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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Local Author Joe Jackson Named Mina Hohenberg Darden Chair in Creative Writing

By Tom Robinson

Joe Jackson, a well-published Hampton Roads author known for exhaustive reporting and gripping storytelling, has been named to the Mina Hohenberg Darden Chair in Creative Writing at Old Dominion University.

Jackson this fall will replace Blake Bailey, the official biographer of novelist Philip Roth, who has held the prestigious chair for six years.

"Joe Jackson is Hampton Roads' answer to John McPhee and Tracy Kidder, a nonfiction writer with a novelist's grace and the ability to bring plot, character and scene to memorable life," Michael Pearson, the director of the creative writing graduate program, said in announcing Jackson's appointment. "Administrators at Old Dominion have long described the Creative Writing Program as one of the crown jewels of the University. Add the Jackson gem to that crown."

The chair is an endowed English professorship initiated in 1997 as a memorial to Mina Hohenberg Darden by her family and friends. Darden received three master's degrees from Old Dominion and was working toward a master's in fine arts in poetry.

Previous Hohenberg Darden Chairs include the poets Peter Meinke and Michael Blumenthal.

Jackson, a four-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, has written one novel and six nonfiction books, including "The Thief at the End of the World," which was named one of Time magazine's top 10 nonfiction books of 2008, as well as "Leavenworth Train," a finalist for the 2002 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime book.

His latest book, "Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary," about a Native American healer, is due to be published in November by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Jackson is a former investigative reporter for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, where his work resulted in the acquittal of a man wrongly convicted of murder.

Jackson previously was the James Thurber Writer-in-Residence at Ohio State University.