Photo by Carole Steinberg Berk

Interview with Michael Steinberg Oct/Nov 2010 Vol 23 No.2

Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, Michael Steinberg, Founding Editor Tribute Issue



--February 26, 2015, Visiting Writer, Warren Community College, Washington, NJ.
Craft talk and reading

--AWP, April 9, 2015, Minneapolis, MN. Two panels--Fashioning a Text:
Discovering Form and Shape in Literary Nonfiction and
Confronting Our Fears: Turning Adversity into Art.


Craft essay, Planning For Surprise: Writing and Teaching the Personal Essay was published by Triquarterly

Another craft essay, One Story, Two Narrators: Reflection’s Role In Writing and Teaching Personal Narratives appears under "Nonfiction" in Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices aSolstice

Earlier and much different versions of both pieces appeared on my blog # 3, Finding the Inner Story in Literary Nonfiction and # 19 and 20, Expecting the Unexpected: The Role of Discovery and Surprise in Literary Nonfiction. You can find both in the Archives blog


July 13-16 2014, Boston, MA, Solstice/​ Pine Manor MFA residency-- reading, individual conferences, and craft talk, "One Story"Two Voices: The Reflective Narrator in Personal Essays and Memoir Solstice MFA

March 10, 2014, Craft talk, Composition Faculty, Santa Barbara CA, City College, Santa Barbara, CA

February 26-March 2, 2014, AWP Convention, Seattle, WA. Two panels: "The Eye or the 'I'" and "Planning For Surprise."


July, 2013 Still Pitching ebook reprint Dzanc Books, Amazon, Kobo Books, To find it at Barnes and Noble, Google Barnes and Noble, Still Pitching ebook

May, 2013
Craft Essay, "Did It Really Happen That Way?: The Memoirist As Unreliable Narrator, " adapted from an AWP panel talk in March, 2013. Appears in TriQuarterly Online, spring, 2013. One of five pieces adapted from the AWP/​Boston panel "Looking for Real-Life Humberts: The Unreliable Narrator in Creative Nonfiction" (Michael Steinberg, Daniel Stolar, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Tom Larson, Mimi Schwartz). Clique on Triquarterly . For all five pieces go to Triquarterly views They're on the right side under "Views."


AWP BOSTON, Feb 2013 6-9

Panel: "Looking for Real-life Humberts: The Unreliable Narrator
in Creative Nonfiction"

May 17-19, 2013, River Teeth Writer's Conference, Ashland University, Ashland Ohio

Panel on Structure in Memoir with Joe Mackall and Jill Christman and individual manuscript conferences

November 7-10, 2013, Sanibel Island Writer's Conference, craft talk on double voice narratives , a reading, and individual manuscript workshops Sanibel

November 4 and 5, 2013. Guest writer, University of Central Florida. A series of class visits, a craft talk on voice and persona, and a reading


I was born in New York, in Rockaway Beach, Queens, and I came of age in the 1950s. When I became a mid-life memoirist, I found that my richest work invariably resulted from mining my most vivid and powerful childhood and adolescent memories. In writing the memoir, Still Pitching, I discovered that almost everything important that shaped my adult identity--my passion for baseball, my love of books, theater, rock and roll, jazz and travel, as well as my stubborn tenacity and persistence, my sense of myself as an outsider, and my predilection for kvetching--all grew out of my New York Jewish childhood. I left New York when I was twenty-five and came to Michigan State in the mid-60s to get an M.A. and Ph.D. in English. Though I've lived and taught in Michigan for the better part of the last four decades, in my head, heart--and in my writing--I've never left New York.

Since I was a child, I've loved books and writing. In fact, I'd always harbored dreams becoming a writer. But I didn't seriously pursue that impulse until I was in my mid-forties. The reason being that I was not a very good poet or fiction writer--the two most prominent literary forms at the time. And because I'd read and taught so much "great" literature, I'd virtually talked myself into believing that my own writing would never measure up. For many years then, I was a writing/​composition teacher, a journalist, an occasional playwright, and a director of plays. Early on in my teaching career, however, I'd become enamored of the personal essay. I continued to write, write about, and teach the essay for almost two decades. In the early-90s, when creative nonfiction started to become more prominent, I began sending my work out to literary journals. At the same time, I wrote several essays about the form. In 1992, I went back to school, and in 1994, I got an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.



Still Pitching: A Memoir, Winner, 2003 ForeWord Magazine/​Independent Press Memoir of the Year. Michigan State University Press, 2003

The memoir centers on the young narrator's coming-of age in New York City from 1947 through the 1958. In addition to the narrator's personal story, the book covers the time during which three New York Major League baseball teams--The Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants--played in and won the World Series ten times in eleven years.

