Sunday, September 18, 2016

Michael Copperman

Michael Copperman has taught writing to low-income, first-generation students of diverse background at the University of Oregon for the last decade. His prose has appeared in The Oxford American, The Sun, Creative Nonfiction, Salon, Gulf Coast, Guernica, Waxwing, and Copper Nickel, among other magazines, and has won awards and garnered fellowships from the Munster Literature Center, Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, Oregon Literary Arts, and the Oregon Arts Commission.

Copperman's new memoir is Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I am reading, as I tend to, a number of books at once.

Story by story, saving each to savor, is Lucia Berlin’s collection, A Manual for Cleaning Women. Like so many brilliant writers who never quite break into the limelight, Ms. Berlin was unknown to me until my friend Heather Ryan gave me this book. The prose so strong and assured, the stories and their subjects so unpretentious and relatable, the angle of vision so clear—I cannot understand how I didn’t hear of Ms. Berlin while she was alive, but it is a gift to encounter her now.

I am reading Erin Stalcup’s And Yet It Moves, a new collection from Indiana University Press, also story by story as a sort of counterpoint to Ms. Berlin’s fictions. While Berlin is a realist of the first order, Stalcup’s fictions are formally inventive and fabulist in dimensions, if nonetheless character driven. Her debut collection makes me hungry for more from an immensely talented writer.

I am also reading Ralph Eubanks’ The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South, which is a brilliant literary memoir that interrogates the personal and familial and historical in telling the story of his own mixed-race background, and the ways race defined the course of his grandparent’s lives, even as they defied convention and sought identities which were less delimited by convention-- and how their experiences and choices bear the burden of living history, as they are passed on.
Visit Michael Copperman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Teacher.

--Marshal Zeringue