photo by John Campbell
photo by John Campbell

Residency Dates: February 17, 2019 - March 09, 2019
Application Deadline: September 16, 2018

Bonnie Jo Campbell is a Pabst Endowed Chair for Master Writers

Bonnie Jo Campbell is the author of the National Bestselling novel, Once Upon a River (Norton, 2011), a river odyssey with an unforgettable sixteen-year-old heroine, which the New York Times Book Review calls “an excellent American parable about the consequences of our favorite ideal, freedom.” Her first novel, Q Road, delves into the lives of a rural community where development pressures are bringing unwelcome change in the character of the land.

Campbell’s critically-acclaimed short fiction collection American Salvage (Wayne State University Press, 2009) was finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. The collection consists of fourteen lush and rowdy stories of folks who are struggling to make sense of the twenty-first century. Donna Seaman wrote, “Campbell’s busted-broke, damaged, and discarded people are rich in longing, valor, forgiveness, and love, and readers themselves will feel salvaged and transformed by this gutsy book’s fierce compassion.” Campbell’s collection Women and Other Animals, won the AWP prize for short fiction, and details the lives of extraordinary females in rural and small town Michigan. Her story “The Tattoo” is included in the anthology Shadow Snow, a tribute to Ray Bradbury. Her story “The Smallest Man in the World” was awarded a Pushcart Prize and her story “The Inventor, 1972” was awarded the 2009 Eudora Welty Prize from Southern Review. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. Her newest book of stories, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, by Norton was released in 2015.

Bonnie Jo Campbell grew up on a small Michigan farm with her mother and four siblings in a house her grandfather Herlihy built in the shape of an H. She learned to castrate small pigs, milk Jersey cows, and, when she was snowed in with chocolate, butter, and vanilla, to make remarkable chocolate candy. When she left home for the University of Chicago to study philosophy, her mother rented out her room. She has since hitchhiked across the US and Canada, scaled the Swiss Alps on her bicycle, and traveled with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus selling snow cones. As president of Goulash Tours Inc., she has organized and led adventure tours in Russia and the Baltics, and all the way south to Romania and Bulgaria.

For decades, Campbell has put together a personal newsletter—The Letter Parade—and she currently practices Koburyu kobudo weapons training. She has received her MA in mathematics and her MFA in writing from Western Michigan University. She lives with her husband and other animals outside Kalamazoo, and she teaches writing in the low residency program at Pacific University.

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Residency Statement

I look forward to working with a handful of brilliant animals, inkslingers, hand wringers, and wise old souls who want to share, revise, and polish their stories, essays, plays, or prose poems. We’ll tailor the workshops and meetings to the needs of our circle of writers, indulging in thoughtful generous afternoon conversations about one another’s work (as well as other bits of lit), and close readings of problematic or intense passages. Your own writing will naturally give rise to our discussions of craft. Most of my own stories have been realist fictions about working-class folks, and I’m interested in exploring with you how to enhance meaning and a sense of adventure and fun in serious works through what Italo Calvino calls lightness, which we might seek through buoyant language, humor, elegance of structure, and whatever else jostles us as we dream and scheme onto our pages.

Application Requirements

1. Submit a letter of intent. Your letter should tell me something about yourself, your writing, and your writing experience—feel free to mention what someone you respect (e.g., a professor, your mom) has said about your writing; also tell me about your relationship with a book that matters to you. (.doc, .docx, .pdf)

2. Please send five to twelve pages of your prose (double-spaced, 12-point type), something you might like to work on during the residency. (.doc, .docx, .pdf)

Residency Fee: $900

Includes a $100 administration fee, weekday meals and housing; does not include artist materials, transportation, or weekend meals.

Scholarships / Financial Assistance

Only accepted Associate Artists may apply for financial assistance. For details, please visit the master artist details page.

Application fee: $25

 Click here to Apply!

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