I grew up restless in North Carolina in the early Seventies where my portals to the larger world were television and the library. I had my first devotional experience at the age of 10 in a movie theatre, when I suddenly understood that the creation of anything beautiful changes the world.
In high school, I helped found an alternative school newspaper, The Daily Fish, which was neither daily nor fish-related. Fortunately, there are no extant copies.
I married and lived on the economic fringe of society, working with various groups for Human Rights, against the Death Penalty, the standard causes which seemed inarguable to me. But I was young. My first child was born in 1985; it was another devotional experience in which I understood we are already who we are from the moment of birth.
In 1994, I moved with my wife and two children to a spiritual community where my kids could run naked through fields of daffodils while I raised cows and asparagus. I participated in a wide range of spiritual practices, none of which involved group sex or Kool-aid. I studied with Thich Nhat Hanh and Jungian analyst, Dr. Edith Wallace, as well as physicist-philosopher, Anthony Blake, among others.
In addition to being a sort-of cowboy, I’ve 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. I’ve provided environments of sound for seminars on various subjects. I’ve edited a couple of books for others and the literary magazine, ‘No Straight Roads’ for one year (and that was enough). I currently make my living as a chef.
I’ve been writing seriously for about twelve years. My fiction and poetry has been published in The Southeast Review, Contrary, The North Carolina Literary Review, and Flash Fiction Magazine, among others. Three of my short stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I’m 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.
I’ve received two North Carolina Arts Council grants to attend Creative Capital Professional Development Workshops. In 2000, I received a Residency Grant from the N.C. Arts Council to the Vermont Studio Center, based on my fiction.
My plays have been performed in theatres along the East Coast. Sometimes, I’ve directed them myself. I’ve 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). I’ve directed a number of short films and taken part in two 48 Hour Film Projects as writer and actor. I’m most proud of my performance as ‘Thug 1’ in ‘Gone to Ground’.
As a writer, I’m intrigued with the places where true memory becomes our mythology and where these mythologies wrestle with the world around us. I’m excited by moments of awareness in which something actually changes within us.
And, I love 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.
I think writing is about creating a shifting, open space and a certain quality of silence.
My 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. My exploration of character pre-supposes a yearning and the struggle for a personal mythology. My work is about people in search of their own narratives and my stories do not help them to clarify one.
I live in North Carolina with Mr. Zip, the cat.