BR&S Spotlight: Meet Steven Hall

Introducing Steven Hall!

photo w EzSteven’s journey with Black Rock & Sage began during the spring 2009 semester when he registered for the Literary Magazine course. This was during his first year as a doctoral student in the English department. In the fall of that year he became the Prose editor for BR&S and the following year he became the editor-in-chief, a position he held for four years. During Dr. Goslee’s sabbatical year he filled in as the faculty advisor for BR&S, which included teaching the Literary Magazine course. All combined, Steven says that working with the magazine was one of the most rewarding experiences he had while completing his degree.

In 2014 he received his Ph.D. and then spent one year as a faculty instructor for the English department. In 2015 he was hired by the Student Success Center to join a new program called First Year Transition. Steven, along with a terrific team of colleagues, works as an instructor/academic coach charged with the task of improving the retention of freshmen at ISU. In order to do so they teach a number of orientation courses and each mentor around 100 freshman at a time. They also operate a summer program for incoming freshmen called Bengal Bridge.

This month we had the opportunity to ask Steven about his favorite places, books, and hobbies-as well as really important subjects, like how speed-reading would be a fantastic superpower. Steven also offers some great, practical advice for aspiring artists and literary magazine editors. 

  1. What three traits define you?

Contemplative. Faithful. Loyal.

  1. What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

My little family.

  1. What is your greatest fear?


  1. Where is your favorite place to be?

My dad’s cattle ranch in southern Oregon (especially during spring or early summer).

  1. What is your favorite thing to do?

Anything that involves spending time with my two children: reading books, taking walks, wrestling, cuddling, jumping, laughing, tickling, hide-and-seek, crawling into forts, and so on.

  1. Where is the best place you have ever visited? Why?

Don’t have just one, but many are memorable: Havasu Falls, Buddhist retreat in the mountains of South Korea, Sullivan Island off South Carolina, Cape Breton Island.

  1. What would be your ideal career?

Small-scale Farmer

  1. What is your favorite book, movie, and band?

I’ve never been fond of the word favorite. But for years I read Thoreau’s Walden about once a year. These days I’m always reading a memoir (Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family is tremendous) or something by Wendell Berry. One-time favorite movies have included Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Mission, and Waking Ned Devine. I’m usually content with “Today’s Hits” channel on Pandora.

  1. What is something that might surprise us about you?

I find too much of contemporary literary culture to be oversaturated with pretention.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

Don’t have a favorite. But here’s a couple for your consideration from Thoreau:

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”

  1. If you could have a dinner party with ANY three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

This sounds like a play written by Steven Martin. I always struggle with hypothetical scenarios, so I’ll just name three dead people I’d like to meet (even if they don’t appear to have much in common): the apostle Paul, Genghis Khan, Vincent van Gogh. What type of restaurant should we go to? Who do you think would pay the bill?

  1. If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Too many good choices. Definitely some kind of comfort food. Let’s say pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy from scratch, peas in cream sauce, my grandma’s homemade bread (still steaming), and cold whole milk.

  1. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?

When I was younger and had longer hair strangers used to always say I looked like Owen Wilson. But I think I’d rather it be one of the men my wife has collected on a Pinterest board titled “Swoon”: Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, or David Beckham.

  1. If you were an animal what would you be?

Tough call. If I went domestic it would probably be a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd. If I go wild then how can you pass up something that flies—like an eagle—or floats effortlessly in the ocean—like a Humpback whale or Sea turtle.

  1. If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?

As humans we need food, water, and shelter to survive. So it seems logical to say one palette of Spam, one palette of bottled water (preferably something fancy, maybe in a glass container), and a pre-fab mini-house (something from 500 to 900 square feet).  I believe in traveling light.

  1. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Speed reading.

  1. What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

Beekeeping, cooking, making jam.

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Growing my small business on a small farm with my small family.

    19. Do you have any favorite literary magazines/publications that you’d like to give a shout out to?

Not really.

  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists and literary magazine editors?

Find a reliable day job.


For new spotlight posts, please visit our blog the second week of every month (but, of course, do come back more often than that!).


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