I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1953. My family moved to Temple, Texas, just up IH 35 from Austin, when I was eleven years old. I went to high school in Temple. Then I attended the University of Texas at Austin, graduating in 1975. From there, I went to Texas A&M University worked on my Master’s degree. I moved back to Austin and began working at Austin Community College and wrote my Master’s thesis, collecting the poems and writing a biography of Texas poet Leonard Doughty. (Between 2000-2002, I returned to A&M and completed all my course work toward the doctorate.) I have been at ACC since 1978. During those years, I have served in several capacities. I began as tutor of English and Writing Skills and became an adjunct teacher, and worked in the testing centers. During that time, I was the President of the Part-Time Faculty Association.
In December, 1979, I received my Master’s Degree in English from Texas A&M University. In 1980, I was hired as a full-time teacher in Developmental Writing and served as Department Head of Writing Skills until 1988. For three years, I was Division Chair of Developmental Studies for the Riverside and Southwest Campuses — the division, at the time, in charge of developmental reading, writing, math, study skills, and ESL. About that time — 1988-1991, I founded, published, and edited a newsstand quarterly magazine, MAN!, devoted to men’s issues and recovery issues. In 1992, I transferred to the English Department, where I taught until 2005, primarily in the Riverside Campus. For two years — from fall 2000 to summer 2002 — I took a leave of absence and a sabbatical and completed all my course work toward my doctorate. Over the years, I have taught various classes: developmental writing, composition, American literature, world literature, humanities, and creative writing. The fall of 2003 I took over as department head of creative writing. In the summer of 2004, I moved back to Rio Grande Campus. In July 2005, I began serving as Dean of the Arts and Humanities Division. I continued in that capacity until Fall 2015, at which time I returned to the classroom, this time in Humanities and Creative Writing.
Over the years, I have been involved in various writing activities. I have written for and/or edited various college publications, the beginnings of our college newspaper and a faculty newsletter. In 2004-2005, I edited four issues of the ACC’s student literary magazine, The Rio Review. I served as book review editor for a very fine publication in the 1980s named The Texas Humanist and published reviews there. I have also worked on the journals MAN!, Enkidu, Brazos River Review, and Callaloo. I have published essays and reviews in the Dallas Morning News, Texas Observer, Journey, New Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and Texas Books in Review. Some of these have been republished in books. I have published poetry in various small journals and a few have been republished in books. An essay of memoir, “Recovering from a Good Mother” was included in the volume Through the Fire, edited by Mary Leloo (The Crossing Press,1991). A second, “The Stuff of Dreams” was included in Stricken (Dalton, 2007) I have three books of poetry: Text and Commentary (1993), The Road Home (2006) and As Long As We Need (2012). I also have a chapbook of poems, Established Parameters, which pairs poems with paintings by Austin artist Shawn Camp. I also have another volume, ShapeShifter, that has almost been published several times. Another called Refrain is almost ready for a publisher.
My book publishing began in the early 1980s when William A. Owens asked me to co-edit the Letters of Roy Bedichek (University of Texas Press 1985). After that I edited New Growth: Contemporary Short Fiction by Texas Writers (1989). In the last ten years, I have been writing textbooks. One is a handbook, written with Lennis Polnac and Tom Cameron, The Common Sense Handbook and Guide for Writers; another is an anthology of short fiction, Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary, which I was asked to take over after its editor Charles Bohner died. For a few years, off and on, I have been writing a book that serves as a personal poetics, a kind of memoir/poetic guide book, called The House with a Hundred Doors and a Thousand Windows. You can find it, as it develops and changes, in the “Writings” tab of this web site.
I have published several dozen poems in the following publications: Enkidu, MAN!, Sulphur River Literary Review, Cider Press Review, Teaching in the Two-Year College, The Brazos Review, Windhover, Concho River Review, Angel Face, Texas Observer, Timber Creek Review, Indefinite Space, Words of Wisdom, Prose Ax, Pikeville Review, Poetry Motel, Cortland Review, Thing Magazine, Visions International, and others. Poems have appeared in the following anthologies: Best Texas Writing I, Feeding the Crow, Is This Forever of What?, three Texas Poetry Calendars, two Houston Poetry Festival Anthologies, and several Di-Verse-City anthologies. And I have honored to be asked to read poems at various festivals, schools, and literary venues.
Over the years, there has been a stray honor. In 1983, I was selected for the volume Outstanding Young Men of America. MAN! Magazine was named on of the best ten new magazines of 1988 by The Library Journal. In Summer 2000, I was selected to participate in an National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar in regional studies. At A&M, I received a Humanities Center fellowship and stipend. I was also selected to join the honor society Phi Kappa Phi (this was a great change from my undergraduate days) and I was included in to the publication The Chancellor’s List. I was selected to participate in The Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, August 2004 and in the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, July 2006. I am “officially” listed as a poet with Poets and Writers. And I have been included in a couple editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Best Teachers.
So, I can tell you that during my adult life, I have had an almost compulsive interest in three areas that overlap, at least for me they do: teaching and pedagogy, poetry and fiction, and Texas. These three major interests force into my life several other interests: nature, contemporary culture and politics, critical theory, gender issues, and literacy. In all these endeavors as teacher and writer, I try my best — with frequent spectacular failures — to get at some truths about our lives as human beings. I have great trust in our emotional lives, but believe that it takes a great deal of intelligence and learning to understand our emotional lives. I have great trust in our ability to learn and to think, but believe that often those skills overpower our emotional intelligence. I am particularly concerned about our young adults who are so thoroughly taught by our schools and general culture to shut down emotionally AND to distrust individual thought and intelligence. In other words, I advocate the training of our nerves and our brains — hence my love of teaching, writing and literature. I know of no other activity that connects so well our individual lives to the lives of other fellow humans.
On top of all this, I am a proud and happy husband and parent. My first son graduated from DePaul University with a degree in Anthropology and minor in Philosophy. My second and third sons (ages 17 and 12) are growing up just fine.