Remembering Michael Burgess

Each Labor Day weekend I remember Michael Burgess, who died September 5, 2010. A freelance writer and columnist, author of five published books and co-founder of the Tolovana Arts Colony, Mike was also my writing teacher at Tillamook Bay Community College. He was a fine teacher who wrote thoughtful, encouraging comments on students’ papers.
At the end of each class–more like a workshop in which we shared our writing and received helpful feedback–Mike proposed an exercise. “Not an assignment,” he would say with a devilish grin, “but an exercise.” The last summer of his life, he suggested we write about joy: “What is it? How does it differ from happiness?” I felt certain he was thinking back over his own life.
Through helpful comments, careful editing and exercises, Mike encouraged us to be the best writers and human beings we could be. I will not forget him.
Phyllis Mannan