All the paths of my formal education and experience have led to one place: teaching writing. My undergraduate work for a BA in Writing ranged from poetry to technical writing. My terminal Creative Writing degree is an MFA in Fiction, and my MS degree in Environmental Studies (EVST) emphasized nonfiction Environmental Writing. I've taught writing to graduate and undergraduate students in EVST and English at UM, to low-residency MFA candidates at Spalding University, and to children, high schoolers, university freshmen, and citizen writers in several communities. Beyond student age, interest, or the genre at hand, the basics remain: I try to learn as much as I teach; writing is a craft best learned in the doing; inspiration, encouragement, and hard work are the sun, water, and soil of the experience. The shape of the best writing classes I lead is a circle; the quality of the conversation I aspire to is Buddhist Right Speech: being kind, truthful, and helpful--all equally and at once. No easy task, but well worth the attempt.
All the roads of my informal education and experience likewise converge: sauntering to the natural rhythms of one of those different drummers. As a 19-year-old college dropout and a 37-year-old returning sophomore, I was a non-traditional student, and as a professor who only started teaching full time after 50, I trust I'm a non-traditional teacher. As a young man I practiced a manual, itinerant trade--brick work--and what I loved about it was its elemental simplicity: take sand, water, clay, steel, and add the human hand. I also lived for 5 years without electricity in the Missouri Ozarks, pumping water on a bicycle, gardening and composting a quarter acre, walking and sitting in the oak-hickory forest. A Missoula resident for over 25 years now, I wake up each day grateful for the living place around us here and wide awake to the diverse challenges ahead for all of us who care for the beyond-human world.
Mon & Wed 2:00-3:00 pm. T & Th 12:00-1:00 pm. And by appointment.
Field Of Study:
Environmental Writing, Readings, & Thought.
Environmental and nature writing of all kinds, but most especially work with wild heart: I'm thinking of Merrill Gilfillan, Rebecca Solnit, Charles Bowden, David Duncan, Janisse Ray, Meridel LeSueur, Thomas Merton, Loren Eiseley, Craig Childs, Thoreau, W.S. Merwin, Cormac McCarthy, John Haines, Linda Hogan, John D'Agata --just off the top of my head and the tip of the berg--tomorrow I may make another list. There's an ever growing biodiversity of writing and the best of it calls us back to the quiet, delicate, ferocious world beyond our doors and gives us the strength to go on with our work to make the world we find and the society we build more equitable, healthy, heartfelt, and sustainable.
True writing takes many forms: a beacon, a reminder, a touchstone, an anthem, a bleached bone, a call to hearts. The toughest, most obvious tasks for environmentalists are in the field and the labs, the classrooms, boardrooms, and voting halls, but writing works, too--like water: slow and deep. Across all the years, as well as all our borders, words work--think of Thoreau, Muir, Austin, Leopold, Carson, Abbey, and Dillard. Those are some raging rivers, no doubt, but they swell from many creeks, streams, and rivulets, too. As I teach writing, I try to encourage and channel anyone who wants their words to join the flow and help turn the tide.
EVST 335L: The Environmental Vision, offered each fall, variable readings.
EVST 373A: Nature Works, workshop class, offered each spring.
EVST 505: Literature of Nature Writing, offered each spring, variable topics & readings.
EVST 573: Environmental Writing, workshop class, offered each fall.
EVST 594: Publishing: The Next Steps, offered each Spring
Pomona College, Claremont CA, 1965-67
Missouri State University, Springfield MO BA in Writing, 1987
U of MT, MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction,1989
U of MT, MS in Environmental Studies, emphasis Environmental Writing, 2000
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature & Environment)
AWP (Associated Writing Programs)
ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
CFC (Clark Fork Coalition) (Board of Directors 2001-2009)
MACLC (Missoula Area Central Labor Council)
UFA (University Faculty Association) Past President; Current VP and Chief Negotiator
Recent publications include "Tanks" in The Georgia Review, 2010, "Nine Ten Again" in Shenandoah, 2009, "Wings and Wheat" in High Desert Journal #2, 2005, "Kith and Kin of Wildness," in the anthology A Road Runs Through It: Reviving Wild Places (Johnson Books, Boulder, 2006), and "Deep Blue Breath" in The Road RIPorter, 2006.
Recent readings include Watershed Education Network in 2013, UM Wilderness Lecture Series Reading 2012, War & Peace Community Reading and Second Wind Reading in Missoula in 2011, and ; Thacher School, Ojai CA, 2010; Seeley Lake and Ronan MT 2010, Missoula and UM Western/Dillon 2009; the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) National Conference in Eugene 2005; Nature of Words Conference in Bend OR 2005; Associated Writing Programs (AWP) Conferences in Austin, 2006, and Atlanta, 2007; the Second Wind Reading Series in Missoula in 2010 & 2006; the Wilderness Lecture Series at UM in 2007; and the Faculty/Graduate Student Research Conference at UM 2007.
Nine Ten Again, stories. Elixir Press, Denver 2009.
Montana Surround: Land, Water, Nature, Place, essays. Johnson Bks, Boulder 2004.
Clay Center, a novel. EWU Press, Spokane WA 2004.
River Street, stories. SMU Press, Dallas TX 1994.
Essays & Stories in High Desert Journal, Northern Lights, Big Sky Journal, Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Epoch, CutBank, and many other journals and anthologies.
Awards & Recognitions
Robert T. Pantzer Presidential Humanitarian Award 2009, U MT.
Sustainability Advocate of the Year 2009, Missoula Sustainable Business Council.
Nine Ten Again selected for Elixir Press 2008 Fiction Award.
Clay Center named one of 10 Best First Novels of 2004 by the American Library Association
Montana Surround, National Finalist: Mid-List Bks & River Teeth CNF Book Contests, 2003.
Faulkner Society of New Orleans, National Creative Wrtg Competition, Novel Award, 2001.