2006 DONALD MURRAY PRIZE WINNER
The Donald Murray Prize, awarded by the Special Interest Group in Creative Nonfiction of the National Council of Teachers of English and including an honorarium of $500 sponsored by Thomson/Wadsworth Publishing, honors the best essay or work of creative nonfiction on the subjects of teaching and/or writing during the calendar year. The 2006 Murray Prize was given to Robert Root for "A Double Life," published in Writing on the Edge (16:2 Summer 2006: 69-81). The essay is about being a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. The judges were Lynn Bloom, Doug Hesse, and Rebecca Faery.
NEW ITEMS OF INTEREST
"Hiking Wisconsin with 'Ghosts' of the Ice Age"
A short online essay about connecting to the glacial past along the Ice Age Trail at Zocalo Public Square
"Thinking Like an Island"
An essay on Isle Royale in Isle Royale from the AIR: Poems, Stories, and Songs from 25 Year of Artists-in-Residence, edited by Phillip Sterling and published by Caffeinated Press.
Walking Home Ground: In the Footsteps of Muir, Leopold, and Derleth
Bob's book about Wisconsin, now available through Wisconsin Historical Society Press and other booksellers
"The Welcome Oak"
An essay with audio and text at Wisconsin Life
An essay on time and change in a hometown scene at Ascent.
"Seul Choix Point: Of Shells and Strata, Time and Terrain"
An essay for the Narrative Maps Project of the Great Lakes Review.
"Caves" and "Researching 'Caves'"
An essay and a research note in Kentucky English Bulletin Spring 2016 issue
Dictionary of Midwestern Literature. Volume Two: Dimensions of the Midwestern Literary Imagination. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016: 179-184.
"Synchronicity in Nature and Life"
An audio essay for Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio
Haibun at Contemporary Haibun Online 12:1 (April 2016)
"Synchronicity and Structure"
A craft talk from AWP 2015 online at Triquarterly
"Wild and Precious"
An essay published online in Under The Sun (Issue 3: June 2015)
"The Matter of My Book"
A craft talk from AWP 2014 online at Triquarterly
The Driving Lesson
"The Driving Lesson," an essay by Robert Root, posted on Thread (April 1, 2015)
The Humble Essayist
Commentary on a paragraph from "Days in the Branch" by Joseph Mitchell (Winter 2015)
Bob Root (Robert L. Root Jr.) believes he has been a writer since he was around eight years old, when he came home with a friend from a showing of Superman and the Mole Men, pried open the lock on his mother’s typewriter, and created a series of very short adventures about Tiger Boy. Since then, his life and career have centered on his writing, his study of the way other writers compose, and his teaching of writers and writing teachers. His bachelor’s degree from State University College, Geneseo, New York, was in English education and theater and his graduate degrees from the University of Iowa were in English literature, but he also did post-graduate work in composition and rhetoric before beginning twenty-eight years of teaching at Central Michigan University. There he taught courses in composition and rhetoric, nonfiction, editing, English education, literature, and media. He retired from full time teaching in 2004 to devote more time to writing creative nonfiction and to writing about it.
A frequent presenter on creative nonfiction and composition at national, international, and regional conferences, his scholarship and teaching led to many articles and books. They include: a book for writers, Wordsmithery, which went through two editions; a book for teachers of writing (co-edited with Michael Steinberg), Those Who Do Can: Teachers Writing, Writers Teaching; and an anthology of creative nonfiction (also co-edited with Michael Steinberg) The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction, now in its sixth edition. His essay “Collage, Montage, Mosaic, Vignette, Episode, Segment,” originally published in The Fourth Genre, has been used often in creative writing courses across the country. He has also published three books examining how nonfiction writers do what they do, Working at Writing: Columnists and Critics Composing, E. B. White: The Emergence of an Essayist, and The Nonfictionist's Guide: On Reading & Writing Creative Nonfiction.
His creative nonfiction includes essays of place published in literary journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Colorado Review, Rivendell, Ecotone, The Concord Saunterer, and divide; “Knowing Where You’ve Been,” in Ascent, was named a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2004; "Postscript to a Postscript to 'The Ring of Time'" in The Pinch was a Notable Essay in 2010 as well as a Pushcart Nominee, and "Time and Tide" in Ascent was a Notable Essay in 2011. As an essayist he has been an Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Isle Royale National Park; his anthology co-edited with Jill Burkland, The Island Within Us: Isle Royale Artists-in-Residence 1991-1998, won the 2001 Excellence in Media Award from the National Parks Service. He edited and contributed to Landscapes with Figures: The Nonfiction of Place, an anthology of essays and writers’ commentaries on their composing published in 2007 by the University of Nebraska Press. His first full-length work of creative nonfiction, Recovering Ruth: A Biographer’s Tale, was named a Michigan Notable Book in 2004 by the Library of Michigan. His second book-length work of creative nonfiction, Following Isabella , chronicles his attempt to learn how to live in Colorado by tracing the trail of nineteenth-century travel writer Isabella Bird around the Front Range. He has also published a collection of his essays, Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Place, a collection of his essays for radio,Limited Sight Distance: Essay for Airwaves, and an edition of columns by his grandmother, Betsy Root, titled How to Develop Your Personality. He is the author of a family memoir, Happenstance. His twentieth book, Walking Home Ground: In the Footsteps of Muir, Leopold, and Derleth, a book of place set in Wisconsin, was published in Fall 2017.
From 1999 through 2013 Bob Root was a contributing editor for Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, one of the first literary journals devoted exclusively to literary nonfiction. He continues to talk about creative nonfiction at creative writing and English education conferences and has been a visiting writer and speaker in writing programs at colleges and universities around the country. In addition to essays and haibun, he is presently at work on The Arc of the Escarpment, a travel narrative tracking the Niagara Escarpment across Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and New York, and Literary Remains: Essaying Myself and Others, a polyptych memoir.
From 2008 until 2017 Bob was a visiting faculty member in creative nonfiction in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Ashland University in Ohio. He is currently a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and a freelance editor of essays, memoirs, and literary nonfiction. He lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin.