August 10, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Retirement | Dinty Moore Keeps on Writing, Leaves Undeniable Impact on Students

Dinty W. Moore, portrait

Dinty W. Moore

By Regina Yoong

Dinty W. Moore may have retired from Ohio University in May, but keep an eye out for two more books forthcoming this year.

That’s on top of five books and two co-edited collections he’s already published.

Moore joined the Ohio University faculty in 2007 and a year later took over as the director of creative writing in the English Department.

Moore’s memoir Between Panic & Desire (University of Nebraska Press) was winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize for 2008, and his most recent volume, The Story Cure: A Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir (Random House/Ten Speed) was recently translated and released by Houlang Publishing Co., Beijing, China.

“I’ve managed to publish five books during my time here, with a sixth forthcoming, and also to edit a few anthologies of other writers’ work. My department and the College of Arts & Sciences have been supportive along the way, allowing for this amount of productivity, and I am eternally grateful,” says Moore.

“I believe that art saves lives, and that the sort of exploration that you find in literary prose and poetry creates new type of truth and discovery that illuminate the human experience. That sounds lofty, and most of the time I am just trying to write a coherent sentence, but in the end I am motivated by the endless and intriguing possibilities of art,” he explains.

As a Teacher of Writing

Moore’s love for his students and teaching is undeniable. Ask any student, past or present, about their experiences with Moore, and they will resonate that truth.

“Each class I teach, whether undergraduate or graduate students, presents memorable teaching moments,” he says. “It is gratifying to the highest degree when former students come back to see me having published books of their own.

“This is happening now with some of my former undergraduates, and all along my graduate students have been publishing and winning awards. Our creative writing program is a very fertile field, and I love being one of the farmhands.”

Some of his students include Kelly Sundberg, who published Goodbye Sweet Girl (Harper Collins); Sarah Einstein, who wrote Mot: A Memoir (University of Georgia Press), winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Nonfiction Book award; and Liz Stephens, The Days Are Gods (University of Nebraska Press), winner of the Western Literature Association’s Frederick Manfred Award.

Sundberg calls Moore the best mentor that she could have asked for during her time pursuing her Ph.D. at OHIO.

Dinty Moore and Kelly Sundberg at the 2018 Writer's Harvest.

Dinty Moore and Kelly Sundberg at the 2018 Writer’s Harvest.

“I went from having a few published essays to an entire body of work, including a published memoir. He was the first reader of everything that I wrote during that time, and his feedback helped invaluably, but he didn’t just help me with my writing. He taught me the ins and outs of publishing, advised me on my academic job search, and with his help, I landed a tenure-track job after graduation,” Sundberg says.

“More than all of that though, Dinty is just a very kind soul who deeply cares about his students and community. Some of my favorite memories in Athens were the (gatherings) that Dinty hosted for the creative writing community where conversations on his front porch went late into the summer evenings,” Sundberg reminisces.

“I was a single parent during my Ph.D., and Dinty would always check in to see how my son and I were doing, sometimes leaving little gifts for my son in my office mailbox. I knew I could pop into Dinty’s office any time that his door was open and ask for advice. Getting a Ph.D. is unimaginably hard at times, but I felt deeply cared for during mine. Now that I’m out of the program and in my own job, I hope that Dinty will be a lifelong friend to me, and I hope that I can take some of what he modeled and use it in my own teaching,” she adds.

Christine Adams, a doctoral candidate in nonfiction, shares about her first encounter with Moore.

“I was intimidated by his sense of craft, and so when I came to OHIO and took a Creative Nonfiction workshop with him I was pleasantly surprised. He was not the towering and imposing figure I imagined, but a funny and kind teacher. More than anything, he imposed rigor on my drafting process. He is always encouraging his students to write and write and write some more—because eventually you will produce good work.”

Hugh Martin, another Ph.D. candidate in nonfiction, reiterates a similar sentiment.

“It’s hard to express how much Dinty has meant to the spirit and soul of our program. He was a generous, thoughtful, and charismatic presence who I’ll miss seeing in Ellis and at campus events. His work ethic and individualized attention to students was unmatched. His teaching, mentorship, leadership and humor will be greatly missed. I’m sad to see him go but wish him the best in retirement.”

Linda Zionkowski, Professor of English and Director of Graduate Students, comments about her experience working with Moore, “I’ll always remember Dinty as tireless in celebrating the accomplishments of Creative Writing graduate students; he was their very best promoter and most sincere fan.”

Besides being a great professor and mentor, Moore was a genuine supporter of his students. Adams says she owes him a huge debt of gratitude. “I really was considering giving up on the degree entirely. Dinty gave me a place in nonfiction. He told me he believed in me and believed in my writing. He was one of the first people to stand by me. He did the right thing at a personal cost, and he gave me space to try to recover and find my voice when no one else would. I think we often discount how important it is to have someone believe you as a woman, and to believe in you. Dinty did that for me, and I will always be thankful to him for that.”

As a Friend and Colleague

Not only was Moore was well-loved by his students, but also by friends and colleagues from the English Department.

Eric LeMay, Associate Professor of Nonfiction, paints an intimate portrait of Moore’s unswerving kindness for people.

“Who could we call when my wife was in labor and she needed things from our house? Dinty and Renita (Dinty’s wife). Who were the only folks to visit our newborn in the hospital who weren’t family? Dinty and Renita. Who has been the best ‘uncle’ and ‘aunt’ to our son ever since? Dinty and Renita. Who came to the hospital to help my wife and son when I had cancer surgery? Dinty and Renita. Who came back to the hospital when I had yet another cancer surgery? Dinty and Renita. Who are the best of people?”

The answer to the last question, goes even without stating, is Dinty and Renita.

Mary Kate Hurley, Assistant Professor in Medieval Literature, expresses that working with Moore has been one of the great honors of her professional life.

“He is a model of collegiality and kindness. His humor and fundamentally good nature have frequently made dark times lighter, and difficult conversations more fruitful. I have learned from him a great deal about how to be not only a good colleague and mentor, but also how to be a humane colleague and mentor, one who acts ethically and with care for the community.  I am so grateful to have spent my early career with Dinty as my senior colleague,” she says.

Retirement plans

During his time at OHIO, Moore has been awarded the Jeanette G. Grasselli Brown Faculty Teaching Award in the Humanities (2012), the Stanley Lindberg Award for Literary Editing from Pacific Lutheran University (2011), and the Nancy Dasher Award (2010) from the Ohio College English Association for Best Book in the Creative Writing Category. He has also been a keynote speaker at more than a dozen writing conferences and has been invited to present his work and teach workshops in Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Scotland, Spain, and Switzerland.

When asked about his plans after retirement, Moore says that he will continue his creative writing endeavors.

“I hope to be busy, still writing, and still editing Brevity, the flash nonfiction magazine I founded 20 years ago,” he says.

“Lately I’ve been invited to teach writing workshops worldwide, in Ireland, Mexico, Scotland, Spain, and Switzerland, and I hope some of those invitations continue, especially now that my schedule is more open than ever.”

To stay up to date with Moore’s creative pursuits and wisdom, follow him on Twitter.

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