Lee Gutkind

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lee Gutkind is an American writer, speaker, and literary innovator, founder of the literary magazine Creative Nonfiction, the first and the largest literary journal to publish narrative/creative nonfiction exclusively. Spotlighted in Vanity Fair Magazine in 1997 as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction”, Gutkind has been its most active advocate and practitioner both as editor and writer.

Gutkind has written or edited more than 30 books, immersing himself in diverse worlds, sometimes for months or years, to produce creative nonfiction portraits about subjects such as the motorcycle subculture, child and adolescent mental illness, baseball umpires, veterinary medicine and organ transplantation.

Currently he is Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes and Professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University.


Early life[edit]

Gutkind was born in 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and educated at the University of Pittsburgh. After high school and service in the United States Coast Guard, he worked his way through the University of Pittsburgh as a truck driver, traveling shoe salesman and public relations account executive, traveling throughout the country promoting the Helium Centennial for the U.S. Department of the Interior. After his first book was published, Bike Fever, which profiled the motorcycle subculture, he joined Pitt’s Department of English where he became the first tenured professor at the university without an advanced degree.

His immersion experiences into the motorcycle subculture, the organ transplant milieu, baseball umpires, and in other un-mined worlds about which he has written, along with the literary techniques he has developed, has helped to create a new paradigm for writing about the world — the “literature of reality” that is creative nonfiction.[1]

Gutkind is founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine devoted to nonfiction narrative. He is also editor of Best Creative Nonfiction, an annual anthology of creative nonfiction. Gutkind is author of You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction, From Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything In Between. Gutkind has written 15 books, and edited 18 collections and volumes. In celebration of his impact on the genre, In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction, was published in 2004 by W.W. Norton. Book List called In Fact “an electrifying anthology . . . an exciting and defining creative nonfiction primer.” [1]

Vanity Fair Magazine proclaimed Gutkind “the Godfather” behind the creative nonfiction movement, and Harper’s Magazine noted that he is “the leading figure behind the creative nonfiction movement.”


When Gutkind began pioneering creative nonfiction, few if any university creative writing programs offered courses or degrees, but he saw creative nonfiction as a way of connecting students with the real world through what he called “the literature of reality.” Today, poets, novelists, journalists, playwrights recognize the art and challenge of creative nonfiction, capturing their lives and the lives of others through memoir, biography and other forms of documentary drama. Gutkind helped found MFA programs in narrative and creative nonfiction at Pitt and subsequently at Goucher College in Maryland.

With Creative Nonfiction magazine, Gutkind has introduced the literature of reality to a new set of practitioners—scientists, engineers, policy scholars, mathematicians, roboticists, philosophers—outstanding men and women– innovators and scholars. At Arizona State University, he founded the ThinkWritePublish program, supported by The National Science Foundation (Science in Society) and the Templeton Foundation (True Stories About Science and Religion).

Gutkind has presented his “True Stories That Matter” techniques ideas to record-breaking audiences at the National Press Club in Washington, to scientists and engineers at the National Academy of Science, to advocates at Earth Justice, to teachers and administrators at the Institute for Learning, to scholars at the International Design Frontiers national conference, to the Council on Healthcare Economics and Policy at Princeton University–and to librarians, museums and creative writing programs—from China, to Australia to the Middle East.

Gutkind founded the creative nonfiction program and MFA degree at the University of Pittsburgh, the first in the world. He helped found the low residency MFA program in creative nonfiction at Goucher College, and was director of the Mid-Atlantic Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference at Goucher for 11 years. He was the director and founder of the 412 Creative Nonfiction Literary Festival for four years, a citywide literary event that provides professional development to students and city residents and fosters the strength of the local writing community. Gutkind also served as the Virginia G. Piper Distinguished Writer in Residence at Arizona State University in 2007-2008.


Lee Gutkind's list of honorary achievements include: The Steve Allan Individual Award, by United Mental Health, Inc; Chancellor's Award for Public Service; Meritorious Service Award by American Council on Transplantation; Howard Blakeslee Award by the American Heart Association for "outstanding journalism; Golden Eagle Award by CINE, for the film A Place Just Right; Recipient of National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. In 2004, Gutkind was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Chatham College.


Lee Gutkind’s books have been praised for being simultaneously personal and universally informative. His award-winning Many Sleepless Nights, an inside chronicle of the world of organ transplantation, has been reprinted in Italian, Korean and Japanese editions. An Unspoken Art, a profile of veterinary medicine, was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. His book about major league umpires, The Best Seat In Baseball, But You Have to Stand!, was called by USA Today "unprecedented, revealing, startling and poignant."

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction, From Memoir to Literary Journalism to Everything in Between, is “reminiscent of Stephen King’s fiction handbook On Writing,” according to Kirkus Review — "An accessible, indispensable nonfiction guidebook from an authority who knows his subject from cover to cover.”

Gutkind frequently crosses genres as a writer, editor and reporter. He is a published novelist, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, and served as a consulting editor at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. teaching narrative techniques to reporters, producers and editors on the Science Desk. Also as the former director of the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh, Lee Gutkind pioneered the teaching of creative nonfiction, conducting workshops and presenting readings throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and Israel.