Peninsula: Essays and Memoirs From Michigan, Finalist, 2000 ForeWord Magazine/​Independent Press and Great Lakes Book Sellers Anthology of the Year.Michigan State University Press, 2000

A collection of personal essays and memoirs by writers who were born in or migrated to Michigan. The anthology offers a spectrum of experiences and impressions based on the various places and locations where these writers visited and/​or lived.

The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/​on Creative Nonfiction ( 6h edition, co-edited with Robert Root)
1998-2014, Simon and Schuster?Allyn and Bacon/​LongmanPierson

An anthology, now in a sixth edition, it has become a standard text in a number of college creative nonfiction and advanced composition courses.

Those Who Do, Can: Teachers Writing, Writers Teaching, NCTE, 1996

A co-authored (with Robert Root) sourcebook of writing and teaching based on the both author's experience as founders of the Traverse Bay Workshops for writing teachers K-College (1986-1993).


In 1998, Steinberg founded Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, one of three literary journals that exclusively publish works of creative/​literary nonfiction.


I'm Almost Famous, written with“Boogie” Bob Baldori. Apollo Theater in Chicago August/​September, 1984.


From 1984-1993, Steinberg directed ten contemporary plays (Sam Shepard's True West" and Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles" among them). All ten were staged in theaters in and around the Lansing, Michigan area. Eight won Lansing State Journal "Thesbie"Awards for directing, acting, and/​or best drama.


Steinberg taught writing and literature at Michigan State University for 27 years. In addition, he was the founder and co-coordinator (with bob Root) of the Traverse Bay Summer Writing Workshops for Teachers (1986-1993), and the Michigan State University Overseas Writing Program (1990-1993). Since 1999, he has been on the faculty of three low-residency MFA programs: Vermont College; Stonecoast/​University of Southern Maine, and currently, the Solstice/​Pine Manor College program in Boston. He is a member of the founding faculty of the latter two programs.

He has presented workshops, craft talks and seminars at many colleges and universities, as well as at national and international writers' conferences including the Prague Summer Writing Program, the Paris Writer's Conference, the Geneva (Switzerland) Writer's Conference, the Kachemak Bay Writer’s Conference in Homer, Alaska, the California State University Summer Arts Festival, Writers' in Paradise in St. Petersburg (Florida), the Chautauqua Summer Writer’s Conference, and the Sanibel Island Writer’s Conference--among several others. In June of 2007, he was the Distinguished Nonfiction Writer-in-Residence at the NYU Summer Writing Intensive.

Currently, he’s a Writer-In Residence and founding faculty member at the Solstice/​Pine Manor College low residency MFA program in Boston


Over the past fifteen years Steinberg has published numerous personal essays and memoirs, as well as interviews and commentary in journals such as The Missouri Review, New Letters, The Bellingham Review, and The Florida Review, among many others. Steinberg's essays and memoirs have been awarded several national awards, including The Missouri Review Editor's Prize, The National Harness Racing Writers of America Award for Feature Writing, a Writing Self Award, and a Roberts Writing Award. He's also had several pieces cited as "Notable Essays" in Best American Essays and Best American Sports Writing. Six others have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

He's also written reviews for The New York Times Sunday Book Review, as well as many feature magazine articles for national and regional magazines. From 1974-1976, he wrote a bimonthly column for the Detroit Free Press Sunday Magazine.

Steinberg divides his time between Lansing and Northport, Michigan where he lives with Carole Steinberg-Berk, a visual artist and museum docent.


Steinberg has a PhD and MA in American Literature from Michigan State University, a MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and a BA in English/​Theater Arts from Hofstra University.


“My favorite book of the year. An astonishing look at the pains of growing up.”
--Dan Smith, WVTF Virginia, Public Radio
“Wherever readers look, they’ll find a different essay, a different voice, a different Michigan.”
-- Crab Orchard Review
Anthology of/on Creative Nonfiction
“Offers the most thorough and teachable introduction available to this exciting genre.”
--John Boe, Editor, Writing on the Edge
Stage Play
"An evening of energy, hot music, laughs and sheer entertainment." Lansing State Journal
"Root and Steinberg will be on the shelf near my desk that holds the most important books about the teaching of writing." -Donald Murray, A Writer Teaches Writing and Write to Learn
Literary Journal
"Fourth Genre is the Paris Review of nonfiction journals."
Writing/Teaching Text
The Writer’s Way is the best book I’ve found yet for teaching first quarter Freshmen their first English writing sequence….” Dr. Sheila Coghill, Moorhead State University.

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