45. John Dufresne

In honor of our MasterMind genius awards, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature Miami's cultural superheroes in random order. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email [email protected] with the whos and whys.
45. John Dufresne

Author John Dufresne teaches creative writing to MFA students at Florida International University. Although professors are often regarded with eyes of admiration by their students, this one has a long, accomplished career as a novelist and playwright, which makes him worthy of those starry eyes.

Born in Massachusetts, Dufresne has lived in Florida for over two decades. He worked as a social worker before receiving his MFA in creative writing. While at FIU, Dufresne served as editor of Gulf Stream magazine, the school's literary journal. Louisiana Power and Light, the author's first novel in 1994, and the subsequent Love Warps the Mind a Little were both named notable books of the year by the New York Times.

Dufresne recently published Requiem, Mass. (a play on the term for a Catholic mass for the dead), a novel about a middle-aged writer retelling the experience of growing up with a crazy mother and an intense cast of characters. Dufresne is also a playwright, having penned Trailerville, which was performed in New York at the Blue Heron Theatre in 2005.

On his website, he declares, "When I'm confused or beside myself, I try to ask, What would Chekhov do?" It's almost safe to say that Chekov might declare, "Keep writing." Dufresne even holds weekly, free workshops at FIU to coach young scribes who make the trip. For the rest of you, there's always his book about the craft: Is Life Like This? A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months.

1. List five things that inspire you.

- The work, the writing itself. I'm not inspired to write. I write and become inspired.
- Art. Edward Hopper's paintings. Sebastiao Salgado's photographs. Mozart's sublime music. I hear a great song or see a wonderful movie, and I want to run home, sit at my desk, and try to build a story.
- People who quietly struggle and persist, who live their lives with dignity, grace, and good will.
- The stories of William Trevor, Alice Munro, and Anton Chekhov. When I need reminding about what it is I'm trying to do, I read their miraculous stories. I'm happy to be an apprentice in the same craft.
- The ticking clock.
2. What was your last big project?

It's also my current project -- this novel I'm working on and have been for a very long time.
3. What is your next big project?

Finishing some of these dozens of stories I have in file folders on my desk.
4. Why do you do what you do?

It's pretty much the only thing I'm any good at. And I'm not interested in doing anything else.
5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?

I don't engage in online social networking. I write with a fountain pen.
What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?

I'm a Celtics fan and I'm looking forward to the Eastern Division playoffs.

The Creatives so far:

46. Monica Lopez de Victoria
47. Bill Bilowit

48. Alette Simmons-Jimenez
49. Tawnie Silva
50. Ginger Bardot
51. Jonathan David Kane
52. Naomi Fisher
53. Rocky Grimes
54. Teresa Barcelo
55. Paul Tei
56. Lee Materazzi
57. Karla Garcia
58. Anna Mixon
59. Octavio Campos
60. P. Scott Cunningham
61. Elena Garcia
62. Summer Hill
63. Autumn Casey
64. Juan Navarro
65. Serge Toussaint
66. David Rohn
67. Diane Brache
68. Spencer Morin
69. James Anthony
70. Jim Drain
71. Claudia Calle
72. Kevin Arrow

73. Andrew Hevia
74. Ana Mendez
75. Michael McKeever
76. Diana Lozano
77. Ricardo Pau-Llosa
78. Agustina Woodgate
79. Tarell Alvin McCraney
80. Jennifer Kronenberg
81. Farley Aguilar
82. Colin Foord
83. Karelle Levy
84. Matt Gajewski
85. Antonia Wright
86. Allen Charles Klein
87. Christy Gast
88. Gustavo Matamoros
89. Shareen Rubiera-Sarwar

90. Kyle Trowbridge
91. Clifton Childree
92. Jessica Gross
93. Danny Brito
94. Nektar de Stagni
95. Anthony Spinello
96. Vanessa Garcia
97. Justin Long
98. Rosie Herrera
99. Rick Falcon

100. Ingrid B

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Liz Tracy has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, Refinery29, W, Glamour, and, of course, Miami New Times. She was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor for three years. Now she plays one mean monster with her 2-year-old son and obsessively watches British mysteries.
Contact: Liz Tracy