John Griswold

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General Information

Name: John Griswold

Pen Name: Oronte Churm

Genres: Fiction, Non-Fiction, History

Born: 1963 in Saigon, Vietnam



Illinois Connection

I was raised in Herrin, Illinois. After army service, I attended Northern Illinois University, moved to the Chicago suburbs and worked in corporations there. In 1997 I went to the University of Miami, Coral Gables, for a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. Since 2000 I've taught in the Department of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

In 2009, my novel, A Democracy of Ghosts, was published. It's set during the Herrin Massacre of 1922 and looks at the event through the perspectives of eight main characters. One of the characters is based on my grandfather, William J. Sneed, who was a state senator and the United Mine Workers Subdistrict President in Herrin at the time.

My nonfiction history of Herrin (Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City) will come out at the end of 2009.

Biographical and Professional Information

My stories, poems, and essays have appeared in War, Literature and the Arts; Brevity; Perigee; Monkey Bicycle; Juked; Ninth Letter; and Natural Bridge, which nominated me for the 2001 Pushcart Prize. The Stork, a story chapbook, is available from Featherproof Books . An essay was listed as notable in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2009, ed. Dave Eggers.

As Oronte Churm, I'm also a contributing writer for Inside Higher Ed, as well as a columnist for McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and a contributing editor for Adjunct Advocate. My Churm writing has been in Mountain Man Dance Moves (McSweeney's Books) and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 3 (WW Norton).

Published Works

A Democracy of Ghosts, Wordcraft of Oregon, LLC, 2009

Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City, The History Press, 2009

Titles for Purchase and at Your Library

A Democracy of Ghosts

ISBN: 1877655635
Release Date: 2009-07-01

Find on World Cat

Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City

ISBN: 1596297972
Release Date: 2009-11-27

Find on World Cat

Literary Awards

  • Delta Award, Friends of Morris Library, SIU-C, A Democracy of Ghosts

Speaking Engagements and Upcoming Appearances

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

Contact me at

External Links

John Griswold on WorldCat

John Griswold on Amazon


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