Grimshaw, James A., Jr. 1940–
Grimshaw, James A., Jr. 1940–
(James Albert Grimshaw, Jr.)
Born December 10, 1940, in Kingsville, TX; son of James A. and Maureen Grimshaw; married Darlene Hargett, June 10, 1961; children: Courtney Anne, James Albert IV. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Texas Tech University, B.A., 1962, M.A., 1968; Louisiana State University, Ph.D., 1972.
U.S. Air Force, career officer, 1963-83, associated with personnel services in Waco, TX, Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base, South Vietnam, and Sacramento, CA, between 1963 and 1968, instructor at U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, 1968-69, assistant professor, 1972-74, associate professor, 1974-79, professor of English, 1980-83, retiring as lieutenant colonel; Texas A&M University—Commerce, Commerce, professor of literature and languages, 1983-2005, regents professor, 1995—, professor emeritus, 2007—, department head, 1983-1990. University of Colorado, visiting lecturer, 1972-73; Georgia College, Flannery O'Connor Visiting Professor of English, 1977; Yale University, visiting fellow in bibliography at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 1979-80; conference participant; gives readings from his works. Western Kentucky University, chair of advisory group for Center for Robert Penn Warren Studies, 1990-98.
Torch Club International, Society for the Study of Southern Literature, Robert Penn Warren Circle (president, 1991-93), Kiwanis Club International.
Military: Bronze Star. Other: Editor's Choice Award, Poet, 1992, for the poem "When the Cat Calls Your Name"; Editor's Choice Award, National Library of Poetry, 1995, for "Advice from a Father"; named honorary Kentucky Colonel, Western Kentucky University, 2005; grants from National Endowment for the Humanities and Texas Commission for the Humanities.
(Editor) Cleanth Brooks at the United States Air Force Academy, Department of English, U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO), 1980.
The Flannery O'Connor Companion, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1981.
Robert Penn Warren: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1922-1979, University Press of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1982.
(Editor) Robert Penn Warren's "Brother to Dragons": A Discussion, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1983.
(Editor) "Time's Glory": Original Essays on Robert Penn Warren, University of Central Arkansas Press (Conway, AR), 1986.
(Editor) The Paul Wells Barrus Lectures, 1983-1989, East Texas State University Press (Commerce, TX), 1990.
(Editor) Robert Penn Warren/Cleanth Brooks: Friends of Their Youth, King Library Press (Lexington, KY), 1993.
(Editor) Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren: A Literary Correspondence, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1998.
(Editor, with James Perkins) Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men": Three Stage Versions, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2000.
Understanding Robert Penn Warren, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 2001.
(Editor, with William Bedford Clark) RWP: An Annual of Robert Penn Warren Studies, Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green, KY), 2001-05.
(Editor) Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 320: Robert Penn Warren: A Documentary Volume, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2006.
Contributor to books, including Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature, 1974-82; Literature in the Education of the Military Professional, edited by Donald Ahern and Robert Shenk, Department of English, U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO), 1983; The Concise First Printings of American Authors, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and C.E. Frazer Clark, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983; Beyond the Stars, edited by Cynthia A. Stevens, National Library of Poetry (Owings Mills, MD), 1995; New Texas '98, edited by Donna Walker-Nixon and James Ward Lee, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Belton, TX), 1998; Because I Fly: A Collection of Aviation Poetry, edited by Helmut H. Reta, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 2002; and The Cass Mastern Material: The Core of Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men," edited by James A. Perkins, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2005. Contributor of articles, poetry, and reviews to magazines, including Southern Review, Daedalus, Southern Literary Journal, Kentucky Review, Shakespeare Quarterly, Poet, Touchstone, Southwestern American Literature, South Carolina Review, and Explicator. Founder and editor of Icarus: Magazine of Creativity, 1969-82. Member of editorial advisory board, Ethics Today Journal, 1993—, Distillery, 1993—.
