Robert Root

photo by Reg Saner


How to Develop Your Personality by Betsy Root, a collection of her newspaper columns from 1937, is available as an e-book and as a paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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.


Biography

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Author's Bio


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 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. His most recent book is a family memoir, Happenstance.

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. His future writing projects tentatively--very tentatively--include Walking Home Ground, a book of place set in Wisconsin andThe Arc of the Escarpment, about the Niagara Escarpment.

Bob is presently a faculty member in creative nonfiction in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Ashland University in Ohio and a nonfiction teacher at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Selected Works

"With its multiple modes (vignette, meditation, photograph, ekphrasis), it subverts and redefines memoir, always asking how a person might seek to know himself within the larger context of nation and history. Robert Root's prose is a refreshing joy to read.”—Patrick Madden,
Creative Nonfiction
The best of the "Thinking Out Loud" series of essays written 1980-1987 for broadcast on Central Michigan University's "Morning Edition" program
This quiet, contemplative and profound book is a celebration of love of places from one of our best thinkers about love of place. --David Gessner
A contemporary writer explores the landscape of his new home in the footsteps of earlier writers.
An anthology of essays and narratives of place, with commentary by the authors about the role of place in their writing
“Root’s story speaks to the human quest for meaning and connection through narrative”
--Kim Barnes
This anthology is the comprehensive, indispensable introduction to the way creative nonfiction is written today.
Nonfiction, Writing
A "poetics" of nonfiction that is "insightful, informative, and immensely practical."-- Kristen Iversen
“a fascinating journey into the mind of the master”
--Kathleen Wildman