“An Argument Worth Having: Championing Creative Writing in the Disciplines” Published in English Leadership Quarterly!

I’m excited to announce that my recent article on ways to use creative writing assignments as formative assessments in secondary classrooms (not just ELA!) is now available in the October issue of English Leadership Quarterly.

You can access the full issue and the article abstract here:


Or, you can access the article directly here (NCTE membership required):



Heading to Tampa for CCCC


The 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication is upon us, and I have to say, I’m looking forward to leaving cold, dreary Terre Haute for sunny Tampa, where it appears the weather will perfect all week.

So, if you happen to be in Tampa, feel free to come see our panel, Re-Examining Creative Writing in Relation to Composition. It will take place on Thursday at 12:15 in the Marriott Meeting Room, Level Two. I’ll be presenting with Janelle Adsit (who was featured in Dispatches from the Classroom), Steve Westbrook, and Laura Wilder. My presentation is titled “Creative Writing Across the Curriculum and focuses on how creative writing assignments and exercises can successfully be “exported” to disciplines other than English.

Hope to see you there!

Settling In, Writing, and Conference Prepping

It’s been a while since my last update, due mostly to the fact that the first semester as an Assistant Professor is busier than I could have possibly imagined. The good news, though, is that we’re settled in Terre Haute and counting the days until we can once again take the cover off the pool.

In professional news, I’m excited to report that my department and colleagues are first-rate, and have made my adjustment to the tenure-track much less stressful than (I hear) it can be elsewhere. Also, the final draft of the novel is finished and queries are going out the door, with some good initial responses. I’ve also begun researching and outlining the second novel. All I can say so far is that the two things you’ll always find in southern Indiana are coal mines and corn fields, and I wrote about coal mining in the first novel…

Finally, though I’ll provide more detailed info soon, I want to let everyone know that I’ll be presenting on a panel at the 4Cs conference in Tampa this March. The name of the panel is “Re-Examining Creative Writing in Relation to Composition,” and my portion will be considering possible uses for Creative Writing in departments other than English. So, if you’re in Tampa, feel free to swing by the panel!

Now, back to grading papers…

Back Home Again (soon) in Indiana!

Everyone, I’m ecstatic to report that I’ve been offered, and have accepted, an Assistant Professor position in the Department of English at Indiana State University! I’m being hired specifically to teach English Teaching methods courses, but I’ll also continue to teach composition, literature, and creative writing, as the schedule requires.

There will be a LOT to do over the next couple of months (and even more after that), but for now, I’m so happy to report this news, and would like to thank all of my professors, colleagues, and supporters who have helped me reach this point. Onward and upward!

“Achilles’ Last Stand” Now Available at Wild Violet!

My latest story, “Achilles’ Last Stand” has just popped up on Wild Violet, as part of a featured collection on the theme of loss. I’m particularly excited that this story shows up online, since it’s written as a blog. The editors also picked out a lovely piece of art to lead it off. Head over here to have a read!

“Four by Eight” Now Available at Quarterly West!

Happy to share this morning that my latest essay, “Four by Eight,” shows up in the new issue of Quarterly West. You can find the essay here, or the entire issue here. (The issue also contains poems by fellow UWM grad students Lindsay Daigle and Kara van de Graaf, so it’s a good day for Plan C!)

Novel Excerpt Wins Ellen Hunnicut Prize!

I’m very happy to announce that an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, We Eat This Gold, has won the UWM English Department’s Ellen Hunnicut Prize for best novella or novel excerpt. It’s always a pleasure to attend the end-of-the-year awards banquet in our department, and this unexpected honor made this year’s ceremony extra special for me. Many thanks to those who made yesterday’s banquet so wonderful, and congratulations to the other prize winners!

Amazon author page now available

If you’d like to visit my Amazon author page, you can now follow this link:


An excerpt from “Shadow Rails”

In the summer of 2008, I find myself needing to travel one-way from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Portland, Oregon.  Normally, my method for solo travel would be a hunch-shouldered plane ride in coach, but this time I hesitate.  The great inconvenience of the post-September eleventh world is the airport, and I’ve dealt with one too many underpaid security guards with their please-step-back-throughs.  At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been on the Greyhound enough times (once) to know it’s not for me, so I begin to research the only option I’ve never explored.  For the first time in my life, I choose to travel cross-country by train.  I’ve been on trains before, of course, having traversed Great Britain repeatedly during my study-abroad semester of undergrad, but those trips clocked in at an hour or two and were in coach.  This time, I’ll pull out all the stops—first class, sleeper car, the whole shebang.  Nevermind that I’m an underpaid graduate student.  I want to see if the clock can still be turned back, maybe a century or more.  I want to find out where the tracks lead when I don’t meet them at perpendicular angles.

Rose-colored glasses securely fastened, I arrive at the Milwaukee Amtrak station on a late July afternoon, accompanied by my worn backpack, a borrowed suitcase, and a friend from whom I’ve bummed a ride.  Because he is a good friend, and stronger than me, he carries my suitcase into the lobby for me as I wrestle the bulging backpack over my arms.  Watching him tote my luggage, the halcyon visions of 19th century privilege begin in earnest.  This won’t be an irritable day spent in security lines and cramped airport seating.  I’m getting on a passenger train, just like Bill Hickok, Mark Twain, and the dozen other sepia-toned faces in my imagination.  I’ve forgotten the five hundred bucks I dropped for sleeper accommodations and the fact that a one-way plane ticket would have cost maybe one-fifty, because Agatha Christie never wrote about a Murder on American Airlines Flight Sixteen.

© Chris Drew 2012

“Four by Eight” wins AWP Intro Journals Award in Creative Nonfiction!