James A. Grimshaw, Jr., once told CA: "I once told students that I write because I have a fire in my belly to do so. Writing is still a way of thinking for me, and it helps to clarify my perceptions. It also enhances my teaching. Trying to stay abreast of the changes in audience expectations, in focus, and in trends remains a challenge. As a teacher of writing for many years, I cannot imagine not being actively involved in the writing process.
"Over the years many influences have affected my writing: life experiences such as two bouts with cancer altered my priorities and influenced the way I read literature, interact with other people, and write. Academic writing I consider a service to my colleagues and students; it is a way of sharing ideas. Although my first interest has remained the works of Robert Penn Warren, who has had a profound influence on my writing, I have made a concerted effort to examine more closely the works of other authors such as John Burt, William Faulkner, Donald Justice, E.A. Robinson, Clyde Edgerton, Flannery O'Connor, William Shakespeare, and Walt McDonald. Not only what I read but what I teach, then, influences my writing. Philosophy has been a particular focus in the last ten years. Yet another influence in my work has been my teachers, especially the ones with whom I have remained in contact over the years. Last, but far from least, is my wife. Without her support it would not have happened.
"Writing process? I write most things in my head before I ever commit them to paper or, now, to a flash drive. When I do start to write down those thoughts, I work straight through, from introduction to conclusion, before I begin the rewrite process. Nothing sent to an editor is ‘first draft’ or ‘off the top of my head.’ The editors with whom I have been fortunate enough to work have taught me a great deal about writing. Although I do not agree with every change they suggest, I divorce myself from the edited work and try to see it from their perspective. When I separate myself from it, I learn.
"My choice of subjects has been from personal interest. In 1962 I read All the King's Men and knew I wanted to know more about Robert Penn Warren, the writer. My interest in his writing has not waned; and when I discover something new, perhaps a new angle or an unpublished piece, I want to share it with students and scholars. For example, the sixty-year correspondence between Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren fascinated me. I asked each of them if they would mind if I edited those letters. Their response was they doubted if there was anything in those letters of much interest. That book of letters came out in 1998 (predating the ongoing volumes of Selected Letters of Robert Penn Warren, he later clarified), and critics who reviewed the book initially were appreciative of the relationship that correspondence represents. Among some of the other subjects, I enjoy Edgerton's and O'Connor's humor; I appreciate Donald Justice's sense of form in his poetry in an era that is relatively formless; and McDonald depicts relationships that I can relate to in his poetry.
"Changes to my writing are difficult for me to assess. However, I know the direction in which I am heading. My academic writing is slowing down, and I am preparing to spend more time on my creative efforts. My volume of poems is about half filled. After being put aside for a rest, my beast fables are due for revision. And since I have taught fiction, poetry, and drama throughout my teaching career, I want to write at least one book in each genre to see for myself whether I learned anything from the other authors. The ideas for the novel and the play are in my head—the pre-write phase. When you ask about changes, I suppose those goals represent one kind of change in my writing."
More recently Grimshaw commented: "In December 2005, I retired from my second of three twenty-year careers (the first was the U.S. Air Force and the second was Texas A&M University in Commerce). A frequent reaction when asked about the third twenty-year career was to answer, tongue in cheek, ‘five-string banjo player in Bo's Black Land Blue Grass Band.’ Actually, my third career is writing. I still have a fire in my belly to write; it is just a slower fire now. Trying to stay abreast of the changes in audience expectations, in focus, and in trends continues to be a challenge.
"I know the direction in which I want to go in this third twenty-year career. Three academic books, which have been on the back burner too long, are in process. As I complete them, I shall spend more time on my creative efforts. My earlier volume of poems will change. My beast fables have been revised but not for the last time. My desire to write fiction, poetry, and drama has not been lost; that fire still simmers. My writing, overall, is somewhat bolder. And now, in this third career, I feel much freer to let the fire rage until it burns itself out."