Randy Bates

Professor (Nonfiction and Poetry)Randy Bates


Phone: 504-280-6134

Email: rbates1@uno.edu


Area of Specialty: Nonfiction | Poetry

Randy Bates' Rings: On the Life and Family of a Southern Fighter (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) was published to starred reviews in Publishers Weekly (". . . a powerful, moving chronicle of triumph over despair . . . makes readers grasp the socioeconomic conditions that pulverize black dreams and identity.") and Library Journal("...more than a boxing book . . . a vivid and moving portrait of what it means to be black in America.") and described in the New Orleans Times-Picayune as "an odyssey of self-discovery as well as quest for racial comprehension and understanding" and as follows by syndicated reviewer Richard Eder in the Los Angeles Times Book Review: . . . extraordinary book. The effort was made out of a conviction that understanding without involvement is not only incomplete, but can easily become-a white man writing about a black family-exploitation. His book is not a tour but a journey; its end as uncertain as its departure; its passage supremely moving and revealing. . . . The revelations come bit by bit . . . as the story accumulates power without sacrificing complexity. . . . There is much, much more. Rings is a book of quixotic fidelity. It has quixotic wackiness, as well; but, as in the book the adjective comes from, it is wackiness in the service of revelation. It does as much as it possibly can and acknowledges its limits. . . . and in the shortfall lies the book's astonishing achievement. It fails magnificently in suggesting a solution for the story of Collis and his family; it leaves us with an open wound. We will not die from it nor even, probably, amend our lives.

Randy's periodical publications include Grand Street, Ploughshares, TheSouthern ReviewPrairie Schooner, The Pinch, TheBoston Globe, and others. He has been awarded writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Arts Council, and he is the Nonfiction Editor of Bayou Magazine.

His primary teaching areas are workshops and literature courses in nonfiction. He regularly teaches the graduate workshop in nonfiction writing and advanced and introductory nonfiction writing for undergraduates . He occasionally teaches the graduate nonfiction workshop in the low residency program, and in summer of 2009 he taught graduate nonfiction writing in UNO's program abroad in Montpellier, France. He successfully proposed Creative Nonfiction Literature and Introduction to Nonfiction, the latter a literature course for non-majors, which he team-teaches with MFA students in nonfiction, and he has taught graduate and undergraduate courses and directed independent studies in various sub-genres of nonfiction. He also teaches Introduction to Poetry, Major American Writers, and composition courses, including developmental writing.

 Prior to coming to UNO in 1999, Randy taught at Xavier, Harvard, Tulane, Loyola, LSU, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and St. Martin's Episcopal School. He received the English Graduate Faculty Award at UNO in 2008 and was awarded recognition for distinction in teaching in the expository writing program at Harvard.

His current writing projects are Magnolia Amusement Company, nonfiction that concerns his native Mississippi during the civil rights movement, and essays on diverse subjects.

Selected Publications


Rings: On the Life and Family of a Southern Fighter (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux).


Nonfiction in Grand Street, Ploughshares, and Negative Capability.Poetry in the Prairie Schooner, the Southern Review, and the Seattle Review.
Fiction in the Cimarron Review, the New Orleans Review, and POMPA.
Reviews in the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the Times-Picayune.