Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bonnie Jo Campbell biography 400 words

AWP has asked for a 400-word biography of yours truly. This is the longest bio I've ever heard of. Below is what I came up with. Do any of you have any suggestion? By the way, this might be my new author photo.

Bonnie Jo Campbell is six feet tall and rides a donkey. She grew up on a small Michigan farm with her mother and four siblings in a house her grandfather Herlihy built in the shape of an H. She learned to castrate small pigs, milk Jersey cows, and make remarkable chocolate candy. When she left home for the University of Chicago to study philosophy, her mother rented out her room. She has since hitchhiked across the U.S. and Canada, scaled the Swiss Alps on her bicycle, and traveled with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus selling snow cones. As president of Goulash Tours Inc., she has organized and led adventure tours in Eastern Europe, including Russia, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria. She currently lives with her husband Christopher in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she practices weapons arts, holding the rank of Nidan in Koburyu kobudo.

Her newest work of fiction, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press, 2009), is a lush and rowdy collection of stories set in a rural Michigan landscape, where wildlife, jobs, and ways of life are vanishing; from this collection, “The Inventor, 1972" won the Eudora Welty prize from Southern Review. According to Alan Cheuse, “In these stories about cold, lonely, meth-drenched, working-class Michigan life, there's a certain beauty reaching something like the sublimity of a D.H. Lawrence story.” Her collection Women & Other Animals, (University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), which won the AWP award for short fiction, details the lives of extraordinary rural and small-town females; "The Smallest Man in the World," from W&OA, was awarded a Pushcart Prize. Her novel, Q Road (Scribner 2002), investigates a community in which development pressures are changing the character of the land; Q Road was named a Barnes & Noble Great New Writer book and was honorable mention for the top award. Her fiction has recently been published in Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Alaska Review, Boulevard, and Witness. The New York Times has called her stories “Bitter but sweetened by humor,” and Publisher’s Weekly said Campbell details, “domestic worlds where Martha Stewart would fear to tread.” German translations of her fiction have been published by Droemer-Knaur. In 2009, Kim Addonizio chose her collection of poems, Love Letters to Sons of Bitches, for the Center for Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook award. Campbell teaches at Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA program in Oregon. You can find her on Facebook or at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book Release Party Invitation

Book Release Party for Bonnie Jo Campbell’s
American Salvage

Sunday, May 24, 2009, 2:00 - 8:00
Bell's Brewery & Beer Garden
355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo, MI, 269-382-2332
Bonnie will read briefly at 3:00 pm
Readings by others will follow; sign up sheet will be available.

Win Prizes:
· American Salvage Cake Contest: Bring your cake, decorated with an American Salvage theme or just plain delicious.
· Come to the party via your most salvaged conveyance or vehicle.
· Most American Salvage temporary tattoos applied to one’s body; tattoos available at the event.

Michigan News Agency will sell copies of American Salvage ($18.95 + tax) and other BJC books. Mary Whalen, whose artwork brings to life the cover of American Salvage will display photographs and have prints for sale.

· Come read your own poems/stories in the beer garden
· Tell anecdotes for posterity
· Pin the Tail on the Donkey all day long
· See & and maybe win Kalamazoo’s Biggest Ball of String
· Meet someone from the Geek Group
· Bring acoustic musical instruments and play

Also, come and celebrate informally the arrival of summer, as well as class of ’80 Comstock High School 29th Reunion, John Dickmon's Birthday. Halfway between Mike Campbell & George Campbell’s birthdays. Beer, wine, books, and food for sale.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Literary Lunch with Susan, Jamie, Heather

The only book we looked at during lunch was the chapbook sized pamphlet The Manly Art of Knitting, but because we had four writers in our company, it was (in retrospect) a meeting of the Screen Porch Literary Guild. Heather Finch was the guest of honor because she drove the farthest; you might know her from the People’s Food Co-op or from Water Street Coffee Joint. Currently Heather is living in Sturgis with her ma, who will not let her have a goat. We all advised her about creating a blog called Living in Sturgis, or something like that. Award-winning poet Susan Ramsey came by with Swedish Spritz cookies—she did not bring the camel shaped cookies, but only the round ones. She was knitting a scarf even as she ate, talked and read from the Manly Art of Knitting. She suggested that Heather Finch apply to the Notre Dame MFA creative writing program. Jamie Blake, aspiring young adult author brought three loaves of French bread to assure we had the anti-Atkins lunch. She admired Heather Finch’s sweater, which had two owls on it, one that said “whoooo” and the other said “whom.” Christopher was with us, of course, and Mike Campbell happened to show up. We ate French Onion Soup and some turkey tetrazini and bread and butter and then cookies and candy for dessert, and we drank coffee. Heather told us about her bad ex-boyfriend and said we should kick him if we see him and we will.