Title Description Publisher Year ISBN
You Can't Make This Stuff Up A writer's guide to reading & writing creative nonfiction. Da Capo Lifelong Books 2012 ISBN 978-0-7382-1554-9
An Immense New Power to Heal: The Promise of Personalized Medicine Co-authored with Pagan Kennedy, this book delves into the personal side of medicine, offering the physician’s perspective and the patient’s experience through intimate narratives and case studies. In Fact Books 2012 ISBN


Truckin' with Sam A memoir chronicling several years of Gutkind's experiences traveling across the United States and the world with his son Sam, who appears later in the book as a co-author. State University of New York Press 2010 ISBN 978-1-4384-3259-5
Almost Human: Making Robots Think Documents four years of observation at the Carnegie-Mellon University Robotics Institute, as they imagine, design, build, and test robots. Some scenes also take place at NASA and in the Atacama Desert in Chile. W. W. Norton 2007 ISBN 978-0-393-05867-3
Forever Fat: Essays by the Godfather A memoir. University of Nebraska Press 2004 ISBN 0-8032-2194-0
The Best Seat in Baseball, But You Have to Stand: The Game as Umpires See It A reprint of the original 1973 book from Dial Press. University of Southern Illinois Press 1999 ISBN 978-0-8093-2195-7
The Veterinarian's Touch: Profiles of Life Among the Animals Various profiles of veterinarians. Owl Books 1998 ISBN 978-0-8050-5811-6
The Art of Creative Nonfiction: The Literature of Reality A writer's guide to the craft of creative nonfiction. John Wiley & Sons 1996 ISBN 0-471-11356-5
Creative Nonfiction: How to Live it and Write It A guide to teach young writers how to use creative nonfiction Chicago Review Press 1996 ISBN 1-55652-266-5
Stuck in Time: The Tragedy of Childhood Mental Illness An examination of the American health care system. Henry Holt and Company 1994 ISBN 0-8050-1469-1
One Children's Place: Inside a Children's Hospital An examination of the American health care system. A Plume Book by Penguin 1992 ISBN 978-0-452-26687-2
Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation An inside look at the world of organ transplantation. W. W. Norton & Co. 1990 ISBN 978-0-8229-5905-2
The People of Penn's Woods West Essays about rural America. University of Pittsburgh Press 1984 ISBN 978-0-8229-5360-9
God's Helicopter A novel. Slow Loris Press 1983 ISBN 978-0-941038-09-6
The Best Seat in Baseball, But You Have to Stand: The Game As Umpires See It An inside look at the life of major league umpires. Dial Press 1975 ISBN 978-0-8093-2195-7
Bike Fever: An Examination of the Motorcycle Subculture Lee's first book. Avon Books, Inc. 1974 ISBN 978-0-695-80380-3


Title Description Publisher Year ISBN
Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living With Mental Illness Introduction by Patrick J. Kennedy, and foreword by Dr. Karen Wolk Feinstein. In Fact Books 2016 ISBN


What I Didn’t Know: True Stories of Becoming a Teacher In these twenty personal narratives, teachers provide us with a fascinating insight into a profession that touches us all. In Fact Books 2016 ISBN


Same Time Next Week: True Stories of Working Through Mental Illness These dramatic narratives communicate clearly the rewards of helping patients move forward with their lives, often through a combination of medication, talk therapy, and common sense. Collectively, these true stories highlight the need for empathy and compassion. In Fact Books 2015 ISBN


Oh, Baby: True Stories About Conception, Adoption, Surrogacy, Pregnancy, Labor, and Love Co-edited with Alice Bradley. Introduction by Lisa Belkin. In Fact Books 2015 ISBN


The Rightful Place of Science: Creative Nonfiction Contributing authors: Michael Zirulnik; Lee Gutkind; David Guston; Elizabeth Popp Berman; Adam Briggle; Roberta Chevrette; Gwen Ottinger; Angela Records; Meera Lee Sethi; Sara Wehlchel; Rachel Zurer; Ross Carper; Sonja Schmid Consortium for Science, Policy, & Outcomes 2015 ASIN


For the Love of Baseball: A Celebration of the Game That Connects Us All Co-edited by Andrew Blauner. Introduction by Yogi Berra.

United by the authors’ fervent love of the game, each chapter in this book reminds us of the unique role baseball plays in our national history and collective imagination.

