Crist-Evans, Craig 1954-
CRIST-EVANS, Craig 1954-
Born March 4, 1954, in Springfield, OH; son of James R. and Barbara A. Evans; married Sylvaine Montaudouin (divorced); children: Yann Crist-Evans, Kathryn Daniel. Ethnicity: "Caucasian Euro Mutt." Education: Florida Atlantic University, B.A., 1973-75; University of Colorado, Boulder, graduate studies, 1979-81; Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, graduate studies, 1989-90; Norwich University, Montpelier, M.F.A. (writing), 1992; Norwich University, Montpelier, postgraduate study, 1997. Politics: "Liberal Progressive Moderate."
Writer and poet. Poet in the Schools for Colorado, 1992-97; teacher of independent writing program in Colorado schools; Vermont College, cofounder and director of M.F.A. program in writing for children, 1990-92, director of marketing and admissions, 1998-2000; Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, PA, currently director of writing center and English teacher.
Florida Atlantic University faculty scholar, 1973-75; Poetry Mile High Arts Festival contest winner, 1987; Pushcart Prize nomination for poetry, 1995 (two), 1996, 2002; New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age List honor, 2000, and Lamplighter Award nomination, and International Reading Association/Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, both 2001, all for Moon over Tennessee: A Boy's Civil War Journal; New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age List designation, 2004, for Amaryllis.
Moon over Tennessee: A Boy's Civil War Journal, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.
Amaryllis, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
Shadow of My Father's Hand, Breakfast Serials, 2004.
North of Everything, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
No Guarantee, New Rivers Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.
Contributor to Paris Review, Nebraska Review, Cimmarron Review, and Prague Review. Contributing editor, Bloomsbury Review, 1990—.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
The novels Feather in the Wind, Bull Ring, and Valley of the Cranes; Birds of a Feather, a collection of poems for young readers; If You Ever Get Lost in the Woods, a picture-book text; Land This Hard, a second poetry collection; Manthology: Poems of the Male Experience, an anthology coedited with Roger Weingarten.
Craig Crist-Evans is a writer and poet who strongly believes in the power of writing and storytelling. As an educator who has been a guest speaker in many schools, Crist-Evans believes that helping children find the power of their own voices through poetry can influence the world at large. His first book for young-adult readers, Moon over Tennessee: A Boy's Civil War Journal, was published in 1999, and has been followed by 2003's Amaryllis, as well as several poetry collections. Crist-Evans continues to work on multiple projects concurrently, among them an anthology of poems titled Manthology: Poems of the Male Experience.
Moon over Tennessee follows a young boy who is coming of age during the U.S. Civil War. Through extended narrative free verse in the form of journal entries readers follow the boy and his father as they leave their family farm and make the long journey to join the doomed Confederate Army preparing for battle at Gettysburg. As they pass by destroyed towns, littered with burned buildings and injured or dead soldiers, the harsh reality of the war becomes apparent to the boy. He braves the imposing dread of war, the hunger, and even the death of his own father with the courage of a man, and believes he will one day go home again. Picturesque wood engravings illustrate the text, and depict the farms, soldiers, and battles discussed. "This poem, written in the form of a boy's journal, evokes the emotional power inherent in his painful experience," stated Lynne T. Burke in Reading Today. "With lyricism and a chilling resoluteness the boy records the real price the country paid for slavery." Randy Meyer, reviewing Moon over Tennessee for Booklist, also complimented Craig-Evans' debut, writing that it is an "evocative book, written with language so vibrant it begs to be read aloud."
The plot again focuses around war in Crist-Evans' second novel, Amaryllis, which describes the emotional conflict of two brothers as they struggle to assert themselves against their parents. Frank, an eighteen-year-old Florida transplant from Ohio, has decided to fight in the Vietnam war, but his motivation is a desire to flee from home and escape his personal war with his alcoholic father. Once in Vietnam, Frank realizes that he has no commitment to the cause he is risking his life for; now battling a heroin addiction, he becomes increasingly guilt-ridden over concerns for his younger brother, Jimmy. Meanwhile, Frank's father realizes that he is responsible for his son's departure; he also feels guilt at ruining his son's life. Jimmy serves as the bridge between the two men: when he suddenly stops receiving letters from Frank, he grows concerned but cannot express his worry to his troubled father. Robert Gray, writing in School Library Journal, noted that "Both teens are believable and likable characters with whom many young adults will identify," and went on to call Amaryllis "crisply written and a worthwhile addition to fiction collections." While noting that teen readers "may relate most readily to the father/son conflicts," a Publishers Weekly contributor added that Crist-Evans' powerful "passages about Vietnam may be what they remember longest."
Crist-Evans once commented: "I live in rural south central Pennsylvania, where I enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and camping. Still, my spiritual roots are in the West, and I venture that direction every summer to spend time in the Rockies and with my son and close friends. Being the clever guy I am, I go back to Florida to visit family during the winter months. While I am professionally gregarious, I am also fiercely private and spend much of my time reading and working on writing projects. Of course, there is a professional side to me that loves to get up in front of any group—children or adults—to talk about writing and books. I enjoy doing school visits and conference presentations and keynote speeches, while exploring the different landscapes I encounter in the process. I'm a student of culture and human dynamics, particularly in the way they impact children as they grow toward adulthood.
"An itinerant gypsy, I have lived in eight states and France, more towns and streets than I can count, and am not through traveling yet. I would like to evolve eventually to a life that is centered around my writing, allowing time for more travel, school visits and group talks, and would like to devote part of each year to working in other parts of the world, helping communities and children and their families reach upward and out of poverty, hunger, and despair. I write about war and the problematical dynamics of families because I think we need to address these difficult aspects of our human condition. A dedicated proponent of peace, I abhor any conflict that results in violence and the decimation of a people. I am a firm believer in the power of word and story, and hope that our world might learn that there is more to be gained through open, honest communication than mistrust and hatred."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 1999, Randy Meyer, review of Moon over Tennessee: A Boy's Civil War Journal, p. 1695; November 1, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Amaryllis, p. 490.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2003, review of Amaryllis, p. 1270.
Kliatt, July, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Amaryllis, p. 8; November, 2003, Sue Budin, review of Moon over Tennessee, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1999, review of Moon over Tennessee, p. 80; December 15, 2003, review of Amaryllis, p. 75.
Reading Today, April, 2001, Lynne T. Burke, review of Moon over Tennessee, p. 32.
School Library Journal, August, 1999, Herman Sutter, review of Moon over Tennessee, p. 155; November, 2003, Robert Gray, review of Amaryllis, p. 138.