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Meet the Judges — John Lane

photo of judge John Lane

Place and wilderness have always been critical themes in my poetry, personal essays, commentary, and fiction. A long-time South Carolinian, I've also lived on a wilderness island off the coast of Georgia, studied crocodiles in Central America, surveyed monkeys in the remote rain forests of Suriname, and traveled extensively in the wild places of the United States. I now live with my family on a piedmont creek in one of the first sustainably designed and constructed house in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

A kayaker and place-based educator, my outdoor adventure prose has appeared in Outside, American White Water, Canoe, South Carolina Wildlife, and many other periodicals. My long essays, "River Wild," on paddling 59 miles of the Youghiogheny River, and "Confluence: Pacolet River," appeared in the anthologies Heart of a Nation and Adventure America, both from National Geographic Books. An essay about Cumberland Island appeared in the widely distributed In Short: Short Creative Nonfiction (WW Norton & Co. 1996). My natural history memoir, A Stand of Cypress, was the runner-up in the AWP creative non-fiction contest in '95.

In January of 1995 I participated in "Cross Currents: Six Writers on Environmental Ethics," a symposium at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. The other five featured writers were Rick Bass, Janet Lembke, James Kilgo, David Romtvedt, and Linda Hasselstrom.

My first collection of place-based personal essays, Weed Time, appeared from Briarpatch Press in 1993. In 1999 the University of Georgia Press published The Woods Stretched for Miles: Contemporary Southern Nature Writing, an anthology of Southern nature writing I co-edited with Wofford colleague Gerald Thurmond. My second collection of place-based essays, Waist Deep in Black Water appeared in 2002, and a book-length personal narrative, Chattooga, followed in 2004, both from The University of Georgia Press as well. My new book, Circling Home, appeared from UGA Press in Fall 2007 and it's now in a second printing. A paperback is due from UGA in spring '09.

I have been awarded a NEA Poetry Apprenticeship Grant (1979), a Hoyns Fellowship in Poetry from the University of Virginia (1980), a South Carolina Arts Commission Individual Arts Fellowship (1984), and, in 2001, a prose piece about a Girl Scout camp threatened by development was awarded The Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment by the Southern Environmental Law Center. My literary papers have just recently been acquired for the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World at Texas Tech University.

Also a poet and playwright, I teach environmental literature and creative writing at Wofford College. I'm the founder, with my wife Betsy Teter, journalist Gary Henderson, and photographer Mark Olencki, of the Hub City Writers Project in Spartanburg, SC.