Skyhorse Publishing 2014 ISBN


Southern Sin: True Stories of the Sultry South and Women Behaving Badly Co-edited with Beth Ann Fennelly. Introduction by Dorothy Allison. In Fact Books 2014 ISBN


True Stories Well Told: From the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine Co-edited with Hattie Fletcher. Introduction by Susan Orlean. In Fact Books 2014 ISBN


Writing Away the Stigma: Ten Courageous Writers Tell True Stories About Depression, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, OCD, PTSD and More In this collection, ten writers confront the stigma of mental illness head-on, bravely telling stories of devastating depressions, persistent traumas, overwhelming compulsions, and more. In Fact Books 2014 ISBN


Creating Nonfiction: Lessons From the Voice of the Genre Co-edited with Robyn Jodlowski. Contributing authors: Roy Peter Clark, Megan Foss, Steven Harvey, Lisa Knopp, Bret Lott, Hilary Masters, Susan Messer, Natalia Rachel Singer In Fact Books 2013 ASIN


I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse True stories of becoming a nurse. In Fact Books 2013 ISBN


True crime: Real-life Stories of Abduction, Addiction, Obsession, Murder, Grave-robbing, and More In Fact Books 2013 ISBN


Great Baseball Stories: Essays, Ruminations, and Nostalgic Reminiscences on Our National Pastime Co-edited with Andrew Blauner, with foreword by Yogi Berra. Skyhorse Publishing 2012 ISBN


At the End of Life: True Stories About How We Die Foreword by Francine Prose. In Fact Books 2012 ISBN


Becoming a Doctor: From Student to Specialist, Doctor-Writers Share Their Experiences. Personal narratives from those who have gone through the process of becoming a doctor. W.W. Norton & Co. 2011 ISBN


Twelve Breaths a Minute: End of Life Essays Twenty-three original, personal narratives that examine the way we as a society care for the dying. Southern Methodist University Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-87074-571-3
Becoming a Doctor: From Student to Specialist, Doctor-Writers Share Their Experiences (CNF description) Physicians recount personal stories from their lives in white coats in this inspired anthology by new and known writers. These original stories reveal the inner lives of the men and women who are often rendered invisible by their white coats. W.W. Norton 2010 ISBN 978-0-393-33455-5
The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 3 A third special issue of Creative Nonfiction that features twenty-five essays that originally appeared in alternative publications, blogs, literary journals, and other publications. W.W. Norton 2009 ISBN 978-0-393-33025-0
The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 2 A second special issue of Creative Nonfiction that features twenty-nine essays that originally appeared in alternative publications, blogs, literary journals, and other publications. W.W. Norton 2008 ISBN 978-0-393-33024-3
Anatomy of Baseball Twenty new and classic essays about the American past time. SMU Press 2008 ISBN 978-0-87074-522-5
Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction Provides writers with the working parameters of the creative nonfiction genre W.W. Norton 2008 ISBN 978-0-393-06561-9
Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives Twelve new essays written by physicians, patients, and family members. Explores the communication breakdown in the current American health care system SMU Press 2007 ISBN 978-0-87074-518-8
The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 1 A special issue of Creative Nonfiction that features twenty-seven essays that originally appeared in alternative publications, blogs, literary journals, and other publications. W.W. Norton 2007 ISBN 978-0-393-33003-8
Hurricanes and Carnivals: Essays by Chicanos, Pochos, Pachucos, Mexicanos, and Expatriates Originally published as Issue 23 of Creative Nonfiction, this book features fifteen essays that push the boundaries between fact and fiction. The University of Arizona Press 2007 ISBN 978-0-8165-2625-3
Our Roots are Deep with Passion: `Creative Nonfiction` Collects New Essays by Italian American Writers Twenty-one essays written by established and emerging writers that explore the unique intersections of language, tradition, cuisine, and culture that characterize the diverse experience of Americans of Italian heritage. Other Press 2006 ISBN 978-1-59051-242-5
Rage & Reconciliation: Inspiring a Health Care Revolution Originally published as issue 21 of Creative Nonfiction, the book includes new essays and an 80- minute CD containing three essays read by professional actors and a panel discussion of the ethical dimensions of the issues raised. Produced in conjunction with Pittsburgh's Jewish Healthcare Foundation, writers tackle health care in America, including problems of patient rights and professional responsibility. SMU Press 2005 ISBN 0-87074-503-4
In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction Twenty-five essays, all originally appearing in Creative Nonfiction, republished in honor of the journal's tenth anniversary. W.W. Norton 2005 ISBN 0-393-32665-9
On Nature: Great Writers on the Great Outdoors Twenty original and previously published essays Jeremy P. Tarcher 2002 ISBN 1-58542-173-1
Healing: 20 Prominent Authors Write About Inspirational Moments of Achieving Health and Gaining Insight Twenty original and previously published essays Jeremy P. Tarcher 2001 ISBN 1-58542-079-4
Lessons in Persuasion: Creative Nonfiction/Pittsburgh Connections Eighteen essays written by writers with ties to the city of Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh Press 2000 ISBN 0-8229-5715-9
Connecting: Twenty Prominent Authors Write About the Relationships That Shape Our Lives Twenty original and previously published essays Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam 1998 ISBN 0-87477-904-9
A View from the Divide: Creative Nonfiction on Health and Science Seventeen essays that attempt to demonstrate the many ways in which aspects of the scientific world—from biology, medicine, physics, and astronomy—can be captured and dramatized for a humanities-oriented readership. University of Pittsburgh Press 1998 ISBN 978-0-8229-5685-3


Other sources:

  • Lee Gutkind's Website
  • Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2007. PEN (Permanent Entry Number): 0000040630.

External links[edit]