Writer in Residence Brian Griffin (1998-2001)
After attending a workshop taught by novelist Peter Taylor at the University of Memphis, Brian Griffin abandoned a career in photography to become a writer. At age 32 he left his native Tennessee and entered graduate school at the University of Virginia, where he earned his M.F.A. in Fiction Writing.
As a member of the Board of the Knoxville Writers’ Guild, Griffin chairs the Taylor Prize committee, which has established and now manages the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, a unique collaborative effort between the Knoxville Writers’ Guild and the University of Tennessee Press. “I hope this national prize will honor the memory and the literary legacy of the late Peter Taylor, one of this country’s finest novelists,” said Griffin. “But above all, I hope this prize will bring exciting new books into print. Who knows–maybe we’ll discover magnificent new writers who otherwise would go unnoticed.”
Griffin has published his poetry and short fiction in a number of literary journals, including Shenandoah, Mississippi Review, New Delta Review, Snake National Review, Southern Poetry Review, New Millennium Writings, The Southerner, and others. The New York Times compared Griffin’s collection of linked stories, Sparkman in the Sky, to Hemingway’s early work, calling the stories “a collective exemplar of how things go in a certain place in our time.” The reviewer wrote, “It is no knock on Brian Griffin to say that he has learned from Hemingway, among others. After all, Miles Davis was no less gifted a musician, no less original, for having learned from Dizzy Gillespie. and Griffin has his own original qualities, his own subtleties, his own sly humor–even a gift for farce…This book is beyond promising.” Griffin is currently working on a novel and a new collection of stories.
Griffin received the Mary McCarthy Award for Short Fiction in 1997.