Career Trajectory

 

Joseph Kenyon was born in Butler, Pennsylvania at the tail end of the baby boom. Reading and storytelling were early passions. He has made up stories for as long as he can remember. His first attempt at putting a story on paper was a mystery/supernatural story about a woman who used vicious dogs to protect her secret. It remains unfinished.  He soldiered on, publishing his first story a month before receiving his undergraduate degree.

 

An early British Literature class in college introduced Joseph to Jessie Weston's classic From Ritual to Romance, a mythological study of the Arthurian legends, followed quickly by the works of Robertson Davies, J.R.R.Tolkien, James Joyce and, eventually, Joseph Campbell. His fascination with mythology and archetypes quickly led him to explore darker themes in his writing, themes that occasionally crossed over into fantasy. His first stories began to appear regularly in literary and "little" journals during the late 1980s and early 1990s. To this day, myth plays an important role in all his writings but especially in his short stories.

 

Joseph's first novel attempt concerned a group of midwestern boys growing up in the shadow of the Vietnam draft. When Joseph was pursuing his master's degree at Slippery Rock University, he persuaded his thesis director to let him rework the novel and submit it as a creative thesis. At his defense, one of the professors pronounced, "Mr. Kenyon, You'll probably make a good teacher but you'll never be a writer." Joseph took that pronouncement as a challenge.

 

In addition to creative writing, Joseph spent a couple of years working as a journalist in Western Pennsylvania before moving to New Jersey to take a college teaching post. While teaching, he started writing poetry. Because of the demands that teaching and grading other people's writing puts on his time, he developed the habit of writing poetry during the semester when his personal writing time was shorter. He has found it more productive to write fiction during his breaks.

 

Joseph wrote the first draft of All The Living And The Dead in the mid-1990s, but his writing time was seriously curtailed when he cut back his teaching to become department chair. With little time available to search for a publisher and even less time to work on manuscript revisions, he put the novel away.

 

Leaving New Jersey and administrative responsibilities in 2001 for a teaching position in Michigan had a positive effect on Joseph's writing. He began to produce more literary short stories and poetry.

 

However, it was the move to Philadelphia and the faculty post at the Community College of Philadelphia that was the key. There, he found himself one of a community of authors. His association with poets Elaine Terranova and Michael Loughran led him to begin publishing his poetry. The daily contact with writers such as Shawne Johnson, Alan Elyshevitz, and Simone Zelitch, to name but a very few, also had a positive effect leading Joseph into publishing more fiction. When he became involved with the 17th Street Writers, a group readying an anthology of original short fiction for publication, he began to entertain the idea of putting his novels out there again. His long-time editor, Barbara Heaney, re-read All The Living And The Dead and encouraged him to re-work the novel and prepare it for publication.

 

Joseph lives outside of Philadelphia in the eastern suburbs, known to some as New Jersey. He has completed the final draft of his next novel and is in the beginning stages of writing his third.