Some very good news this evening (and not even an April Fool’s joke).  I’ve just found out that my essay, “Four by Eight,” has been awarded the 2012 AWP Intro Journals Award in Creative Nonfiction.  Needless to say, I’m very excited to hear this, and also excited that the essay will be given a good home in Quarterly West early next year.  Many thanks to Liam Callanan and Dave Yost, both of whom provided valuable feedback to get the essay into fighting shape.  Quarterly West is an online journal, so when I have a link available, I’ll post it here.

Upcoming Panel at CCCC

Hello all.  If you happen to be traveling to St. Louis for the 4 Cs conference this week, I want to let you know that my Dispatches co-editor, Joe Rein, and I will be taking part in a panel on Friday afternoon at 3:30 titled “The Hybrid TA: Composition, Rhetoric, and Creative Writing.”  I’ll be reading a paper titled “Dealing at the Crossroads: Creative Writing in the Composition Classroom.”  (The title of my paper in the CCCC program is wrong, just to clarify.)  Details are below.  Hope to see you there!

Session Title: “The Hybrid TA: Composition, Rhetoric, and Creative Writing”
Location: America’s Convention Center, Room 221, Level 2
Date/Time: Friday, March 23, 3:30-4:45 p.m.

An excerpt from “The Front”

With hair still dripping from his morning shower, Alvin pulls on his flared jeans and a Grand Funk T-shirt.  After a quick zit-check in the hallway mirror, he finds his mom in the kitchen washing holiday dishes.  She’s overweight, but not grossly so, and wears brown pants of some synthetic weave with a floral blouse.  The flesh on her biceps wiggles as she wrestles with the roasting pan.

“Morning, Mom.”

She doesn’t turn.  “Morning, Alvin.”  Then, after a beat, “There’s some ham left in the fridge from yesterday if you’re hungry.”  Her voice sounds scratchy, but he wants to ignore it.  She cries sometimes.

“Everything okay?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” she says, but he sees her shoulders tighten as the Caterpillar revs its engine down by the highway.  “It’s just—the TV’s so sad this morning.”

“What’s on?” he asks, moving toward the family room to find Walter Cronkite narrating over a montage of film clips on the Zenith.

…assumed the presidency after the death of Franklin Roosevelt and guided our nation to the final cessation of hostilities with Germany and the Empire of Japan.  He’d been ill and in the hospital for most of the month, and doctors revealed yesterday that he’d slipped into a coma.  Again, this morning brings news that Harry Truman, thirty-third president of the United States, has died.  And now, for further—”

The war photographs shown over Cronkite’s narration are similar to the black and white picture nestled among the clot of family photos on top of the television set.  One of them shows Alvin’s dad beside the rubble of a bombed-out house during World War II.

Alvin steps back into the kitchen.  “What did he die of?”

“They’re not sure yet, sweetie.  At his age, who really knows?”  She smiles now, and if she has been crying, he can’t tell.  If only she wouldn’t call him sweetie.

“Is dad already working down at the old house?”

She scrubs at the pan.  “He said to come down as soon as you’re dressed.  And to make sure you put on your rubber boots.  It’s muddy.”

Outside, a warm breeze surprises him, and the thermometer hanging beside the wind chime shows seventy-two degrees.  Alvin can’t remember ever going without long sleeves so late in the year.  The Christmas tree is already lying naked on the brush pile, the victim of his dad’s work ethic. He can see Dad across the pond, pacing around the Cat, occasionally gesturing to its driver, Lovell Potter, who has lived just down the road since before Alvin was born.  Alvin likes Lovell, who is a volunteer fireman with Dad, but has lived in constant fear of Lovell’s son for most of his life.  Shane Potter has harassed Alvin since the third grade, but the last year and a half has been blissfully Shane-free, thanks to President Nixon.  Alvin wonders if Shane enjoys tormenting the North Vietnamese as much as he did his neighbor.  Not that his absence had led to any sort of social renaissance for Alvin.  Antagonist or no, Alvin feels radically incompatible with most public situations, preferring the solitude of his albums and books, along with Mission: Impossible on Saturdays and Mannix on Sundays.

© Chris Drew 2012

Dispatches from the Classroom release event at Boswell Books this Thursday!

Hi everyone.  While it’s a bit after the actual book release (thank you, academic calendar), I wanted to let you know that Dave, Joe, and I will be having an official release event for Dispatches this weekend at Boswell Books next Thursday, the 26th, at 7:00 p.m.  If you’re in the area, feel free to stop by.  We’re planning to keep the reading to a minimum and focus instead on an open discussion of creative writing pedagogy.  And of course, we’d like to extend a big “thank you” to Boswell for hosting.  Hope to see you there!


Release Event for Dispatches from the Classroom
Thursday, January 26th at 7:00 p.m
Boswell Books
2559 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211
(414) 332-1181

Upcoming MLA Panel

If you happen to be attending the MLA conference in Seattle next week, I’ll be chairing a panel this Tuesday, January 8th, at 10:15 a.m. titled “Sound and Voice in the Creative Writing Classroom: Practice-Based Pedagogies.”  If you’re looking for some good, practical exercises for your CW class, this is the session for you.  Check out the full details (including the amazing panelists) here:


Dispatches has landed!

Just wanted to let you all know that the book I edited with two of my esteemed colleagues, Joseph Rein and David Yost, has finally hit bookshelves (both physical and virtual).  Dispatches from the Classroom: Graduate Students on Creative Writing Pedagogy is officially available, and chock full of great advice for teaching creative writing.  We’re quite proud of it (and of the fantastic contributors we managed to pull together), so do please check it out.  You can find it on the website of Continuum Books, or on Amazon.



Thanks for stopping by my website.  I’ve set up this site to serve as a home-base for my various writings and other academic activities.  Check back often, as more content will be coming soon!

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