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 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.
April 25, 2007
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
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
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
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
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
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.
April 10, 2007
Robert Olen Butler’s recent writing-advice book, From Where You Dream, warns of the difficulties of being a literary artist instead of, say, a basketball player:
April 8, 2007
My wife and I will soon open part of our home as Churm House, an inn for wayward academics.


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