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 23, 2007
My acquaintance Chaz and I were imagining an ideal teacher. Actually, we’d been talking about the future, when I intend to move my family to some fallow farm and live an idyll of slow food, deep thought, and lazy fun. Chaz plans to quit the academic IT business in a huff and live in a pop-up camper back in the woods on our property.
May 20, 2007
I succumbed this week and created my own MySpace page , largely on the advice of a New York Times article about artistic networking. According to my acquaintance Chaz, a midlevel IT manager at a Big 10 school, this puts me, in terms of technology use, still far behind his two year-old niece but ahead of 90 percent of all other academics in America. Academics may not use MySpace, but the rest of America seems to be there.
May 16, 2007
This morning I had to climb up on the roof to release a squirrel caught in our trap.
May 14, 2007
Oh sure, Sir Isaac Newton wrote the Principia and Opticks and all, and he too was Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, but he probably never did this:Professor Stephen Hawking rides the Vomit Comet and sings Led Zeppelin
May 11, 2007
That’s what a grad student next to me said when he saw the most recent publisher book fair in progress in our department.
May 9, 2007
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 8, 2007
I was telling Crazy Larry about being an undergrad at North Hinterland State University at Tundra, when out of my mouth came the words, “And then I was expelled.”
May 4, 2007
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
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
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.


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