Jeffrey Overstreet 2013, by Tineke Smith

Bio

Recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, and Christianity Today for his writing on cinema, Jeffrey Overstreet is a novelist, a writer on the arts, and a teacher of creative writing, film studies, and arts engagement. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. Random House’s WaterBrook Press has published four of his novels including Auralia’s Colors. His “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly —  which has become a popular textbook in classes on film, faith, and artistic engagement, is available from Baker Books. His books are available in several languages, including French, German, and Dutch.

Overstreet became an award-winning film reviewer during a decade of writing for Christianity Today. He has taught creative writing courses at writers’ conferences and retreats; and he has served as Writer-in-Residence, teaching fiction, at Covenant College in Georgia. For 12 years he has worked as a Communications Specialist at Seattle Pacific University, where he also serves as the contributing editor of Response magazine. He is an international public speaker and a blogger. He is a member of the Chrysostom Society. And he’s celebrating 19 years of marriage to the poet Anne M. Doe Overstreet, author of Delicate Machinery Suspended and founder of Spine-Line Editing.

Jeffrey is earnestly seeking good opportunities to teach about international cinema and about creative writing.

Read a fuller narrative of Jeffrey Overstreet’s work and background here.

Disclaimer: 

Most guides to designing a proper author website emphasize the importance of a Press Page.

But self-promotion makes me squeamish: I don’t do this for attention or for bragging rights. I do this work at Looking Closer to equip people to appreciate what other people have done, and to be responsible for the contributions of others toward my own creative work.

So, as I offer these personal details and these generous words from others, please note that nothing I do — indeed, nothing I am — would be possible without a collaborative effort of family, friends, and colleagues. I share this page with a deep sense of gratitude.

Jeffrey Overstreet at Third Place Books, by Fritz LiedtkeEndorsements & Praise

Matt Zoller Seitz — editor of RogerEbert.com, author of The Wes Anderson Collection, founder of the film review websites The House Next Door and Press Play (at indieWire), and television critic for New York Magazine — on Overstreet’s film writing:

Jeffrey is … one of my favorite film critics. He writes with great lucidity and compassion about all sorts of movies, from all sorts of angles, but what I value most about his work is the theological-moral perspective he takes on things. He’s not a dogmatic scold, sifting through popular art looking for work that fits a rigid world view; he’s more interested in Looking Closer, as his blog title suggests, to discover what, if anything, the work is saying.

Eugene Peterson — author of The Message, The Pastor, and Eat This Book — on Overstreet’s moviegoing memoir Through a Screen Darkly:

Jeffrey Overstreet is a witness. While habituating the dark caves of movie theaters, he gives articulate witness to what I too often miss in those caves — the contours of God’s creation and the language of Christ’s salvation. … I find him a delightful and most percipient companion — a faithful Christian witness.

My MFA graduation reading. Photo by Bob Denst.

My MFA graduation reading. Photo by Bob Denst.

Publisher’s Weekly on Auralia’s Colors:

Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told.

Gina Ochsner — author of The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight — on Auralia’s Colors:

In Auralia’s Colors, Overstreet masterfully extends the borders of imagination.

Dick Staub, author of The Culturally Savvy Christian — on Through a Screen Darkly:

… [T]he spirit of the Inklings is alive and well and at least one living writer could have held his own at their table!

Image journal on Overstreet’s work:

Jeffrey Overstreet is a trespasser. He’s constantly moving outside of the borders of what church and culture deem to be ironclad, eternal categories (sacred vs. profane, high culture vs. popular culture) — and he has a knack for bringing people along with him. His passport? The imagination. In his writing on film, he has used the mighty megaphone of Christianity Today to challenge its readers to take a more mature, holistic approach to film. His film criticism doesn’t count swear words or anatomical parts; rather, it speaks of beauty, paradox, and what it means to be human. Overstreet has pursued this vocation with such integrity and forcefulness that the secular media have picked up on it — precisely because he dares to trespass against the arbitrary categories of what is deemed ‘religious’ and what is considered ‘public.’ He brings this spirit of freedom to all that he does, from his many illuminating posts on various online message boards to his writing for Seattle Pacific University’s publications to his newest venture: fantasy novels. Even there he’s crossing boundaries, bringing a more literary sensibility to a genre that’s often mere swords and sorcery. When you trespass with Jeffrey Overstreet, you don’t have to ask for forgiveness.

Scott Derrickson — writer and director, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister — on Through a Screen Darkly:

Jeffrey Overstreet is a spiritual bloodhound, rabidly tracking the voice of God through his own experience of the history of cinema. In Through a Screen Darkly, he leads the way for all of us, demonstrating how we can look closer and experience the divine invasion of film for ourselves.

Darren Aronofsky — director of Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain — in a message to the author about Through a Screen Darkly (shared with permission):

Inspirational…. Sometimes all of us forget that love for movies, that internal spark inside us that movies lit, and your book is going to remind many of us about it.

I served as writer-in-residence, spoke, and taught at Covenant College in 2013.

I served as writer-in-residence, spoke, and taught at Covenant College in 2013.

Steven D. Greydanus — film critic for Christianity Today, Crux, and The National Catholic Register — on Through a Screen Darkly:

[Overstreet] doesn’t just tell you whether or not he liked a movie. He offers you a seat next to him as the movie unfolds and he points out and reflects on the things that thrill, fascinate or trouble him. It’s an invitation not only to look more closely, but to ponder more deeply and appreciate more fully.

