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Professor Charles Baxter Retires

The creative writing mentor and fiction writer taught at the U for 18 years
May 4, 2020

Congratulations and best wishes to Charles Baxter, Edelstein-Keller Professor in Creative Writing, who retires this spring after 18 years of service to the Department of English and the University of Minnesota.

Beyond being a beloved teacher and mentor to scores of students, Baxter has published seven story collections, most recently There’s Something I Want You to Do (Pantheon, 2015), which won the Minnesota Book Award for fiction. He is the author of five novels, including National Book Award finalist The Feast of Love (2000)—made into a movie in 2007. He will publish his sixth novel, The Sun Collective, next fall with Pantheon/Random House.

Baxter is well-known for his essays on the writing craft: the classic Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction, as well as The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot, which won the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for General Nonfiction. Baxter was the series editor for The Art of ... series of books with Graywolf Press, and editor of Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life and other volumes. He has also published three volumes of poetry.

Among Baxter's many awards are the Award of Merit in the Short Story and the Award in Literature, both from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Rea Award in the Short Story, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

"I learned a lot from Charlie Baxter’s workshops," says MFA alum Amanda Coplin, who won the Whiting Writer's Award and National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" recognition after publication of her novel The Orchardist. "He has a particular way of evaluating fiction, at looking at what is on the page and how that matches up against the author’s intentions. He taught me so much about writing and life."

While a special Benefit for Hunger event celebrating Baxter has been postponed, consider making a donation in honor of Baxter to Second Harvest Heartland or another food shelf.