Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Selinsgrove, Snyder County
Fincke is the former Director of the Writer's Institute at Susquehanna University. He has also published over thirty works of poetry and short stories.
Awards: Public Poetry Project
Born in Pittsburgh on July 7, 1955, Gary Fincke is the author of 33 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. His work has earned him notable recognition, including seven fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, two Pushcart Prizes, and the Stephen F. Austin Poetry Prize for his collection, The History of Permanence (2011). Fincke was the Charles B. Degenstein Professor of English and Creative Writing and Director of The Writers Institute at Susquehanna University before he retired in December 2016. He lives his wife, Elizabeth, in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.
Gary Fincke was born in Pittsburgh on July 7, 1945, and grew up near Mt. Etna in Pennsylvania in a blue-collar neighborhood. He began his studies in pre-med but became increasingly interested in the arts, particularly writing poems and short stories. After graduating from Thiel College with a BA in 1967, Fincke went on to earn his MA from Miami University in 1969. During his studies, he met Elizabeth Locker, and the two married on August 17, 1968.
From 1968 to 1969, Fincke taught English at the Freedom Area High School in Freedom, Pennsylvania. He then pursued a PhD from Kent State University, which he earned in 1974. That same year he kicked off his literary career with the publication of two poetry chapbooks: Victims (Windy Row Press) and Emptied (Branden Press). Fincke continued teaching as an English Instructor at the Pennsylvania State University Beaver Campus in Monaca, followed by five years (1975-1980) as the Chair of the English Department at LeRoy Central School in LeRoy, New York.
Since, Fincke has published over 33 books—including works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—and has received notable acknowledgments for his work, such as the PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and seven fellowships for Creative Writing from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in many periodicals, including Harper's, Newsday, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, American Scholar and Doubletake.
Fincke's prize-winning essay "The Canals of Mars" (2010) has been cited 11 times as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays and reprinted in The Pushcart Essays, an anthology of the best nonfiction printed during the first 25 years of the Pushcart Prize volumes. His story, “The Blazer Sestina” (2013) won the George Garrett Fiction Prize, and other recent stories have been cited in Best American Stories, the O. Henry Awards, and Pushcart Prize volumes. His essay “Cemeteries” (2010) was awarded the Lewis Prize for Nonfiction from the magazine Weber Studies.
He also received the 1991 Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine and the 1997 Rose Lefcowitz Prize for Poet Lore. His book, Writing Letters for the Blind (2003) received the Ohio State University Press Book Prize for Poetry in 2002 and his manuscript Sorry I Worried You received the Flannery O'Connor Prize for Fiction in 2003.
From 1980 to 2016, Fincke taught at Susquehanna University, where he served as the Charles B. Degenstein Professor of English and Creative Writing and Director of The Writers Institute at Susquehanna University. He and his wife have three children, two boys and one girl. His son Derek, vice-president of Sire Advertising, and daughter Shannon, an artist and teacher, graduated from Susquehanna in English and Art, respectively. His youngest son Aaron attended Duquesne and after touring with the rock band Lifer (Universal/Republic Records), played guitar with the band Breaking Benjamin (Hollywood Records), before forming a new band Stardog Champion. Aaron is the inspiration behind Fincke’s 2004 book Amp'd, which explores the challenges of his son’s fame and profession in the music business from his perspective as a father.
“A great story is not about earth-shattering events,” Fincke states in his Susquehanna University faculty bio. “It’s about digging deep enough into what may seem ordinary to find the small events and moments that lead to choices that ultimately threaten to shatter lives and relationships from within.”
At the time of this writing, Gary Fincke lives with his wife, Elizabeth, in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.
The Food That Shadows Eat. New York: Carlton Press, 1971.
The Double Negatives of Living. Cambridge: Zoland Books, 1992.
Inventing Angels. Cambridge: Zoland Books, 1994.
The Technology of Paradise. Greensboro, NC: Avisson Press, 1997
Almanac for Desire. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000.
Blood Ties: Working Class Poems. St. Louis: Time Being Books, 2002.
Writing Letters for the Blind. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2003.
Standing Around the Heart. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2005.
The Fire Landscape. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 2008.
The History of Permanence. Nacogdoches: Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2011.
Bringing Back the Bones. Nacogdoches: Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016.
How Blasphemy Sounds to God. Braddock: Braddock Avenue Books, 2014
For Keepsies. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1993.
Emergency Calls. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1996.
The Stone Child. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003.
The Proper Words for Sin. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2013.
A Room of Rain. Morgantown: Vandalia Press, 2015
The Killer's Dog. Denver: Elixir Press, 2017
The Out-of-Sorts: New and Selected Stories. Morgantown: Vandalia Press, 2017
Amp'd. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2004.
The Canals of Mars. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2010.
Vanishings. Nacogdoches: Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2015
The Darkness Call: Essays. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2018