About Jim

Professional version

Jim Minick is the author of The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family, winner of the SIBA Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award. Minick has also written a collection of essays, Finding a Clear Path, two books of poetry, Her Secret Song and Burning Heaven, and he edited All There Is to Keep by Rita Riddle. The Virginia College Bookstore Association awarded Burning Heaven the Jefferson Cup for best book of the year for 2008. Minick has won grants, awards, and honors from the Southern Independent Booksellers Association, Southern Environmental Law Center, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Appalachian Writers Association, Appalachian Heritage, Now and Then Magazine, Radford University, and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. His poem “I Dream a Bean” was picked by Claudia Emerson for permanent display at the Tysons Corner/Metrorail Station. He’s also garnered grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Minick’s work has appeared in many publications including Shenandoah, Oxford American, Orion, San Francisco Chronicle, Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Conversations with Wendell Berry, The Sun, Appalachian Journal, Bay Journal News, Wind, and The Roanoke Times. He completed an MFA in fiction from UNC-Greensboro, where he was The Fred Chappell Fellow and Fiction Editor for The Greensboro Review. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of English at Georgia Regents University and on the Core Faculty in Converse College’s low-residency MFA program.

Personal version

I’ve had the great fortune to live in the Appalachian Mountains most of my life. I grew up in Newburg, PA (population: 300), a small farming town with a view of Blue Mountain to the north. My parents both taught, and even my older sister helped teach me to read in this house full of readers. From my family’s brick ranch, I could walk east a half mile to elementary school, north a quarter mile to my best friend Joe’s, or west a half mile to my grandparents’ and uncle’s farm. All of these places–home, school, friend’s, and farm, along with our church next door–gave me a great love of words and woods, field and flora, and of course, blueberries.

I’ve always loved to write. The first poem I ever read to an audience was an ode to my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Haller, titled “Hot Lips Haller.” It made both of us blush. Through high school and college I continued to work at this craft. I graduated from Lycoming College summa cum laude with a degree in English. From there I taught at a high school in Frederick County, Maryland for three years, and then entered the Masters program at Radford University in the mountains of Virginia. From 1989-2013, I continued working at Radford, teaching Creative Nonfiction, the Study of Fiction, American Literature, and Freshman Research and Writing. I earned an MFA in fiction from UNC-Greensboro, where I was The Fred Chappell Fellow and Fiction Editor for The Greensboro Review. Currently, I’m an Assistant Professor of English at Georgia Regents University and on the Core Faculty in Converse College’s low-residency MFA program.

I love mountains and rivers, love to hike on our farm every day with my wife and our dogs, love to work in the woods and the garden. And I still love to weave words together like my wife weaves baskets, both of us trying to shape something of value and beauty that will last.

JimAndJake300Audio Interviews & Readings

WVTF Public Radio

WVTF Public Radio‘s Gene Marrano interviewed me regarding two books of poetry, Her Secret Song and Burning Heaven, on February 5, 2009. In this interview, I also read selections from both books.

With Good Reason

With Good Reason, the only state-wide radio program in Virginia, aired this interview in September of 2006. It follows up on an article I wrote about a project my students do when we study Thoreau. In addition to reading from Walden, students also take Thoreau grocery shopping with them, and in turn, use his insights to analyze all the luxuries and necessities in a grocery store. To read the article titled “Luxuries vs. Necessities, or Traveling with Thoreau,” click here.

Learning to Love Grits

For a sample of Jim’s readings, please have a listen to “Learning to Love Grits” …

Clearstory Interview

Clearstory is a radio station based in Nasheville at 107.1 where River Jordan interviews authors and discusses books and literature.

About Harvest Interview

Nancy O’Mallon, filmmaker and creator of About Harvest, and an expert on blueberry history, interviewed me in November of 2010. About Harvest uses media to inform, educate and celebrate agricultural history, development, and food. (Go to the About Harvest website here)

Recent Posts

Fire Is Your Water

I’m thrilled to announce that my novel Fire Is Your Water will be published by Ohio UP in the spring of 2017.

Here’s a book cover description:

Ada Franklin is a young powwow doctor in the Pennsylvania Dutch, religious faith tradition. By saying sacred chants, she can remove warts, stanch bleeding, and “take out fire” to heal burns. That all changes on a June day in 1953 when the Franklin barn ignites into flame. Ada and her mother enter the burning building to rescue their animals. The scorching heat, the roar of the blaze, the shrill bellows of so many cows trapped inside—all of it changes Ada. For the first time, she fears death and—for the first time—she doubts God. After the fire, she no longer can heal. Then Ada meets Will Burk and his pet raven, Cicero. And then there is another fire.

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