Michigan-based writer to visit Marquette, speak at NMU

Michael Williams

Author and poet Jack Driscoll will be speaking at Peter White Public Library at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13 to highlight his recent short story collection “The World of a Few Minutes Ago,” a series of 10 stories all set in Northern Michigan.

“The World of a Few Minutes Ago” is Driscoll’s 10th published work and has been featured on NPR’s “The Sound of Writing.” He has published two novels, three other story collections and four poetry collections.

His works have earned him the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, the Pushcart Editors’ Book Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award.

Driscoll has visited Marquette before, but this time is at the invitation of one of his mentees, assistant professor of English Lynn Fay.

“He’s not only a great writer and fabulous person, he’s an incredible teacher,” Fay said. “He drives himself very hard to do his best work, but there’s no elitism there.

“He has compassion for both his characters and his readers. And you’ll never meet a nicer guy.”

Driscoll and Fay met 15 years ago at a Critical Connections Fiction Workshop in Ann Arbor, Mich. Fay attended to meeting to work with Driscoll.

“I wanted to study under him,” Fay said. “He singled out my work.”

From there, Driscoll’s and Fay’s relationship became one of mentor to mentee, exchanging emails for a year and a half to work on Fay’s writing.

Driscoll’s writing is tied directly to Michigan. He arrived at Interlochen in 1975 and has moved in and out of the state since. Many of his stories, including those found in “The World of a Few Minutes Ago,” are placed in Michigan, particularly the state’s northern areas.

Retiring a few years ago, Driscoll worked at Interlochen Center for the Arts in the northwest area of the Lower Peninsula for 33 years. He established the Interlochen Review, a literary magazine, which now publishes exclusively online.

Though Driscoll lives in Michigan, he teaches in the fiction department at Pacific University in Oregon. Driscoll isn’t the only one from Michigan at PU. Kalamazoo-based author Bonnie Jo Campbell, who also visited Marquette in 2013, teaches in Pacific’s fiction department. Nor are they the only Pacific University writers to visit Marquette. Poet Kwame Dawes also visited NMU earlier this year.

Margaret Boyle, Peter White’s Programming Coordinator, arranged Driscoll’s forthcoming visit.

“The author events are kind of my gig,” Boyle said.

Each event is different, bringing varied attendants.

“It all depends what they write about,” Boyle said. “People who write about Northern Michigan get a better turnout. People enjoy meeting authors who have Michigan connections in their writing.”

Boyle enjoys seeing Peter White and NMU’s English department merge for events.

“If they’re bringing someone in it makes sense to have something here,” Boyle said.

Driscoll’s work has generated esteem in literary circles, as evidenced by his numerous awards and acclaim by other authors, including Fay.

“He should be winning the National Book Award,” Fay said.

Adding to his schedule in Marquette, Driscoll will also be speaking to one of Fay’s fiction classes.

“He always knows what he’s doing,” Fay said. “He will talk about the writing process, he will talk about his life, he will talk about his stories, and he will have students riveted.

“He can move you and rip your heart out.”