David W. Berner is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, author, and teacher. His first book, Accidental Lessons was awarded the 2011 Royal Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature. His broadcast reporting and audio documentaries have been aired on the CBS Radio Network, NPR’s Weekend Edition and a number of public radio stations across America. David has been the recipient of awards from the Associated Press, RTNDA (Radio and Television News Directors Association) and the Broadcast Education Association.
David was awarded the position of Writer-in-Residence at the Jack Kerouac Project in Orlando, Florida for the summer of 2011. His writing, both reporting and personal essays, have appeared in publications and online journals such as Under the Gum Tree, Chicagoland Journal, PERIGEE, Tiny Lights Journal, Shaking Like a Mountain, Travelgolf.com, Worldgolf.com, Golf Chicago Magazine, The Sun Newspapers, and Write City Magazine. David is also a performer. He’s a regular on the Chicago storytelling circuit, reading his personal essays at events such as 2nd Story, Story Club, Essay Fiesta, and This Much is True. As an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago, he teaches radio narrative, audio documentary, and writing. He has presented writing workshops at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and for numerous literary organizations throughout the Chicago area.
David holds a Masters in Education/Teaching from the Aurora University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He also tries to find still time to play guitar and watch as much TV coverage as possible of his beloved Steelers.
He lives in Forest Park, Illinois just outside Chicago.
And now from the author himself:
Where I Write
There’s forever been that romantic belief that writers do their work in wonderful, even glorious spaces. Dylan Thomas had his shed, the boathouse in Wales, a spare spot of fertile ground where wonderful ideas germinate. Some see the writer toiling away in the oak lined room of a country estate; the surrounding shelves lined the classics. But here’s the reality: many if not most writers work in far less picturesque or grand places. An author friend of mine writes nearly everything on a simple, lined legal pad while lying on her twin bed in her tiny studio apartment on Chicago gritty West Side. The place where I write is somewhere between the meager and the grand. Truth is, I write in a lot of places: coffee shops, trains, slumped in my living room couch. But one spot is a favorite. It’s a corner of my small dining room near the window where I can hear city noises. I like the soundtrack of traffic, car tires on rain, the bells of the old church across the street, the voices of those walking by. I like being surrounded by books I’m reading and the beloved old ones. Their presence inspires. Coffee is necessary. And behind me there are two photographs that have always been special to me. One is of Hemingway’s writing space at his home in Key West and the other is by photographer Zeny Cieslikowski entitled “San Francisco”. It’s an image of the street outside City Lights Bookstore, one of my favorite literary destinations. Below them is a portable Royal typewriter, circa 1940. I don’t always write in this space, but when I do it may be the best place in the world. It not only drives my work, but it helps to present the importance of “place” in my stories.
I first experienced how important a writing space could be when I was given the opportunity to be the writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida. It’s the modest home he lived with his mother after all the attention of On the Road, and where he wrote The Dharma Bums. The three-month experience of writing in such a revered place, allowed for a renewed attention to “place” in a story. Setting can be as much a character in a work as the voices heard in those spaces. When I started writing Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons, my memoir of a 5000-mile road trip and the struggles and triumphs of fatherhood, I rediscovered the importance of space, setting, and place. Where the story happens, why it happens in that location, in that house, on that road is crucial to the story. Each of the stops along the long journey in Any Road Will Take You There evokes a memory, a moment that fuels the trip and the story.
Just like the places where I write, the places in my stories have meaning, something true and honest and revealing.
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