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Professor Peter Chilson

Peter Chilson


Peter Chilson (MFA Pennsylvania State University, 1994) teaches writing and literature. He is the author of the travelogue Riding the Demon: On the Road in West Africa (University of Georgia Press, 1999), which won the Associated Writing Programs Award in nonfiction, and the short fiction collection Disturbance-Loving Species: A Novella and Stories (Mariner Books, 2007), winner of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Fiction Prize and the Maria Thomas Fiction Prize. Chilson went to West Africa in 1985 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, near the border with Nigeria. A longtime visitor to Mali as a travel writer and journalist, he went back in 2012 for the Foreign Policy-Pulitzer Center Borderlands project. He was one of first western journalists to see firsthand the effects of civil war and the new breakaway jihadist state. Chilson’s e-book, We Never Knew Exactly Where: Dispatches From the Lost Country of Mali (Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting/Foreign Policy), came out in January 2013.

Creative Interests:

Chilson’s published work has primarily focused on literary journalism, the essay, and in short fiction with an emphasis on Africa and the American West. He is also interested in African literature and borderlands studies.

Teaching Interests:

Chilson teaches writing and literature, including professional writing and editing, environmental writing and literature, literature of literary journalism and the American West. His graduate teaching experience includes the workshop in topics of creative nonfiction, African literature, borderlands studies, and the pedagogy of teaching creative writing.

Professional Recognition:

Finalist for the Kurt Schork Memorial Award in International Journalism 2013; Tina Brown’s Must Reads, NPR, July 2012; Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting Grant 2012;Best American Sports Writing Notable Essay citation 2011; Maria Thomas Fiction Prize (2008), Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellow in Fiction Writing (2007), Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize in Short Fiction (2006), Washington State University Buchanan Scholar (2004), Five Pushcart Prize Nominations, Washington State University College of Liberal Arts Fellow (2003), Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellow (2004), Gulf Coast Fiction Prize (2003), Work Chosen for Best American Travel Writing (2003, 2008), Best American Travel Writing Notable Essay citation (2001), Fishtrap Writer in Residence (2000), AWP Book Prize in Nonfiction (1997), Fulbright Scholar in Niger, West Africa (1991-92), Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Scholar in Nonfiction Writing (1991).


Books in Progress:

The End of Empire: Journey Through an African Country’s Collapse and Struggle to Survive


Books Published:

We Never Knew Exactly Where: Dispatches from the Lost Country of Mali. E-book, Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting/Foreign Policy Magazine. Washington, DC: January 2013

Disturbance-Loving Species: A Novella and Stories. Mariner Books. New York: March 2007

Riding the Demon: On the Road in West Africa. University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia: March 1999

Short Fiction, Essays, Journalism in:
The American Scholar, Audubon, Ascent, Best American Travel Writing, Clackamas Review, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, Foreign Policy, High Country News, The London Daily Telegraph, West Africa, The North American Review, North Dakota Quarterly,, Gulf Coast, The Long Story, Rain City Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Exquisite Corpse, Fugue, Grand Tour.


Essays in Anthologies:

Near Death in the Desert: True Stories of Disaster and Survival (Vintage 2009)

Best American Travel Writing (Houghton Mifflin 2003, 2008)

Writing the Journey: Essays, Stories, and Poems on Travel (Pearson Longman 2005)

Forged in Fire: Essays by Idaho Writers (University of Oklahoma Press 2005)

Speed: Stories of Survival from Behind the Wheel (Thunder’s Mouth Press 2002)

Creative Nonfiction: How to Live It and Write It (Chicago Review Press 1996)


For more information:

See Peter Chilson’s