The "Playhouse Killer" captured, "Wild Bill" remembered, and Richard Bausch bids a fond farewell.
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It’s been a hell of a ride for going on seven years.”
So says novelist, short-story writer, and essayist Richard Bausch of his time teaching at the University of Memphis.
Bausch, who arrived in town in 2005 and who holds the Moss Chair of Excellence in creative writing at the U of M, will soon be heading to California to teach. But he’s leaving Memphis with fond memories of the students and of the city he’s called home for more than half a dozen years. It’s been home to Bausch, his wife, Lisa, and their daughter Lila, who was born here. And it’s been home to Bausch’s grown daughter Maggie, who is earning her MFA in creative writing at the university.
“I love this city and will always love it,” Bausch says. “I loved it the first time I came here, with the ‘godfather’ of us all, poet and novelist George Garrett, to read in the River City Writers Series, one of the oldest reading series in the country. And I loved it when I came back — twice: touring my novel In the Night Season and again touring my collected stories.”
Among Bausch’s proudest accomplishments is his work as head of the Moss Workshop in creative writing, which drew participants from throughout the community. As he said of those participants, several of whom went on to enter the U of M’s MFA program:
“I’ve gotten to work with some amazing students — and the present group is the best I’ve ever worked with anywhere. I wish I could take them all with me. But I will be returning next year for their thesis defenses. I will not leave one of them untended.
“My students are beginning to publish now. Four of them in my present workshop have sold stories and not from anything I did particularly, either, except to marvel at the quality of the stories and to tell them to send them out. They are all the real thing, and they will all have books, too.”
That includes Courtney Miller Santo, whose novel The Roots of the Olive Tree (William Morrow) is scheduled to appear in August. In the meantime, see Santo’s short story, “Wind Gap.” It’s the latest winner in Memphis magazine’s annual fiction contest, and it begins on page 66 of this month’s issue.