John Griswold, who uses the pen name Oronte Churm at Inside Higher Ed and elsewhere, was born in Vietnam and raised in coal country in Southern Illinois. His stories, poems, and essays have appeared in War, Literature and the Arts; Brevity; Natural Bridge;  and Ninth Letter. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, listed as notable in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009, and included in The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 3 (WW Norton).

His most recent book is a collection of essays, Pirates You Don't Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life (University of Georgia Press 2014). He is also the author of a novel, A Democracy of Ghosts, and a nonfiction book, Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City.

He teaches in the MFA program at McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana.

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Most Recent Articles

May 29, 2008
Several of the events at the lit festival I went to last weekend convened in a narrow room above a karaoke bar, and panelists sat on barstools behind the service counter. Should I say that we dispensed shots of strong advice?
May 22, 2008
As you read this, I’m on the road with Crazy Larry, headed for Louisville, Kentucky, and Abbey Road on the River, “Five Days of Peace/Love/Rock & Roll.” Back in the day, The Beatles
May 21, 2008
As I wrote in a couple of earlier posts (here and here), I’ve long had an interest in independent publishing. Today I have an interview with an actual owner-operator of one such literary press that I’ve been watching.
May 15, 2008
Last month I went to an organizational meeting for anyone on campus interested in teaching courses (off-campus) for people who traditionally haven’t had the chance to go to university. It’s a worthy project that would help with a number of social ills, but the organizing body doesn’t want publicity at this early stage—not everyone would be down with it politically—so I can’t offer specifics.
May 14, 2008
The end of every semester is, in a sense, a finality; all those minds I’ve been living in for four months withdraw suddenly and leave only silence. But it’s also false closure, a pretense that students have learned some difficult thing once and for all, when I know good and well that Dr. Trinkle will sit reading their lab reports next fall in his office on the engineering quad, shaking his fist in the direction of the English Building.
May 7, 2008
My guest today, Dinty W. Moore, is a writer and professor of English at Ohio University.
May 3, 2008
Another of the benefits of revealing my real name and location is the ability to profile remarkable people I’ve met. With Josh Birnbaum, I made it just in time: He’s graduating from Illinois in a few days with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. More importantly to both of us, he’s a very talented young photojournalist whose work I discovered for myself while writing about Unofficial St. Pat’s Day. Josh’s photos were in the Daily Illini’s galleries of the event, and I immediately googled his website. His pictures are humane, moving and witty.
May 1, 2008
Only yesterday did I hear of the death, last September, of Professor Emeritus James J. McNiece, Jr., of Northern Illinois University.Jim McNiece was my first creative writing teacher, but oddly enough I can’t remember how many classes I took with him—certainly two, maybe three. Was there an independent study? I obviously took whatever he had to give; he once bemusedly told the class that when he walked down the hall in the department, I kept popping out from behind corners to ask him even more questions. (He retired a few years after; I hope I wasn’t the last straw.)
April 24, 2008
When I was very little, my mom took me down to the Mississippi to see a river barge that had broken loose from its tug in a recent flood. It was stranded on the bank, overflowing with coal, and we walked down to the thing and touched its hull. It looked to me like a rusted building stuck awkwardly in the mud. The forces involved were terrifying.
April 18, 2008
It’s been one of those weeks. Our semester is nearly done, and at first I blamed the odd events on spring, when young persons’ fancies lightly turn to thoughts of love, freedom, and playing endless video games all summer long. But there’s something else at work.


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