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Gary W. Fincke, Ph.D.

Department: English & Creative Writing

Professor of English

Director, Writers Institute

  • Education
  • PHD, Kent State University
  • MA, Miami University
  • BA, Thiel College
Gary Fincke

In 1993, I founded Susquehanna's nationally recognized creative writing program, and had the pleasure of directing it for 21 years.

In 2003, I won the Flannery O'Connor Prize for my short story collection Sorry I Worried You and have published 28 other books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, most recently the short story collection A Room of Rain and a collection of essays called Vanishings.  A few of my other books are the novel How Blasphemy Sounds to God (2014), The History of Permanence (2011), which won the Stephen F. Austin Poetry Prize, a memoir called The Canals of Mars (2010), and Amp'd: A Father's Backstage Pass, a nonfiction account of my son's life as a rock guitarist in the platinum-selling band Breaking Benjamin.

Besides writing all those books, I've taught workshops in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction at Susquehanna for over 30 years and coached the men's tennis team from 1981-2001, something I thoroughly enjoyed.

I find time to write a biweekly newspaper column, which is sometimes reprinted in newspapers throughout the country and just as often earns me emails from readers who aim to praise or criticize my points of view.

I live in Selinsgrove with my wife Elizabeth. Two of my children, Derek (creative director, Klunk and Millan Advertising) and Shannon (artist and teacher), graduated from Susquehanna; the third, Aaron, attended Duquesne University, and after touring for nine years with Breaking Benjamin (Hollywood Records), now plays with the band Gentleman East.

How Blasphemy Sounds to God Cover

Ph.D.  1974, Kent State University (Modern American Literature)

M.A.  1969, Miami University

B.A.  1967, Thiel College    



2016:  The Killer's Dog (stories), Elixir Press

2016:  After the Three-Moon Era (poems), Jacar Press

2015:  Bringing Back the Bones: New and Selected Poems, Stephen F. Austin

2015:  A Room of Rain (stories), West Virginia University Press

2015:  Vanishings (essays), Stephen F. Austin University Press

2014:  How Blasphemy Sounds to God (novel), Braddock Avenue Books

2013   The Proper Words for Sin (stories), West Virginia University Press

2011:  The History of Permanence (poems), Stephen F. Austin University Press

2011:  Reviving the Dead (poems), Time Being Books

2010:  The Canals of Mars (nonfiction), Michigan State University Press

2008:  The Fire Landscape (poetry), University of Arkansas Press

2008:  The Lengthening Radius for Hate (poetry chapbook), Cervena Barva Press

2005:  Standing around the Heart (poems), University of Arkansas Press

2004:  Sorry I Worried You (stories), University of Georgia Press

2004:  Amp'd (nonfiction), Michigan State University Press

2003:  Writing Letters for the Blind (poems), Ohio State University Press

2003:  The Stone Child (short stories), University of Missouri Press

2002:  Blood Ties (poems), Time Being Books

2001:  Gold, (chapbook, selected poems), Pudding House Press

2000:  The Almanac for Desire (poems), BkMk Press

1998:  The Technology of Paradise (poems), Avisson Press     

1996:  Emergency Calls (short stories), University of Missouri Press

1994:  Inventing Angels (poetry), Zoland Books

1993:  For Keepsies (short stories), Coffee House Press.

1992:  The Double Negatives of the Living (poetry), Zoland Books.

1991:  The Public Talk of Death (poetry chapbook), Two Herons Press

1991:  Plant Voices (poetry), Yardbird Books.

1990:  Handing the Self Back (poetry chapbook), GreenTower Press.

1988:  The Days of Uncertain Health (poetry), Lynx House Press.

1985:  The Coat in the Heart (poetry chapbook), Blue Buildings Press

1984:  Breath (poetry chapbook), State Street Press.    


