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

March 29, 2007
I planned at the start of this blog to have occasional guest writers, and today I'm pleased to bring you a dispatch from the first one, a young English teacher currently in South Korea. Enjoy!  --Churm  
March 26, 2007
University English departments have splintered into literature, film studies, cultural studies, linguistics, rhetoric/writing studies, and business/technical writing divisions, each with its own course rubric and catalog, and each with its assigned seat at the
March 23, 2007
My Dear Mrs. Churm, On your birthday, I looked long and hard for something to convey my feelings anew, after all these years. Something for my partner, wife, the mother of our beautiful boys. Something tender and poetic.
March 22, 2007
On campuses everywhere, the entire week before any break should be set aside for these kinds of colloquies:
March 20, 2007
That’s the headline of the world’s most successful advertisement, regardless of product—or would be, if someone had the courage to use it, said one of my former roommates, the director of a corporate art department. Well, now it’s been done.
March 16, 2007
If you read my stuff, you know I’m a delicate flower—exquisitely sensitive—and a lover, not a fighter. But a self-reflective teacher has to be aware of his or her vibe in the classroom.
March 11, 2007
Is burnout a big force, like depression or exhaustion? Or is it an “incremental perturbation,” as John Barth calls drama, the accumulation of minor irritations and petty indignities until one day the thermostat clicks and the furnace of grievance fires up? Maybe burnout is something more mysterious and ineffable. Maybe jobs have hidden life-cycles based on natural laws, and human animals can sense their impending deaths, even when our conscious minds insist everything’s great: “Dave’s got a birthday, and we’re all going out to that Mexican place!” “Ooh! Margaritas!”
March 9, 2007
My cohort in the Miami MFA was a bit older and more diverse than others. We had among us a Barbadian schoolteacher, a South African whose ancestor was head of the Voortrekkers and was killed by Zulus, two women from local Cuban families, and a California poet who rode his K-Mart bicycle in heavy Miami traffic—knees up around his ears, ponytail streaming in the wind—and stopped to nibble hallucinogenic flowers from people’s shrubs.
March 5, 2007
I’ve always been interested in how we know where to go before we know why.
March 4, 2007
1.    Cluelessness2.    Terror3.    Hope4.    Competence5.    Hubris6.    Comeuppance7.    SabbaticalNote: Adjuncts should omit Age 7 and carry on with Age 6, ad infinitum.


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