Press 53 5 Questions, 3 Facts
The Story Prize Steve Mitchell Hangs Out
r.kv.r.y. journal Carol Roan talks to Steve
Joe Mills’ blog A Flash View with Steve Mitchell

Courtesy of the Steve Mitchell Archival foundation

Steve Mitchell grew up restless in North Carolina in the Sixties and early Seventies where his portals to the larger world were television and the library. He had his first devotional experience at the age of 10 in a movie theatre, when he suddenly understood that the creation of anything beautiful changes the world.

In high school, he founded an alternative school newspaper, The Daily Fish, which was neither daily nor fish-related. Fortunately, there are no extant copies.

He lived on the economic fringe of society, working with various groups for Human Rights, against the Death Penalty, the standard causes which it always seemed to him no one could possibly have an argument with. But he was young. His first child was born in 1985; another devotional experience from which he understood that we are already who we are from the moment of birth.

In 1994, he moved with his ex-wife and two children to a spiritual community where the kids could run naked through fields of daffodils while he raised cows and asparagus. He participated in a wide range of spiritual practices, none of which involved group sex or Kool-aid. He studied with Thich Nhat Hanh and Jungian Analyst, Dr. Edith Wallace, as well as physicist-philosopher, Anthony Blake, among others.

Courtesy of Jennifer Stevenson

In addition to being a sort-of cowboy, he’s worked in construction and retail, supervised a rehabilitation program for the Chronic Mentally Ill, cooked hotdogs and fish sticks at a Y Summer Camp, and taught as a substitute teacher. He’s provided environments of sound for seminars on various subjects. He’s edited a couple of books for others and the literary magazine, No Straight Roads for one year (and that was enough).

His fiction and poetry has appeared in The Southeast Review, Contrary, The North Carolina Literary Review, and Flash Fiction Magazine, among others. Three of his short stories were nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010. He is a winner of the 2012 Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Prize and a finalist in the 2009 Fulton Prize for Short Fiction and the 2010 Ron Rash Award for Short Fiction.
He’s received two North Carolina Arts Council grants to attend Creative Capital Professional Development Workshops. In 2000, he received a Residency Grant from the N.C. Arts Council to the Vermont Studio Center.

Steve Field1
Courtesy of Christine Kirouac

His plays have been performed in theatres along the East Coast. Sometimes, he’s directed them himself. He’s directed additional theatre by Sam Shepard, Christopher Durang and Peter Brook, among others, and toured with a multi-voice poetry group performing original work (and the occasional Gladys Knight and the Pips cover). He’s directed a number of short films and taken part in two 48 Hour Film Projects as writer and actor. He’s most proud of his performance as Thug 1 in Gone to Ground.

As a writer, he’s intrigued with the places where true memory becomes our mythology and the places where these mythologies wrestle with our world. He’s excited by moments of awareness in which something actually changes within us. And he loves the way we learn about strangers in conversation: in snippets and bits and odd elocutions, in half-formed images and conjecture. Within this chaotic mash-up we might begin to see how they story their own lives.

He loves the idea that writing is about creating a shifting, open space and a certain quality of silence.

His work tends to be written in the style we tell our own stories to ourselves; in gaps and lapses, leaping from a present moment to a past and back again, an impressionistic trajectory in search of a narrative. His exploration of character presupposes a yearning and the struggle for a personal mythology. His work is about people in search of their own narratives and the stories do not help them to clarify one.

He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with his partner, writer Deonna Kelli Sayed and the cat, Mr. Zip. He’s co-owner of Scuppernong Books.

coney3b copy
Courtesy of Christine Kirouac