CASEY TRIMM – An English professor who fences? You don’t hear that every day!
Peter Grandbois is an Associate Professor of the English department here at Denison. He received his Bachelor and Master’s degrees from the University of Colorado Boulder, his Master of Fine Arts from Bennington College and his Doctorate degree from the University of Denver.
After teaching at Sacramento State University for four years, Grandbois accepted a position at Denison in 2010 where he is currently a professor of creative writing and contemporary literature.
Last week, his essay “Honor” was listed as a Notable Essay for 2017. Out of the thousands of essays that are published each year, only about 20 are selected as notable essays.
Published on October 3rd, The Best American Essays of 2017 is a collection of a variety of work selected by best-selling essayist Leslie Jamison. The book contains essays that are diverse in ideas and experiences, challenging toward mainstream beliefs and show a clear passion for a particular subject. Grandbois’s essay fits right in because of it’s originality and curiosity toward the Samurai code of conduct.
“Honor” is part of a series of essays in which Grandbois investigates the Bushido code of the Samurai. This code stresses the importance of Samurai warrior attitudes and behaviors, specifically justice, courage, mercy, courtesy, honesty, honor, loyalty and character.
“I wrote essays that explore the meaning of each of these subjects in terms of the sport of fencing and what it means to grow old,” said Grandbois.
Dr. Grandbois has already received this honor once before for his essay “Driving to Puerto Rico,” which first appeared in The Potomac Review in 2011.
In response to the praise that “Honor” received, Grandbois is, “… very pleased to have the essay recognized. Thousands and thousands of essays are published every year, so to receive any recognition that my essay stood out is quite a thrill.”
Dr. Grandbois is also a senior editor at Boulevard magazine and fiction co-editor at Phantom Drift.
His poems, stories and essays have appeared in more than ninety magazines and have been shortlisted for both the Pushcart Prize and Best American Essays.
Along with his more formal written work, Grandbois is also a part of the world of theatre. He has had his original plays performed in St. Louis, Columbus, Los Angeles and New York. His one-woman show “The Woman Who Was Me” has been nominated for five New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including “Outstanding Premiere of a New Play” and “Outstanding Solo Performance.”
The recognition of his work goes beyond that of the theatre. His recent book of poetry, “This House That” won the Brighthorse Books Poetry Prize. He is the author of eight books, including The Gravedigger, selected by Barnes and Noble for its “Discover Great New Writers” program, The Arsenic Lobster: A Hybrid Memoir, chosen as one of the top five memoirs of 2009 by the Sacramento News and Review and Nahoonkara, winner of the gold medal in literary fiction in Foreword magazine’s Book of the Year Awards for 2011.
Along with his success in writing, Grandbois also fences. He has been a member of the U.S. World Championship team and coaches the men’s and women’s teams at Denison.
John Fernow ‘20, a computer science major from Bremen, Ohio, is the men’s epee captain for the fencing club at Denison and has known Dr. Grandbois for over a year now.
“You can’t ask for a better fencing coach than Peter Grandbois. Beyond being a great coach and friend, I’ve also learned a lot from him outside of fencing. One thing I’ve come to realize is how even though at times I may be uncertain what exactly I want to do after college, I’ve really learned from him that there is more to life than the job you are working. Even though he does teach a class on it, fencing is not Grandbois’s main job. Even still, he makes it a big part of his life because it is something he enjoys,” said Fernow.
Dr. Grandbois not only demonstrates the power of determination and hard work, but is also a prime example of the insightful, extraordinary staff that Denison is lucky enough to have.