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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.

January 30, 2009 - 6:30pm
I continue today to be educated in new ways to freeze to death in a Victorian house. Though the thermostat maintains its adequate setting, subtle but powerful air currents strip the body of vital heat. I don a stocking cap, decide it’s not enough, add a blanket, then two—one under and one over—in order to work on my laptop. An hour later I feel warm, but unbundled I discover too late that I’ve sweated just enough to dampen my cotton clothing, and I’m hypothermic in minutes.
January 20, 2009 - 12:21am
My occasional book the past few weeks has been Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu (Columbia UP, 1967), translated by the great Burton Watson. The philosophical writing covers from about 400 to 233 BCE.Han Fei is my least favorite; he was of noble birth, and if he were alive today he would have written editorials in support of a Cheney presidency:
January 16, 2009 - 4:35pm
For those of you who will attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Chicago next month, I hope to see you there. In addition to being Inside Higher Ed’s boots on the ground, I’ll be reading with University of Illinois non-fictionists and serving on a panel with fellow McSweeney’s dispatchers.
January 14, 2009 - 7:49pm
My nomination a couple of weeks ago for the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching required letters of support from past and present students. When I read the two letters that appeared in my packet, along with one by the administrator who organized the packet, I began to sob. I had no idea I was so wonderful, and I went straight out and bought a new hat.
January 9, 2009 - 11:29am
The indomitable Professor Cohen writes in response to my most recent post about creative nonfiction and food:
December 31, 2008 - 11:34am
“When at a loss how to go on, cough,” says an ancient Greek proverb. Or so claims 10,000 Jokes, Toasts and Stories: A Mammoth Encyclopedia of Wit and Humor (Doubleday, 1939, last updated 1965), one of several toasting anthologies I consulted at my local library in preparation for your party tonight. Ancient foxed tomes like these, and those that count as new ( Toasts, Delacorte, 1981) are one of many reasons bookstores will never supplant the delight of libraries.
December 29, 2008 - 3:27pm
For those interviewing at MLA this year, here are links to a couple of dispatches I did for McSweeney's on the conference two years ago.In which my family and I drive to the conference.In which I suffer in the wait for news.Good luck to each of you!
December 24, 2008 - 2:23am
Do you know the great children’s album The Bottle Let Me Down? Get it, even if you don’t have kids, for lyrics like these from Robbie Fulks that perfectly describe the magician at this year’s holiday party at our student union:
December 15, 2008 - 7:45pm
“’Tis most true, [many have an incurable itch to write]…in this scribbling age,” Robert Burton wrote nearly 400 years before the blog. “[O]ut of an itching humor that every man hath to show himself, desirous of fame and honor…he will write no matter what and scrape together it boots not whence.”
December 11, 2008 - 12:12pm
A friend has sent me the link for a wiki that might be of interest to anyone on the job market in creative writing.

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