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 photo: Knox Garvin

 

Philip Raisor was born and grew up in Muncie, Indiana, a mythical town before he got there. Two sociologists, Robert and Helen Lynd, published Middletown and Middletown in Transition, which were studies of Muncie, a typical American community in the 1920s and 1930s. Both books made the best-seller list. Subsequently, a six-part NPR documentary, numerous histories, a television program and more have been made about this small Midwestern city, following its rise and decline in the twentieth century.

 

Philip left Muncie after he graduated from high school, attended Kansas University on an academic/athletic scholarship, received a B.A. and M.A. from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. from Kent State University. During his academic career he taught at LSU, Valparaiso University, Indiana University--Gary Campus, Kent State, and Old Dominion University. His first adult publication was a short story he wrote as a graduate student, which appeared in The Best College Writing, 1961, a national competition. He continued to publish his creative work in The Southern Review, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, Kansas Quarterly, New Virginia Review, The Midwest Quarterly, and numerous other periodicals and anthologies. His book, Outside Shooter: A Memoir, about basketball, race, and love was published in 2003 by the University of Missouri Press (in its Sports and American Culture series) and Swimming in the Shallow End, a poetry collection was published in 2013 by Turning Point Books.  

 

In 1998, the University of Delaware Press published his collection of essays, Tuned and Under Tension: The Recent Poetry of W. D. Snodgrass, about the Pulitzer prize winning poet.  In addition to his creative and critical work, Raisor  has published scholarly articles on Joyce, Browning, Shelley, Arnold, Faulkner, and numerous reviews, essays, and interviews on contemporary writers and literary culture in The Writer's Chronicle, Contemporary Literature, The Southern Review, Studies in English Literature, Tennessee Studies in Literature, Victorian Poetry, Sewanee Review, Prairie Schooner, Tar River Poetry and elsewhere. His work has been anthologized in the Thomson Gale series in Poetry Criticism.

 

Muncie and sports had a strong impact on his emotional upbringing and nineteenth and twentieth century literature had a major influence on his critical thinking. As a teenager, he had no problem reading poetry and fiction on the bus going to state championship games in Indiana or the national championship game in Kansas City. After transferring to LSU, he was subsequently named an SEC all-conference playmaker. With hoops behind him, Raisor became active in the early civil rights movement and, it was rumored, was under scrutiny by the state commissions on un-American activities. In Virginia, he served as president of the New Virginia Review, Inc., a state-wide literary and visual arts organization, and was a poetry judge for the Virginia Commission of the Arts. He was instrumental in bringing the home office of the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) to Old Dominion University's campus, where it remained for seventeen years. At ODU, he also initiated the creative writing undergraduate and graduate programs, the visiting writers series, and the annual literary festival. He is now a professor emeritus of English at ODU, and lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with his wife Juanita.