Harper's, The North American Review, The Paris Review, Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The New England Review, Prairie Schooner, The Missouri Review, Verse, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, DoubleTake, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, The American Literary Review, American Scholar, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pequod, Cimarron Review, The Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Witness, Indiana Review, The Gettysburg Review, Boulevard, Southern Quarterly, The Ontario Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Press, Southwest Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry East, New Virginia Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Ohio Review, Western Humanities Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Cave Wall, Yankee, Cave Wall, Kansas Quarterly, Colorado Review, Margie, Roger, Poet & Critic, Denver Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, The Literary Review, Pleiades, The Pennsylvania Review, Ironwood, The Journal, River Styx, Chariton Review, Oxford Magazine, Barrow Street, Prose Poem, Tar River Review, Three Rivers Poetry Journal, Mid-American Review, Webster Review, Zone 3, Green Mountains Review, The Laurel Review, West Branch, New Delta Review, Willow Springs, Kestrel, Poet Lore, Antietam Review, Louisville Review, etc.    

Fiction:   Newsday, Flaunt, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, Minnesota Review, Black Warrior Review, The Seattle Review, Cimarron Review, The Idaho Review, Shenandoah, Crazyhorse, Ascent, Beloit Fiction Journal, Willow Springs, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Witness, South Carolina Review, The Journal, Hayden's Ferry Review, Southern California Review, South Dakota Review, Portland Review, Pequod, Florida Review, Pleiades, West Branch, Mid-American Review, Sonora Review, Southern Humanities Review, Texas Review, Flyway, New Mexico Humanities Review, Louisville Review, Tennessee Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Laurel Review, Other Voices, Santa Monica Review, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Ball State University Forum, Wisconsin Review, REAL, Southern Indiana Review, Pisgah Review, Frostproof Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Wind, Interstate, The Gamut, Colorado-North Review, Oyez Review, Great Stream Review, River City Review, Talking River Review, Kestrel, Paterson Literary Review, Amelia, Front Range Review, RiversEdge, Timber Creek Review, Sidewalks, Outerbridge, etc.    

Essays:   National Public Radio, Northwest Review, Five Points, Kenyon Review, Carolina Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review, Passages North, Black Warrior Review, Shenandoah, The Literary Review, The North Dakota Quarterly, Iron Horse Literary Review, International Quarterly, Tampa Review, Sonora Review, Pleiades, Arts and Letters, Ecotone, Chariton Review, The Writer, Weber Studies, Oyez Review, Lake Effect, Under the Sun, Blue Mesa Review, The Farmer's Market, Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, The Instructor, Clearing House, The Cresset, Central PA Magazine, Pennsylvania English, The Missouri English Bulletin, The Ohio English Bulletin, etc.    

Anthologies:   The Pushcart Essays: The Best of Twenty-Five Years; The Pushcart Prize, XXV; The Pushcart Prize, XX; Poets For Life, Crown Publishers; Zoland Books Poetry Anthology, 2009; The State Street Reader, State Street Press; Micro2: Short Short Stories; Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry; Tennis: An Anthology of the Game, Harcourt, Brace; Epiphanies (prose poems); Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania; The Best of 20 Years of Verse Magazine; 100 Poets against the War; The Best of Prose Poem; Movieworks; Roth Publications Best American Poetry, 1998; Best of the Tar River Review; Best of Southern Poetry Review; Best of The Painted Bride Quarterly, 1973-1993; Best of Prose Poem; March Hares: Best of Fine Madness; Fine China, Best of Earth's Daughters, 1973-1993; Best of Poets On Anthologies, 1987 and 1992; Best of West Branch, 1977-1999; Motion: Anthology of American Sports Poems (Iowa); Line Drives: America's Best Baseball Poems; BluR Broadside Series.    


2015: Notable Essay, The Physics of Desire," Best American Essays

2015:  Elixir Press Fiction Prize for The Killer's Dog

2015:  Jacar Press Poetry Prize for After the Three-Moon Era

2015: Outside Evaluator, Roanoke College

2014: Outside Evaluator, Goucher College

2013: Poetry Daily Feature: "The Illiterate in New Mexico," reprinted from Alaska Quarterly Review

2013: Outside Evaluator, Univ. of Maine--Farmington

2012: President's Advisory Board, Carnegie-Mellon University

2011: Poetry Daily Feature: "The Beheaded," reprinted from Reviving the Dead

2011: Notable Essay, "The History of Lie Detection," Best American Essays

2011: Stephen F. Austin University Press Poetry Prize for The History of Permanence

