I publish under both my real name, John Griswold, and the pen name Oronte Churm. As Churm I've written for Inside Higher Ed for seven years, for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency as a regular columnist, and at other places around the Net.
In February, the University of Georgia Press will publish my collected essays, called Pirates You Don't Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life.
I was born in Saigon, Vietnam—on Ho Chi Minh’s birthday—but grew up in Southern Illinois, which provided the setting for my novel, A Democracy of Ghosts (Wordcraft of Oregon, 2009). The novel was a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year and winner of the Eric Hoffer Award, as well as the Delta Award from Southern Illinois University. My nonfiction book, Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City, looks at the coal economy of the real-life town in my novel, a place deemed "the most radical" of its time, and at the root causes of the disastrous events that took place in the region over several bloody decades.
My writing has appeared in War, Literature and the Arts; Brevity; Natural Bridge; and Ninth Letter. It's also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, listed as notable in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009, and included in the anthologies Mountain Man Dance Moves (Vintage) and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 3 (WW Norton).
I’ve worked as a snake-wrangler at a state park, U.S. Army frogman and deep-sea diver, production manager, corporate writer, and editor. I've taught at University of Miami, Coral Gables, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and now teach in the MFA program at McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana.
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