Gregory Wolfe —  publisher and editor of Image; author of Beauty Will Save the World and Intruding Upon the Timeless: Meditations on Art, Faith and Mystery — on Through a Screen Darkly:

Through a Screen Darkly constitutes a milestone in Christian reflection about contemporary film. This is not simply because it is full of insightful analysis and a generous, open spirit, but because its vision grows out of a passionate, personal journey. This is film criticism with a soul and a sense of urgency growing out of the conviction that faith and the imagination need one another — the better to open our eyes to the flickerings of God’s grace.

Robert Clark — Edgar-Award-Winning Author of Mr. White’s Confession and Washington Book Award-Winning Author of Dark Water — on Through a Screen Darkly:

In this beautiful and incisive meditation on the art of film — at once memoir, manifesto and critical guide — Jeffrey Overstreet teaches us not only why film should matter to people of faith but how to see movies as vehicles for inspiration and, indeed, grace.

Brett McCracken — writer and reviewer for Relevant Magazine and Christianity Today — on Through a Screen Darkly:

If you propose in academic or professional film circles the notion of ‘Christian film criticism’ as a serious discipline … you will probably be laughed off. Thankfully, we are taking steps to change that. A significant step in the right direction has come with the brand new book by Jeffrey Overstreet, Through a Screen Darkly…. Overstreet … has taken it upon himself to free Christian arts journalism from the ghetto and shackles of narrow-mindedness, utilitarianism and aesthetic ambivalence (as well as the flipside — aesthetic gluttony). His new book … gives hope to all of us who struggle for a more thoughtful, measured and empathetic Christian perspective toward cinema.

Dr. David Frisbie — writer at the award-winning Armchair Interviews site — on Through a Screen Darkly:

Scarcely a few decades ago, the phrase ‘Christian movie reviewer’ might have seemed an oxymoron: entire denominations and churches shunned the theatre, believing it to be evil per se. Overstreet is a much-needed voice that helps postmodern Christians and others be fully engaged with their culture, yet move beyond its limitations to produce high-quality films.

Mark Moring — former editor of ChristianityTodayMovies.com — on Through a Screen Darkly:

Jeffrey Overstreet has taught me a great deal not just about how to watch movies, but also how to glean truth, beauty and redemption from films of all types — even those that aren’t necessarily comfortable to watch. I am learning the art of looking closer, and this book takes that art — and that education — to even deeper, and thus more rewarding, levels.

Matthew Dickerson — co-author of From Homer to Harry Potter: a Handbook of Myth and Fantasy and Ents, Elves, and Eriador: the Environmental Vision of J.R.R.Tolkien — on Auralia’s Colors:

In this new fantasy novel Auralia’s Colors, Jeffrey Overstreet weaves together a wide cast of compelling characters and an intriguing story in the setting of a world both imaginative and arresting–a world phantastic in both old and new meanings of that word.  Readers will care what happens both to the characters of the tale (all of them) as well as to the realm of Abascar itself, and will not want to put this book down.

Mark Shea — Senior Content Editor, CatholicExchange.com — on Through a Screen Darkly:

God the Maker made us to be makers as well. That is why, as Chesterton said, ‘Art is the signature of man.’ Filmmaking is an art form that is the unique invention of the twentieth century. Nothing quite like it had ever existed before, and through it, millions have had powerful, even profoundly spiritual, experiences. Jeffrey Overstreet is a guide eminently qualified to show us how to see the way in which films both illumine the terrain of the human spirit and probe the eternal mysteries of God.

Janet Lee Carey — award-winning author of The Beast of Noor and Dragon’s Keep — on Auralia’s Colors 

Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia’s Colors sparkles.

Marly Youmans, — author of Glimmerglass, Ingledove, and The Curse of the Raven Mocker — on Auralia’s Colors:

Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.

John Wilson — editor of Books & Culture — on Auralia’s Colors:

The late John Gardner said that a good story should unfold like a vivid and continuous dream. With Auralia’s Colors, Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted just such a story, one that will leave readers ready to dream with him again.

Kathy Tyers — author of the Firebird trilogy and Shivering World — on Auralia’s Colors:

Jeffrey Overstreet weaves myth and reality, hope and loss into his tapestry, and he ties off The Red Strand with a cataclysmic flourish.

Clint Kelly — author of the Sensations Series: Scent, Echo, and Delicacy — on Auralia’s Colors

Welcome to the land of the fangbear, the muckmoth, and the Midnight Swindler. To a story brimming with lovely literary rewards and a cast of characters by turn loathsome and hilarious, winsome and mysterious. It’s not often one gets to be present at the birth of a classic, but Auralia’s Colors is that kind of storytelling. A true delight on so many levels.

Interviews with Overstreet

Like traffic slowing down so people can see an accident, some people have taken the time to interview me. Here are links to a few of those memorable conversations:

Press Photos 

Here are some high-resolution images of my book covers, blog logo, and a variety of author photos by photographers Fritz Liedtke, Matthew Sumi, and Tineke Smith.

Looking Closer, design by Carl-Eric TangenAuralia's Colors, First PrintingAuralia's Colors, 2ndPrinting

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