Oronte

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

October 10, 2007
A big perk of writing for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency has been meeting people like today’s guest, Roy Kesey. Roy and I became pen pals through our dispatches for the Tendency, if pen pal is still a valid name for what happens instantaneously and online.
October 9, 2007
You probably know people who expect instant loyalty to their causes. Any hesitation suggests to them the work they’ll need to do to sell you or else to wheel their flanks and attack.
October 4, 2007
One of the two best college teachers I ever knew—an older Ph.D. candidate who became an adjunct himself here for a while—once told me we’d never know how we’d affected students’ lives; the students themselves wouldn’t know for 20 years. Coming from anyone else, it might have sounded like a defense against student criticisms or justification not to teach, but with him it was grace under pressure. I’m starting to understand what he meant.
October 1, 2007
One of the drawbacks of writing with a pen name is the restriction it places on topics. I can’t tell you about interesting lectures or readings I attended, or offer my take on a newsworthy event here, or even praise the best things about Hinterland University, because they’d be sure tip-offs to both place and identity.
September 28, 2007
September 26, 2007
Until our departments hire mystics, we may never know why some classes fall flat. We sit afterwards in quietude, trying to understand, but often it’s as futile as trying to piece together a shattered flowerpot. Better just to use one of the bigger shards to promote drainage in a new pot, and move on.
September 24, 2007
EXT. BENCH NEAR STUDENT CENTER - DAY A PROF eats his lunch from a Styrofoam bowl. Enter his acquaintance, who also works for the university but is a NON-PROF.
September 20, 2007
Crazy Larry, the struggling actor, is in a commercial run of a good play, which got him signed recently with a big talent agency. They told him to do two things immediately: Pay hundreds (again) for a (different) headshot, and enroll in an acting school.
September 18, 2007
But this ain’t science.
September 17, 2007
My wife and I have opened part of our home as an inn for wayward academics.

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