John Griswold

John Griswold is a staff writer at The Common Reader. His most recent book is a collection of essays, Pirates You Don’t Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life (2014, University of Georgia Press). His forthcoming book about veterans at Standing Rock will be published in 2019. He is the founding Series Editor of Crux, a literary nonfiction book series at University of Georgia Press.

Posts by John Griswold

Hiraizumi to Akakura Onsen

This day’s walk would be nine miles, with an overloaded pack and 2,100 feet of elevation change. Three trains, including the “Peregrine Falcon,” one of Japan’s fastest shinkansen, took me to Naruko Onsen by 10 am. Full of egg-salad sandwich, yogurt, and coffee, I had a tickle of pleasure in my stomach, and a warm […]

Matsushima to Hiraizumi

At dawn the fishing boats of Matsushima swung on their anchors with the tide. A flock of cormorants, fishing a few yards from shore, panicked as a group, plashed across the water, and took flight. The port smelled of seawater and diesel. I was headed out for another day on the Basho trail, with more […]

Sendai to Matsushima

Cyclists were lined up at rail crossings, holding clear umbrellas and wearing clear plastic ponchos, during morning rush hour, somewhere in Tōhoku. The train from Sendai pulled in to an open platform with no station sign, and I asked a boy across the aisle if this was Kokufu-Tagajo. He looked up, alarmed, and by instinct […]

Tokyo to Sendai

“Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they have sought,” Matsuo Bashō says, in the Hass translation. Too late: I am in Sendai, Japan, to begin walking a segment of Bashō’s Narrow Road. Besides, Bashō was chasing the poet Saigyō and thinking of other poets’ lives and work, as he and […]

On the Narrow Road to the Interior

I will be writing from Japan over the next weeks, thanks to The Newman Exploration Center and a Newman Exploration Travel Fund Grant, funded by the Eric P. & Evelyn Newman Foundation, at Washington University in St. Louis. My main activity will be to walk a segment of poet Matsuo Bashō’s journey along the “Narrow […]

Meet, Greet, and Gaze Lovingly Into Stars’ Eyes

Ever wonder what your favorite actors from old TV shows are up to? There is a chance they are down at the Hollywood Show, a fan meet-and-greet at the LAX Westin, as well as in Las Vegas and Chicago. It is in its 40th year. The Show is run by David and Esther Elkouby, owners […]

The Only Thing You Done Was Yesterday

Spoilers ahead.   After 12 seconds of a mysterious global blackout, the world of Yesterday becomes just a little different from ours. There is Pepsi, but no Coke; Stones but no Beatles. It is as if the secret conceit of the movie, directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and written by Richard Curtis (Love Actually), is […]

Like Ice Sitting on a Cold Stove

Good writing, like any craft or art, convinces us of its inevitability. “It’s like all your sentences always existed, just waiting around in Style Heaven, or wherever, for you to fetch them down,” the admiring student in Wonder Boys says. Maybe the better word is intentionality: the confidence that a work (novel, painting, song, poem) […]

Foraging the Good Stuff

Rob Connoley, who owns Bulrush STL, was foraging near I-170 this morning with three of his staff. Bulrush is the newly-opened restaurant in St. Louis with “contemporary interpretations of historic (1820-1870) Ozark cuisine.” “Everything is made from scratch, every single day,” Rob said as he picked mulberries from a tree on the grounds of Pinnacle […]

Pompeii and the Deep Unease of Absence

The St. Louis Science Center has an exhibit now called “Pompeii: The Exhibition,” with 150 artifacts on loan from the Naples National Archaeology Museum. “A volcano awakens, a city vanishes,” signs say. Visitors must look first at artifacts of everyday life in Pompeii, then stand through a short CGI movie of Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 […]