The cool grainy photo of Susan is from her MFA graduation party; the other one is ofJamie Blake and me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kalamazoo Art Hop

The first Friday of every month, downtown Kalamazoo has an Art Hop at which folks can view art and eat snacks and join in the fun of being downtown. The most popular Art Hop of the year is the December event, because folks like to buy Christmas gifts, and in December, the Kalamazoo Public Library invites writers to hang out at tables and try to sell signed copies of their books. In truth, few books move, and I was thinking I'd skip it, until I remembered that I should start marketing American Salvage. Though it is six months from publication, I should be alerting folks, just in case it might make a difference. So I told Marti Fritz at the library that so long as I get to sit by Andy Mozina and Elizabeth Kerlikowske, I would be there, December 5, 6 pm to 9 pm. So now I just have to figure out how to get busy Christmas shoppers excited about a book that won't exist for another six months. Any thoughts? Apparently, Elizabeth K. has organized up a kind of poetry reading also, that will be going on the Children's Room.

For more info about the library Art Hop event, go to this link:

If you want more information about the December Art Hop in general, or a complete schedule of fun and free snacks, you can get it through this link:

As self-promotion, I should mention that Kenyon Review (a few months back) conducted an interview with me, in which they talked about American Salvage and you can read that interview here.

Oh, and speaking of submitting work to magazines, I got this email the today, from Ploughshares, with the subject line "Your submission to Ploughshares." The email contained this message:

2008-12-01 17:43:39 (GMT -5:00)

This is especially interesting since I have nothing submitted to Ploughshares at this time.

This photo above is my niece Kellee on Halloween dressed as a ZOMBIE GARDENER.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

First Page Proofs

Norma VanRheenen read the page proofs for American Salvage and she found a couple of actual errors that I had not found in my reading--it's amazing how those errors hide from the author. So I read the page proofs as well and made more changes than I really ought to have made, maybe a hundred changes in word choice and other minor details. I changed the title of one of the stories from "The Solution to Ben's Problem" to "The Solution to Brian's Problem," because really there aren't people named Ben around here. According to my managing editor Kristin Harpster Lawrence, authors don't normally get copies of the second page proofs, but I asked her if she would send them to me so that maybe I could get Carla to read those, since she should be rested up from reading Rhoda Janzen's book. One gets so few books published in a lifetime that one hates to have an error in any of them.

This photo was taken at Steve and Shawn Wagner's House (Shawn Wagner is someone who appears in the acknowledgments page), and we had just been trap shooting. There were lots of mushrooms in their yard, and they were talking about eating some of them. But look what happened to Alice, I said.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Page Proofs

The page proofs have arrived for my collection, and I was given two weeks to proofread them. And now I have wasted five of those days grading papers and cleaning my office (I always have to clean my office before critical stages in the publishing process). Wayne State paid good money to copyedit my book, but they don't hire proofreaders, so I need to make sure I catch all mistakes at this stage. After several beers last month, Carla Vissers had agreed to proofread the book for me, but when I contacted her a few days ago, saying I had to have my book proofread by November 11, she told me too goll darned bad, that she was proofreading Rhoda Janzen's book, also due back to the publisher November 11. So, it's not enough that Rhoda is taller than me and slimmer, or that she has a PhD after her name or got a six figure advance, but now she has co-opted my proofreader. Why, if Rhoda weren't fabulous, I might think a bad thought about her. By coincidence, Rhoda and I have the same size feet, size twelve, which means Carla can't use that as an excuse for rejecting me and choosing Rhoda. This is a photograph of Carla.

Update: Norma VanRheenen has agreed to proofread my book. Whew! That was a close one.