2011: Keynote Speaker, Lutheran Writers Conference, Roanoke College

2010: Notable Essay, "Potato Chips," Best American Essays

2010: Notable Story, "Smart Boy," Best Nonrequired Reading

2009: The Comfort of Taboos, Pushcart Prize Citation

2009: Book of the Year, Lutheran Book Club: Sorry I Worried You

2009: Notable Story, "A Room of Rain," Best Nonrequired Reading

2008: Distinguished Story-"Isn't She Something," Best American Stories

2008: The Writer's Almanac (with Garrison Keillor reading "The Sorrows"

2008: Poetry Daily Feature: "The Sorrows," reprinted from The Fire Landscape

2008: Verse Daily Feature: "The Possibilities for Wings," reprinted from The Lengthening Radius for Hate

2008: Verse Daily feature: "The Pause in the Plummet for Prayer," reprinted from The Fire Landscape

2007: Notable Essay-"The Handmade Court," Best American Essays

2007: Poetry Daily Feature: "The Prophecies of Mathematics" reprinted, originally in Beloit Poetry Journal

2007: O. Marvin Lewis 2007 Essay Prize-"Cemeteries," WEBER STUDIES

2007: Recommended Story-"There's Worse"--O Henry Prize Stories,

2007 2006: Pushcart Prize fiction finalist: "The Sorrows" and "The Proper Words for Sin"

2006: CASE Professor of the year, Susquehanna nominee

2005: Runner-Up, Independent Book Sellers Best Book of 2004 about Music, for Amp'd

2005: CASE Professor of the Year, Susquehanna nominee

2005: Notable Essay-"The Woman in White," Best American Essays

2005: Selected as one of "The 100 Most Influential American Poets" by the Atheneum Museum of Chicago for Poets for Peace Display

2004: Notable Essay-"After Arson," Best American Essays

2004:  Poetry Daily Feature: "This" reprinted, originally in Prairie Schooner

2003: The Stone Child nominated for PEN/Faulkner Award

2003: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction for book manuscript Sorry I Worried You

2003: Poetry Daily Feature: "The Magpie Evening" reprinted from Writing Letters for the Blind

2003: Ohio State University Press/The Journal  poetry prize for book manuscript Writing Letters for the Blind

2003: George Garrett Fiction Prize, Willow Springs, for "The Blazer Sestina"

2002: Pushcart Prize Distinguished Essay, "The Ass-End of Everything"

2002: Best of Twenty-Five Years of Pushcart Prize Essays, for "The Canals of Mars"

2001: Notable Essay-"God of Our Fathers," Best American Essays

2001: Distinguished Teaching Award, Susquehanna University

2000: Poetry Daily Feature: "The Dark Angels reprinted from The Almanac for Desire

2000: Pushcart Prize, for "The Canals of Mars," (essay) originally in Shenandoah

2000: Notable Essay-"The Canals of Mars," Best American Essays

1999: Notable Essay-"Subsidence, Mine Fire, the Tomb of Eve," Best American Essays

1998: Web Del Sol on-line chapbook, The Literary Review, Spring

1998: Featured writer chapbook insert, One Trick Pony, Spring

1998: Notable Essay-"Labored Breathing," Best American Essays

1997: Rose Lefcowitz Prize, Poet Lore 1997: Notable essays--"A Punishment Seminar" and "Night Vision," Best American Essays

1996: Pushcart Prize Distinguished Essay, "The Pagoda Sightlines" 1996: Notable essay--"The Pagoda Sightlines," Best American Essays

1995: Pushcart Prize, for "The Era of the Vari-Vue," (poem) originally in Oxford Magazine.

1993: For Keepsies nominated for National Book Award, PEN: Faulkner Award, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and National Book Critics Circle Award.  Chosen Book-of-the-Month by Vietnam Veterans' Magazine, notable fiction book of the year by The Dictionary of Literary Biography.

1992: Pushcart Prize Distinguished Poem

1991: Bess Hokin Prize, Poetry Magazine

1990: Beloit Fiction Journal Short Story Prize

1989: Allan Ginsberg Prize for Poetry, Paterson Poetry Review

1989: John Horn Prize for Distinguished Scholarship and Service, Susquehanna University

1988: Chapbook insert award, Zone 3 Magazine 1987: Nelson Algren Award Finalist

1985: Nominated for General Electric Foundation Younger Writers Award

1984: PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award 1984:The Gamut Fiction Prize

