The Premier Writing Organization On
California's Central Coast
Welcome to SLO NightWriters


Tuesday, June 13, 2023 General Meeting:

6:30 pm

Our Speaker will be

John Hampsey  "The Journey Toward Voice"

John Hampsey Bio Info: 

John Hampsey is Professor of English Literature, Cal Poly, specializing in British Romanticism, Classical Greece, and Existentialism. Previously he taught at MIT and Boston University. 

His new book, started last fall, is called Blood and Spirit, and is autobiographical fiction, framed around the years 1969-1978.  

His most recent book, Soda Lake, completed a year ago, is a post-modern novel, and a mix of existential and spiritual mystery, fantasy, and autobiography.  Chapters from Soda Lake have been published in the Alaska Quarterly and the Antioch Review. Soda Lake is currently under consideration at Blair Publishing and Spiegel and Grau. Soda Lake opens with one man seeing another man disappear into the shimmering heat waves of a white salt lake. The novel eventually shifts from the coastal valley of central California to Chicago, Ireland, Greece, France, and back to Ireland, before returning to Soda Lake. The ten-chapter sequence (plus coda) of interconnected stories expand in scope before retracting into mind-bending resolution. As Soda Lake mixes personal and collective history, the characters experience a dissolving of the margins of the self as if, in the midst of the journey into life, the “straightforward path has been lost” (Dante’s Inferno). Velocious, orbital, destabilizing, each chapter of Soda Lake presents a protagonist—possibly a version of a single consciousness—who must decide how to adapt to confusion and threat. A variation of tropes link one character to the others—false identity, hallucinations, intimations of god, imprisonment, eroticism, philosophic journeying... 

His previous book, Kaufman’s Hill, a boyhood memoir, was published in hardback by Bancroft Press in 2015. Tim O’Brien’s front cover blurb for "Kaufman’s Hill claims it “is among the most touching, sensitive, and spellbinding memoirs I've encountered in many years. Beautifully and exactly written, this book will surely reach into the hearts of its readers. I was deeply moved." Howard Zinn, after reading an early version of Kaufman’s Hill, called it “the best book on American boyhood in decades.” Hampsey did a national tour of 31 readings in 24 cities for Kaufman’s Hill. APA, Los Angeles, currently has the film rights for Kaufman’s Hill. The memoir is set in Pittsburgh from 1961-68. 

His first book—Paranoia and Contentment--a Personal Essay on Western Thought (2005, Hardback, University of Virginia Press), won a tremendous jacket blurb from Lawrence Ferlinghetti who described it as “sharply reasoned and intellectually bold. ... This beautifully written book turns upside down our standard thinking about creativity, imagination, and what it is to be wholly human.” Paranoia and Contentmentis the first book to view paranoia in a positive light and to use the concept to re-examine Western thought. 

In September 2019, Hampsey was awarded a one month solo writer’s residency at the Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland, to work on the last chapters of Soda Lake. 
He has published over thirty-five essays and stories in such places as The Gettysburg Review(four times), The Midwest Quarterly (twice), Dialogi, Antioch Review(/twice), Philosophy and Literature, European Romantic Review, Witness, Sexuality and Culture, Colby Quarterly, Philosophy and Literature, Alaska Quarterly Review/ (twice), /The Forum, Arizona

Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, The Boston Globe, Chronicle of Higher Education, McNeese Review.

Attend in person at:

United Church of Christ

11245 Los Osos Valley Road, San Luis Obispo, CA

Zoom meeting link:

Meeting ID: 848 7459 8868

Passcode: 613345 

I hope to see you there.

Janice Konstantinidis

President SLO NightWriters

We meet at the United Church of Christ, at 11245 Los Osos Valley Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405.

 Round Tables Critique Sessions begin at 5:15 pm

Terry Sanville and  Mark Arnold will be here to critique your work

Please keep your submission to two pages, typed, 12-point font, double spaced. This is a great—and safe—way to see what the critiquing process is all about, get valuable feedback from two fantastic writers, and practice reading your work to a small audience

This is an opportunity to get feedback on your work in progress and practice your constructive critiquing skills. It is also a great way to get to know other writers in our group. You do not have to bring along work to participate. Please keep submissions to double-spaced, 12 font, two pages.

Please email your submissions to Terry and Mark ahead of time:



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