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Junior Burke

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Born Thomas Burke Bishop, Jr., Junior Burke is an American fiction writer, songwriter and (former) educator.


Burke's novel, Something Gorgeous was published in 2005. This work of speculative fiction explored the background of the era that spawned The Great Gatsby and was lauded for its invention by the UK's Historical Novel Society. In 2012, in a slightly revised version, it became available as an e/book. In 2005, Burke founded the online literary journal, "not enough night" and served as Executive Editor until he and fellow editor Maureen Owen chose to discontinue publication in 2014. "A Thousand Eyes", an eco-horror novel, was published in 2018 in the UK and US by Cosmic Egg Books, an imprint of John Hunt Ltd. In 2020, "The Cold Last Swim", was published by Gibson House Press, one of five finalists for a Sidewise Award, the annual prize for works of Alternate History. Burke's short story "The Evan Price Signature Model" is included in the May 2021 anthology "Collectibles" edited by Lawrence Block, published by Subterranean Press. His novel, “Buddha Was a Cowboy", was published by Gibson House Press in September 2022 and was a finalist for the Chanticleer International Mark Twain Book Award in the category of Comedy and Satire.


His songs have earned a Cable Ace Award (from an HBO performance) and an RIAA Gold Record. While he writes music and lyrics on archtop and classical guitar, he provides lyrics for composers, keyboardists in particular, in several genres and often accompanies performing and recording artists on harmonica and dulcimer. Artists who have performed and recorded his songs include: Mandy Patinkin (from the stage show "Dress Casual"); Freddie Jackson (from the film "Def by Temptation"); Nancy Shanks (from the film "About Last Night"); Plus, David Bromberg, King Solomon Hicks, Bonnie Koloc, Richie Havens, Bob Dylan, Utah Phillips, Janet Feder, Louis Rosen, Megon McDonough, The Alonzo Spirit Band, The Boston Pops, The Tonight Show Band and the Rochester Philharmonic. Junior Burke original recordings include “While You Were Gone” (2007) “Spot of Time” (2018) and the ep “Nothin’ But” (2021).


Junior Burke first taught at Tennessee State University in Nashville in 1997. In 2002, for Naropa University, Burke designed and implemented a highly successful low residency MFA degree in Creative Writing. After three years of directing that program, he was tapped to be Chair of Naropa's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado, founded by poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, serving from January 2006 to June 2010. In May 2008, Burke was the recipient of Naropa's President's Award for "extraordinary dedication and service" throughout that academic year. He remained at Naropa until 2020, at which time he informed the university he would no longer be serving on its faculty, deciding to focus exclusively on creative writing.


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