Authors and Artists

Fall 2021


by George A. Drake ’56

From his undergraduate experience at Grinnell in the 1950s to his retirement from Grinnell at age 85, George Drake recounts the story of his 70 years as a student and educator. He recollects the influence of his Grinnell professors, such as Joe Wall, Homer Norton, Fred Baumann, and John Kleinschmidt. After graduating in 1956, Drake spent a year in Paris on a Fulbright scholarship, studied for two years at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and completed graduate work at the University of Chicago in 1964. He began as an assistant professor at Colorado College and rose to become dean of the college and implement the distinctive Block Plan. In 1979, he was appointed president of Grinnell College, serving until 1991, and he reminisces about the innovations and crises of his tenure. In 1991, he and his wife, Sue, spent two years as Peace Corps volunteers in Lesotho. In 1994 he returned to Grinnell and taught full time for 10 years and continued teaching part time until 2020, particularly enjoying teaching the First-Year Tutorial.

Lamar University Literary Press published Snow in New York: New and Selected Poems, the sixth collection of poetry by Matthew Brennan ’77, in May. His subjects include family, love, and memory, as well as art, history, and landscape.

Dean Robbins ’80 is a children’s author with four nonfiction picture books out in 2021. Thank You, Dr. Salk!: The Scientist Who Beat Polio and Healed the World was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in June. The Fastest Girl on Earth! Meet Kitty O’Neil, Daredevil Driver! was published by Knopf in August. Mambo Mucho Mambo!: The Dance That Crossed Color Lines was published by Candlewick in October. And in December, Scholastic will publish You Are a Star, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Robbins’ previous works tell the stories of Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Alice Paul, Margaret Hamilton, and Alan Bean.

by George A. Drake ’56

Edward Steiner was Rand Professor of Applied Christianity at Grinnell for 38 years in the early 20th century. He was perhaps the most published faculty member in College history, publishing more than 20 books and 50 articles during his career. In this chapbook, George Drake recounts Steiner’s life as an immigrant from Slovakia, the hardships he experienced until he mastered the English language, and his adherence to ideals of the Social Gospel and Applied Christianity. He crossed the Atlantic at least 12 times, always in steerage, while interviewing immigrants. His friendship with Leo Tolstoy influenced him profoundly. And, in turn, he influenced Grinnell’s five New Deal administrators, including Harry Hopkins 1912.

The Walt Disney Studios and World War II exhibition, curated by Kent Ramsey ’77, is a retrospective of The Walt Disney Studios’ extensive contributions to the Allies’ World War II effort. This original exhibition illustrates how The Walt Disney Studios devoted over 90% of its wartime output to producing training, propaganda, entertainment, public-service films, publicity, print campaigns, and more than 1,200 insignia, while also deploying a group of talented artists, including Walt Disney himself, to Latin America on a goodwill tour. The exhibition opened in March 2021 at the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall at the Presidio in San Francisco and will move to Seattle’s Museum of Flight in 2022.

John Fritzell ’89 published his first chapter book of poems, Thuribles, through Kelsay Books in May. Fritzell was short-listed in Tiny Seed Literary Journal’s annual chapbook contest and was a finalist for the North Dakota State University Press’ Poets of the Plains and Prairies (POPP) chapbook awards. He is a member of The Mill, a place for writers, and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (WFOP).

Where the Sky Meets the Ocean and the Air Tastes Like Metal and the Birds Don’t Make a Sound, by Mike Kleine ’11 and Dan Hoy, was published in July by TRNSFR books. Kleine describes the book as “a little soft sci-fi, cli-fi, ambient lit, and somewhat theory-fiction.” In it, detectives Michael and Daniel must try to solve a murder on planet Earth. The victim may or may not be named Jane from Yesterday. And the Man of One Thousand Years, cult leader of the Architects of Q’Noor, may or may not be responsible.

Summer 2021


All the Comfort Sin Can Provide, being published in July by Black Lawrence Press, is a collection of brutally unsentimental short stories by Grant Faulkner ’87. Faulkner chronicles dreamers, addicts, and lost souls who have trusted too much in wayward love, the perilous balm of substances, or the unchecked hungers of others, but who are determined to find salvation in their odd definitions of transcendence.

In March, Thomas A. Greenfield ’70 published his fourth book, American Musicals in Context: From the American Revolution to the 21st Century, from Greenwood/ABC-Clio. The new book gives students a fresh look at history-based musicals, helping readers understand the American story through one of the country’s most celebrated art forms: the musical.

In January, NYU Press published Fear in Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us About America by Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, Grinnell associate professor of religious studies and history and director of the Center for the Humanities. Elfenbein incorporates data from the Grinnell College National Poll and many other sources to examine Islamophobia in the United States, positing that rather than simply being an outcome of the 9/11 attacks, anti-Muslim activity grows out of a fear of difference that has always characterized American public life.