The Education of Oronte Churm

Oronte Churm is the pen name of John Griswold, who teaches in the MFA program at McNeese State University, proudly nestled in Cajun country on the Louisiana Gulf.

May 9, 2007 - 5:27pm
The end is near: It’s time to grade the stacks of final papers, estimate student participation grades, tabulate everything and record the sums. Yesterday it was also time for my ritual end-of-semester shearing. I dislike getting haircuts intensely, but I couldn’t stand being trapped in this house any longer—not another gottverdammt minute in this lovely old house—and set off to get some sun on my hairy white shins, on the walk of shame.
May 4, 2007 - 3:03pm
My mother and I were sitting in a booth in a J.C. Penney’s lunchroom, sometime in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s, when the store manager made an announcement on the intercom, and suddenly my mind began to work in a new way. I can still hear the tenor of the man’s voice and the slight echo from speakers at various depths in the store, but his words are gone.
May 1, 2007 - 9:57pm
My mother-in-law and I were discussing small-town life. She’s originally from Inverness, Scotland, which used to be smaller than it is now, and I grew up in Buckhorn, a town of 10,000 in Southern Illinois. We agreed it’s a common misconception that everyone knows everyone else in a small town, but we also agreed there are certain characters that everyone does know, who help forge the common identity of place. In Inverness, it was street-dweller Forty Pockets, named for the layers of clothing he wore, no matter the weather.
April 27, 2007 - 5:43pm
I may have the best deal in all of adjunctdom. My teaching load is 3/3, and I have full health coverage. My pay is only $20,000 less than if I was on the tenure track at Hinterland, doing the same thing. If I were tenured, with my current time in service, I’d be making double what I am now. I’m often asked to teach 400-level independent studies, for free, and I serve on committees and constantly mentor university-scholar students in an attempt to be a good departmental citizen. I even go to the director’s bonfire parties, when tenured faculty don’t bother to show.
April 25, 2007 - 7:59am
When I was accepted to grad school, I had a big problem: In order to get my fellowship, I’d have to teach. I’d always been terrified of public speaking. As an undergrad I talked my Speech-Comm TA into letting me write papers instead of making required speeches. (Convincing him took rhetorical skill, right?)
April 23, 2007 - 9:57am
For those who don't know, I write somewhat regular dispatches for McSweeney's Internet Tendency. There's a new one up today. The earlier ones are all here.
April 20, 2007 - 2:58pm
It’s old news that many libraries suffer for lack of money. After September 11th, Hinterland’s investment portfolio tanked with the rest of the economy, and the state cut funds across the board. Some of that is coming back, but years of budget shortfalls and inflation have had their effect.
April 19, 2007 - 3:17pm
Some of you have written to ask how I, a writing teacher, feel about the creative writing connection in the Virginia Tech killings. I have many things to say but want to be very careful not to use this disaster to point fingers or advance a cause.
April 17, 2007 - 3:09pm
Our deepest sympathies go to those at Virginia Tech and their families. Violence on any campus is an attack on our own learning communities and a betrayal of the underlying hope that education represents. Please join us in offering condolences. 
April 13, 2007 - 8:32am
This is the second interview in a series. Two years ago I had an e-mail from another adjunct on campus. He wanted to audit a creative-writing class I was teaching, and I said if he could stand it, I could too.

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