Michael Steinberg, Essayist, Editor, Teacher, Dies at 79

December 18, 2019

Mike SteinbergMichael Steinberg, a champion and major figurehead of American nonfiction, passed away on December 12 at his home in Lansing, Michigan. In addition to authoring and editing six books and a stage play, Steinberg founded a flagship literary journal for creative nonfiction, Fourth Genre.

“Mike Steinberg was first and foremost a generous man, and funny,” remarked nonfiction author Dinty W. Moore. “Because we both edited nonfiction magazines, Mike and I intersected on panels at countless AWP conferences, and his advice to upcoming writers was always wise and encouraging.”

Steinberg also served a long and decorated tenure as a teacher, holding a position at Michigan State University between 1969 and 2000. Steinberg also taught on the faculties of several MFA programs. Through Fourth Genre and other avenues, he remained a constant source of mentorship for numerous writers in their early stages.

“When an [AWP] panel ended, he would retreat to the hallway and offer more advice, one-to-one, for as long as people wanted to talk. That was the public Mike Steinberg, but behind the scenes he was quietly mentoring even more writers, helping them publish in his magazine, Fourth Genre, then following their careers and offering support for years beyond,” said Moore.

In 2003, Steinberg’s memoir Still Pitching won the ForeWord Magazine / Independent Press Memoir of the Year award. Steinberg’s Living in Michigan, Dreaming Manhattan: Essays and Memoirs 1990-2015 was nominated for a 2018 Michigan Notable Book award.

Steinberg was an active and compassionate citizen within the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

“He loved craft, and he loved writers, and he loved a good laugh,” concluded Moore. “He is going to be greatly missed.”


Photo Credit: Carole Steinberg Berk

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