1984: Footwork Poetry Prize 1983: Looking Glass Poetry Prize

1980: Sasso-Parker Poetry Prize  

READINGS:   International Poetry Forum (Pittsburgh), Carnegie-Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania, Marshall University, Ohio State University, Bucknell University, University of Pittsburgh, Beloit College, Penn State University, Grove City College, Alvernia College, University of Scranton, West Virginia University, Elizabethtown College, St. Francis College, Salisbury State University, Bloomsburg University, Southern Indiana University, Thiel College, Cedar Crest College, Elmira College, Lock Haven University, Messiah College, LaSalle University, Lebanon Valley College, Mansfield University, Lycoming College, Waynesburg College, Three Rivers Arts Festival (Pittsburgh), Wildwood Poetry Festival, Arcadia University, Carlow College, West Chester State University, Calvin College, Widener University, Roanoke College, Brevard College, Juniata College, Penn State-Altoona, Genesee County Community College, Serendipity Arts Center (Buffalo), Erie County Community College, Williamsport Area Community College, Disneyworld Resort, Washington Hilton, Pennsylvania College English Association, Germantown Academy, Altoona Public Library, Harrisburg Area Community College, Susquehanna University, Shippensburg University, Ligonier Writers Workshops, Mercersburg Academy, Stillwater Poetry Festival, Bucks County Poetry Festival, Border's Book Store (Pittsburgh), Border's Book Store (Boston), Border's Book Store (Monroeville), Border's Book Store (Allentown), Border's Book Store (Harrisburg), Border's Book Store (Lancaster), Barnes & Noble Book Store (Wilkes-Barre), Barnes & Noble Book Store (Lancaster), Barnes & Noble Book Store (Harrisburg), etc.  


The Sunbury Daily Item, (bi-weekly), June 1996-present (distributed by Scripps-Howard throughout the United States)              

Reprints in Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Francisco Examiner, Atlanta Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Durham Herald-Sun, Albuquerque Daily, Anchorage Daily News, Colorado Springs Gazette, Wilmington News Journal, Arizona Daily Star, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Las Vegas Sun, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Charleston Gazette-Mail, Harrisburg Patriot, Allentown Call, etc.

Gary Fincke is the Charles Degenstein Professor of Creative Writing at Susquehanna University.  Winner of the 2003 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, the 2003 Ohio State University/The Journal Poetry Prize, the 2010 Stephen F. Austin Poetry prize, the 2015 Jacar Press Poetry Prize, and the 2015 Elixir Press Fiction Prize for recent collections of stories and poems, he has published thirty books of poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction, most recently A Room of Rain (stories, West Virginia, 2015), Vanishings (essays, Stephen F. Austin, 2015),The Proper Words for Sin (stories, West Virginia, 2013), The History of Permanence (poems, Stephen F. Austin, 2011), a memoir, The Canals of Mars, from Michigan State in 2010, Sorry I Worried You (stories, Georgia, 2004), and Amp'd: A Father's Backstage Pass, a nonfiction account of his son's life as a rock guitarist in the band Breaking Benjamin (Michigan State, 2004). His work has appeared in such periodicals as Harper's, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, and Ploughshares.. Twice awarded Pushcart Prizes, recognized by Best American Stories and the O. Henry Prize series, and cited fourteen times in the past sixteen years for a "Notable Essay" in Best American Essays, his essay "The Canals of Mars" was reprinted in The Pushcart Essays, an anthology of the best nonfiction from the first twenty-five years of the Pushcart Prize volumes. 

Courses taught:

  • ENGL-540 Internship
  • WRIT-250 Intro to Creative Nonfiction
  • WRIT-250 Introduction to Fiction
  • WRIT-250 Introduction to Nonfiction
  • WRIT-250 Introduction to Poetry
  • WRIT-350 Int NF: Literary Journalism
  • WRIT-350 Int Nonfiction: Memoir
  • WRIT-350 Int Nonfiction: Personal Essay
  • WRIT-350 Inter NF: Lit Journalism
  • WRIT-350 Inter Nonfic:Personal Essay
  • WRIT-450 Adv. Fiction: Short Story
  • WRIT-450 Advanced Fiction
  • WRIT-450 Advanced Fiction: Short Story
  • WRIT-500 Independent Study
  • WRIT-520 Practicum
  • WRIT-540 Internship
  • WRIT-590 Independent Writing Project