Born in Lorain, Ohio, I began writing at age eighteen for The Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Ohio, as a freelancer. I later graduated with a degree in journalism from Ohio University, where I was named one of America's 'Top Ten' journalism students by the Scripps Howard Foundation. I took my first job as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. From there, I worked as a book publicist at Andrews McMeel Publishing, where my accounts included G.B. Trudeau's Doonesbury collections, joke books, self-help books, and various general nonfiction trade titles. In 2005 I went back to school to study creative writing in the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program and earn an MFA. I joined Ithaca College's writing department in 2008.
My writing has appeared in the literary magazines Ninth Letter, American Literary Review, and Gulf Coast, the scholarly journal POROI, as well as Salon.com, Men's Edge, and Perspectives. In 2007, I received the David Diamond Prize from the Society for the Study of Midwest Literature, a finalist spot in the nonfiction contest at Mid-American Review, and a writer's residency at the University of Iowa Museum of Art; in 2008, I received the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant from the Ohioana Library Association; and my piece on pet taxidermy, "As I Lay Dying," was cited as notable in Best American Essays 2009; in 2012 I published two lengthy works of reportage on Salon.com ~ one was an immersion story about hanging out with a few thousand French and Indian War historical reenactors, the other was about a small town in Iowa infamous for an unsolved ax murder of eight people in 1912.
I teach classes in the field of creative nonfiction, which includes Feature Writing, Magazine Writing, Travel Writing, and Personal Essay. I also advise the campus literary magazine Stillwater.
- M.F.A., University of Iowa, Nonfiction Writing Program, 2008
- B.S., Journalism, Ohio University, 2002
- Literary Journalism/Creative Nonfiction
- Feature Writing
- Magazine Writing
- Travel Writing
- Advanced Nonfiction
- "Blood, Gore, Tourism: The Ax Murderer Who Saved a Small Town," Salon.com, April 29, 2012
- "Embedded with the Reenactors," Salon.com, January 8, 2012
- “Manhood, Lorain-Style,” personal essay, Poroi, University of Iowa, 6, 1, published in July 2009 “Writing Public Culture” issue
- “Nick Kowalczyk on the Lorain, Ohio Experience,” an interview with Rust Wire blog, posted April 27, 2009
- “Dear Lorain,” literary journalism/personal essay, Ohioana Quarterly, Vol. Ll, No. 3, Fall 2008
- “Publicly Blind: A Journey,” journalism profile, Arts & Sciences magazine, University of Iowa, Fall 2008
- “As I Lay Dying,” literary journalism, Ninth Letter, Summer 2008
- “Constructing Spotted Dog,” literary journalism, American Literary Review, Spring 2007
WORKS IN PROGRESS
- American City, A Memoir (a booklength meditation on family, social class, and the decline of Lorain, Ohio)
- Beneath the Surface of Lives (an essay collection about buried and neglected truths in the contemporary American Midwest)