The Writing Life

Emilio DeGrazia
Saturday, April 27, 2019 - 10:00am to 11:30am
Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419

As someone who has been an active writer for more than half a century, I have benefited from the prestige and authority conferred on the general culture by the invention of the printing press.  Since that time books have had a short 500-year run, and a mixed success, as cultural influences.  While the book’s influence seems to be in decline since the advent of the digital age, we ironically have more books being published today than at any other time in history.  What roles do contemporary writers now fulfill, and how should a “serious” writer define this role?  I hope to address these issues from my own personal experiences as writer and editor, in the hope that my example is at once typical in some basic ways and therefore instructive.

Emilio DeGrazia, a long-time resident of Winona, Minnesota, taught at Winona State University from 1969 to 2002, and continues to write and edit from his home there.  He founded Great River Review in 1977, and it currently is the official literary journal for the creative writing students at the University of Minnesota.  He has had a long and varied history as a writer.  A first collection of short fiction, Enemy Country (New Rivers Press), was selected by Anne Tyler for a Writer’s Choice Award, and a novel, Billy Brazil (New Rivers Press), was chosen for a Minnesota Voices award. A second story collection, Seventeen Grams of Soul, received a Minnesota Book Award in 1995, and a second novel, A Canticle for Bread and Stones, appeared in 1996.  In the past few years DeGrazia published Burying the Tree, his first collection of essays, a memoir (of sorts) called Walking on Air in a Field of GreensSeasonings, a first collection of poetry, and Eye Shadow, creative non-fiction.  He also has had two plays produced and has served two terms as Winona’s Poet Laureate.