Jim Minick is the author of The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family, and 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, and Wind, and for thirteen years, he wrote a monthly column for The Roanoke Times. Currently, he is a core faculty member teaching creative nonfiction in Converse College’s low-residency MFA program. He is also pursuing an MFA in fiction from UNC-Greensboro, where he is The Fred Chappell Fellow and Fiction Editor for The Greensboro Review.
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. Currently, I’m a core faculty member, teaching creative nonfiction, in Converse College’s low-residency MFA program. Also, I’m pursuing an MFA in fiction from UNC-Greensboro, where I am The Fred Chappell Fellow and Fiction Editor for The Greensboro Review.
I love the mountains, 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.
Audio 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.
- Click this link to listen in your browser, or right-click to download the WVTF interview file for later
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.
- Click this link to listen in your browser, or right-click to download the WGR interview file for later
Learning to Love Grits
For a sample of Jim’s readings, please have a listen to “Learning to Love Grits” …
Clearstory is a radio station based in Nasheville at 107.1 where River Jordan interviews authors and discusses books and literature.
- Click this link to listen in your browser, or right-click to download the interview for later listening.
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)