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Some Information about
Dr. Charles Johnson, Rafael Torch, and Allison Joseph


Dr. Charles Johnson, a 1998 MacArthur Fellow, received the National Book Award for his novel MIDDLE PASSAGE in 1990, and is a 2002 recipient of the Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2003, he was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of four novels, three story collections, and numerous other books and publications he has authored or co-authored or edited. Born in Evanston, Illinois, Charles Johnson began his career as a cartoonist and had his work published when he was just 17. Many of his cartoons were published first in THE DAILY EGYPTIAN, the campus newspaper at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. As an undergraduate at SIUC, Johnson studied with, and was deeply influenced by, novelist and literary theorist John Gardner. A Ph.D. in philosophy, Charles Johnson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SIUC in 1971 and 1973, respectively. In 1995, he received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Southern Illinois University, and in 1994 an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Northwestern.

Rafael Torch (August 15, 1975 - December 12, 2011), a gifted and passionate young writer and educator, published the first of his many vivid, award-winning essays in CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW. The 2004 essay, “La Villita,” reflected on the shooting-death of a gifted high-school student of Torch’s, with whom he had worked closely. In the essay, Torch poignantly memorialized the young man who had lived in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, asking fearless questions about gang violence and growing up in a challenged immigrant community. A native Chicagoan, Rafael Torch spent his coming-of-age years in Cleveland, Ohio, where he graduated from Benedictine High School. He also graduated from Antioch College and obtained a Master’s Degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago in 2005. He received acclaim for his writing, including the Illinois Arts Council Literary Award and the Catherine Ham Memorial Prize. His essays appeared in many print and on-line journals including THE ANTIOCH REVIEW, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, INDIANA REVIEW, and CONTRARY MAGAZINE. Rafael Torch dedicated his life to impacting lives of high school students. As a teacher at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, The Latin School of Chicago, and The Meadows School in Las Vegas, Nevada, Torch influenced hundreds of minds as he challenged his students to rise to their greatest potential.

Allison Joseph is the editor and poetry editor of CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW. She is also the Director of the Young Writers Workshop, a summer creative writing conference specifically designed for high school writers. She is the author of seven books of poems—WHAT KEEPS US HERE, SOUL TRAIN, IN EVERY SEAM, IMITATION OF LIFE, WORLDLY PLEASURES, VOICE, and MY FATHER'S KITES. She holds degrees from Kenyon College and Indiana University. Allison Joseph is is an Associate Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at SIUC. She is a recipient of the 1992 John C. Zacharis First Book Award, a 2007 Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry from the Illinois Arts Council, and the 2009 Aquarius Press Legacy Award.


For More Information About:

Guidelines for the COR Student Writing Awards

Winners of the most recent COR Student Writing Awards

Past Winners of the Charles Johnson Student Fiction Award 2011 - 2005


These awards are co-sponsored by:

Dr. Charles Johnson

Crab Orchard Review

Southern Illinois University Carbondale College of Liberal Arts

The English Department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale


If you don’t find the information you’re looking for on our website, we can always be reached for information about subscriptions, current guidelines, upcoming themes, or contests by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Department of English
Faner Hall 2380 - Mail Code 4503
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
1000 Faner Drive
Carbondale, IL 62901

PHONE: 618-453-6833
FAX: 618-453-8224


Comments: Jon Tribble, Managing Editor, Site Design by Mark Brewin, Copyright © 2009, Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University Saturday, January 18, 2014