Richard Gilbert
Richard S. Gilbert.  Photo by Dinty W. Moore

“It takes stamina and self mastery and faith. It demands those things of you, then gives them back with a little extra, a surprise to keep you coming.” —Tobias Wolff, In Pharaoh’s Army

Richard Gilbert, the author of Shepherd: A Memoir, holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College, Baltimore, and teaches writing at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Gilbert formerly served as marketing manager of Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, where he also helped acquire books. In prior years he worked as a newspaper reporter in Georgia, Florida, and Indiana, where he won awards for public service and feature writing and a Kiplinger fellowship to Ohio State University. His essays have appeared in Brevity; Chautauqua; Fourth Genre; Orion; River Teeth; Utne Reader, and other journals. His articles on farming have appeared in Farming: People, Land, Community; Sheep Canada; The Shepherd; and The Stockman Grassfarmer.

My Memoir & Essays

In the best works of art, be they visual or verbal, the artist’s relationship to the subject matter is passionate and complex.  All the artist’s skill and technique is focused by that passion and complexity.—Rachel Howard

For information about my book Shepherd: A Memoir please visit my Book page. I have published essays in a number of literary journals: “Kathy” appeared in Brevity; “A Dry Year” was published in Chautauqua, whose editors nominated it for a Pushcart Prize; “Midnight on the Farm” appeared in Fourth Genre; “Remembering Paul” was published in Memoir (and); “Wild Ducks” appeared in River Teeth; “My Father’s Tractor” appeared in SNReview. On this site I have published excerpts of my memoir, including the story’s first Prologue and parts of the first Epilogue; other samples can be accessed under the blog’s “My Life” category.

Selected essays, reviews, and interviews are archived on this site’s growing Selected Prose page.

Draft No. 4

After reading the second draft aloud, and going through the piece for the third time (removing the tin horns and radio static that I heard while reading), I enclose things in boxes for Draft No. 4. If I enjoy anything in this process it is Draft No. 4. I go searching for replacements for the words in the boxes. The final adjustments may be small-scale, but they are large to me, and I love addressing them.—John McPhee, “Draft No. 4,” The New Yorker

My blog focuses on prose storytelling in creative nonfiction and fiction, by whatever means of showing and telling. Certain preoccupations have emerged: style, structure, and use of self in narrative prose.

There are two literary cultures in America, academic and New York, and I bivouac between them. The camps are permeable, however, and their borders aren’t well policed. At night, desperate riders on dark horses going in both directions thunder past the picket fires.

For its first five years, the blog was called Narrative. As I explained in a 2013 post, I rechristened it in honor of my book’s transforming draft. Maybe the best compliment the blog and I have ever received came in from a fellow writer, though someone I’ve never met, when I wrote about getting a book contract in Spring 2013:

This blog, its urgency, steady fervor and insight into the art has earned you readers.—DeWitt Henry


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Original writing on this site is Copyrighted by Richard Gilbert. It may be used freely, for noncommercial purposes, with credit.