Ron Tanner, a site for readers and writers
The Life of Ron . . . so far

ron tanner, four years oldAlthough born in California, Ron grew up mostly in North Carolina, where family from both sides were born and raised. Most of his relatives hail from Caldwell County, in the Carolina hills, and many of them still gather for a reunion every October in North Wilkesboro. Ron's father was the wild-card, an electrical engineer recruited by Western Electric to do missile research for Bell Labs in the 1950s-70s. This compelled his family to travel fairly widely, at one point re-locating to an island--Kwajalein-- in the mid-Pacific for two years. They returned to North Carolina when Ron was a teenager. He earned his B.A. in English, with Honors in Creative Writing, from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

ron tanner on the roadHe knew he wanted to write but wasn't sure how to go about it, so he traveled around the country, taking odd jobs that included stints as a door-to-door salesman, a yardman, and a customs clearance clerk, among other things. Frustrated with the daily grind, he became a professional club musician in the California honky-tonk and casino circuits, playing drums and singing six nights a week. He did this for six years, trying to write in his free time. As soon as he published his first story (in the Indiana Review), he applied to graduate schools--never having heard of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where everyone told him to go.

Once at Iowa, he realized his love of teaching and decided to pursue a Ph.D. so that he could teach at the college level. After earning a Ph.D. in American Lit. and Creative Writng from the Unviersity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he taught for two years as an instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, VA. Then he took a tenure-track job in the Writing Department at Loyola University, in Baltimore, Maryland. He went on to chair the Writing Department for nine years. In 2006, he was elected to the board of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and served as that organization's president from 2008-2010.

ron tanner in micronesiaRon returned to the Pacific Islands in 2008 to establish the Marshall Islands Story Project, supported by a grant from the National Park Service. The Story Project aims to preserve the oral story culture of Marshallese elders. It teaches Marshallese college students how to gather and translate these stories into English and build a website to broadcast them to the world.


Ron is still a musician, playing drums in Jazz Caravan, a six-piece straight-ahead jazz band he founded in 1996. In 1999, he met Jill Eicher and bought a nearly-destroyed fraternity house in Baltimore's historic Charles Village. Together, they renovated the trashed Victorian and, five years later, got married in the house. In 2008, their remarkable rehab work was featured in This Old House magazine in a story titled "From Animal House to Our House." The work is ongoing and can be seen at their website, Houselove.org.

ron tanner and jill eicher

Ron Tanner's Writing

Ron Tanner has published stories and essays in such magazines as The Iowa Review, the Massachusetts Review, the Literary Review, Story Quarterly, West Branch and dozens of others. His work has been anthologized in Best of the Web, the Pushcart Prizes, and Twenty Under Thirty: Early Work of America's Influential Writers, among others. His work in both the essay and the short story has been acknowledged as "notable" by Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. Awards for his short fiction include a James Michener Fellowship from the Copernicus Society, first prize in the New Letters national fiction competition, gold medal in the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society national competition for short fiction, Best of the Web Award, Best of the West prize, and many others. His first collection of short stories, A Bed of Nails, won the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize and the Towson Prize for Literature.

The judge of that competition--Janet Burroway--wrote: Ron Tanner is fabulously imaginative, experimental, witty, often breath-taking. The series of 'Revolutionary Militia' stories that thread the collection, and that are not science fiction so much as eco-fiction, have an eerie convincingness. Both male and female voices are handled beautifully . . .more

Ron won the 2009 Gertrude Press chapbook competition for "Wheels," an excerpt from Drummer Girl, one of two novels he is working on. He is also working on a memior about his life and work in Micronesia, called In Search of the Island Story Tellers. In 2011, IG Publishing released Ron's illustrated novel, Kiss Me, Stranger, which Michael Martone called "stunning." His memoir From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story is forthcoming from Academy Chicago Publishing.



Academic Bio.:

Ron Tanner earned his B.A. in English with Honors in Writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and his Ph.D. in American Literature and Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He joined the faculty of Loyola University-Maryland in 1990 and served as the 3-term chair of Loyola University's Writing Department, leading the department through its growth first as a Writing and Media department and then a Communication Department, where he helped developed one of the most extensive undergraduate writing curriculums in nation. His administrative experience included program reviews,, strategic planning, and curricular assessment.

As a two-term president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, which serves over 30,000 writers and 500 writing programs worldwide, he was instrumental in forging a new strategic plan to address twenty-first century concerns.

In 2008, Ron won a grant from the National Park Service to establish the Marshall Island Story Project to preserve the oral story culture of the Marshall Islands. Ron taught Marshallese college students how to build websites and then interview Marshallese elders to capture and translate their stories for publication on the Mistories website.

Ron has been an avid advocate of educational innovation, most recently promoting technology in writing classes. At Loyola University, he has been a leader in the development of new technology-rich coures, such as "Writing for the Web." When not teaching and writing, he runs Wordrocket.org, a small digital design and communication company that takes on multi-media projects of interest.


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