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Junior Burke is an American writer who, from January 2006 to June 2010, served as Chair of Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado, and remains on its faculty.
Publications, productions and music
Burke was born in Illinois (legal name, Thomas Burke Bishop, Jr.) and grew up there and in Georgia and California. In the 1990s, his prose began to achieve notice, receiving an award in the essay category from New Millennium Writing, one of six writers cited nationally. The novel Something Gorgeous (Farfalla, McMillan & Parrish) appeared in 2005. This work of speculative fiction explored the historical background of the era that spawned The Great Gatsby, and was lauded for its invention by the UK's Historical Novels Review. In 2013, in a slightly revised version, it became widely available as an e/book.
In 1999, he was invited to Naropa University to teach in the Summer Writing Program and, for Naropa, designed and implemented a low residency MFA degree in Creative Writing. In 2004, he founded the e/zine not enough night, which has included interviews he conducted with Joyce Johnson, Ed Sanders and Gary Snyder. Also in 2004, he accepted a Lecturer’s position in the Film Studies Department at the University of Colorado. After three years of directing Naropa’s low/res program, he was tapped to be Chair of Writing & Poetics for the Kerouac School, founded in 1974 by poets Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg. In 2014, he designed and introduced a BA Minor in Film & Media Studies at Naropa.
Burke was one of the chief organizers of the first-of-its-kind "Poetic Film Symposium" held in Boulder in June, 2011. A collaboration between Naropa and the University of Colorado, the event was largely funded by a Mellon Grant presented to Tom Gunning of the University of Chicago. Besides showing classic works of experimental film, it also premiered a number of new films, as well as presentations from eminent film scholars such as Gunning and Daniel Kane, author of "We Saw the Light: Conversations Between New American Cinema and Poetry." Burke's account of the event, "Notice What You Notice" appeared in Bomb Magazine.
Besides literary writing, Junior Burke is a songwriter and dramatist whose works have been widely performed, produced and recorded, receiving critical acclaim in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and music publications such as Billboard and Downbeat, as well as earning a Cable Ace Award and an RIAA Gold Record. His most recent stage production, written with composers Brian and Erin Schey, "One October Midnight", based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, had its world premier in 2013 at the Finger Lakes Theater Festival (Hamilton, New York).