Portrait of a professor as a writer

Ed Rielly

English professor and author Edward Rielly has wide-ranging interests: Westerns and TV shows, the Vietnam era, haiku, Native American history and culture, sports, poetry and detective fiction. He’s written about them all.

For Edward Rielly, growing up on a farm in Wisconsin and attending a oneroom schoolhouse are more than life experiences. They are continual sources of inspiration for his poems, articles, essays, short stories and books.

A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s College since 1978, Dr. Rielly has been expressing himself on the printed page for as long as he can remember. “I really like to write. It has always been a part of who I am,” says the author of approximately 22 books to date. “And while I enjoy the process, it never gets easier.”

Rielly writes about topics of personal interest, many of which mirror courses that he teaches at the college. “As a child, I watched Westerns on television and that led to an interest in the real history of the West. I wrote a biography of Sitting Bull that was published in 2007, and in June Legends of American Indian Resistance will be published,” he explains. “My course in baseball literature has inspired essays, poems, and an encyclopedia. This fall, I’ll teach a new course on detective fiction. I edited a collection of essays on teaching that subject back in 2009 and have a book proposal being considered.”

Unlike some authors, Rielly doesn’t write every day. During the academic year, he reserves Thursdays for his own writing. Summers, he generally writes weekday mornings and does research in the afternoon. Poetry is written “in smaller bits. I may get inspired to write a poem while reading in the evening.”

Asked to name authors who have influenced him, Rielly cites Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He also credits Father Raymond Roseliep, his undergraduate creative writing teacher at Loras College in Iowa, with encouraging him to write Oriental poetry; specifically, haiku and haibun, a combination of haiku and prose. Rielly won national prizes for his haibun in 2004 and 2009.

What book does he consider to be the best ever written in English? “I can’t name just one, but I’ll tell you my favorites – Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels,” he says.

His current projects include a Western novel, a memoir of his childhood years, and football articles for an essay collection. He’d like to write a book on Westerns that could be used as a textbook or perhaps a book on a television series like “Gunsmoke.” His poetry writings are ongoing.

“I’m never at a loss for ideas, but finding the time is the biggest challenge, especially when you’re teaching full time,” he says. “But I’m very organized and have a real ability to focus and concentrate and get a lot done in a short space of time. I don’t believe in writer’s block.”

Rielly offers this advice to aspiring writers: “Read and write a lot and don’t get discouraged. I can remember when everything I was sending out was rejected. You have to keep at it.”

Books by Dr. Edward Rielly

Legends of American Indian Resistance
(forthcoming from ABC-CLIO)

Murder 101: Essays on Teaching Detective
Fiction (McFarland & Company, 2009)

Football: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
(Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2009)

Sitting Bull: A Biography
(Greenwood Press, 2007)

Old Whitman Loved Baseball and Other Baseball Poems
(Moon Pie Press, 2007)

Baseball in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching the National Pastime
(McFarland & Company, 2006)

F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography
(Greenwood Press, 2005)

Ways of Looking: Poems of the Farm
(Moon Pie Press, 2005)

Baseball: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
(paperback ed., Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2005)

A Fine, Safe Journey
(poetry; Pudding House, 2003)

Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond
(Haworth Press, 2003)

The 1960s
(Greenwood Press, 2003)

Baseball: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
(ABC-CLIO, 2000)

Abandoned Farmhouse and Other Haiku
(Press Here, 2000)

How Sky Holds the Sun
(poetry, AHA [online], 1998)

Anniversary Haiku
(Brooks Books, 1997)

My Struggling Soil
(poetry; Plowman Press, 1994)

Approaches to Teaching Swift's Gulliver's Travels
(MLA, l988)

The Breaking of Glass Horses and Other Poems
(Great Elm, l988)

The Furrow's Edge
(poetry chapbook; Juniper, l987)

Family Portrait
(poetry chapbook; Advance, l987)

Rain Falling Quietly
(poetry chapbook; Wind Chimes, l985)