I’ve just re-read a short story I had gotten published 52 years ago in the Fall, 1967 issue of Wisconsin Review, edited by Sharon Ann Woolweber and several other students at Wisconsin State University: Oshkosh. At that time I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Later I would transfer to Oshkosh.
My story is titled “Ten Fingers.” When the young boy in the story was a baby, the house cat bit one of his fingers—which became infected and had to be amputated.
While in Oshkosh, I was taking literature and art courses. During the break between the two hours of an oil-painting class, the professor came up to me and said he had read my story. Which was exciting. He then suggested that I change my major to English so I could study literature and take creative writing classes. Well, that is what I did, and in the Spring of 1970, when I was graduating, my creative writing teacher suggested I enter the Book-of-the Month Club poetry completion. That is how I won my first national award, and the fellowship provided enough money to take a year off after graduation, and spend it writing poetry full-time.
My wife Lois and I moved to Pullman, Washington. We’d gotten married in Wisconsin in 1966, and had spent our late honeymoon in Eugene, Oregon, where we fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. So when it came time to choose a graduate program, I applied to Washington State University in Pullman, where I was accepted for a creative writing Masters degree. However, we quickly discovered that Eastern Washington was not the Northwest we loved. So I spent only my first year of grad school there, then accepted a great offer from Cornell University to get my MFA degree, while teaching poetry writing classes myself. Ithaca, New York was a gorgeous place to live. The rest is well-documented history.