Michael is the author of The After-Death Room (Soft Skull Press), which is a blend of reportage and memoir that chronicles his travels through parts of Asia, Africa and America reporting on AIDS activism. In the process of his intense travels and reporting, he wrote travel pieces, essays, and journalism that have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Ascent, In These Times, Salon, The Sun, and other literary journals.
After being invited to many colleges and community organizations to give talks about AIDS activism and his reporting, he developed with photographer Tuong Nguyen a performance with slides based on their reporting together on AIDS in Vietnam. Later they also produced a documentary film based on AIDS in Vietnam, and Southeast Asia, which was shown at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006.For his creative work and reporting, he has received several fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, Blue Mountain Center, and Ragdale. For the After-Death Room, he won a Lambda Award, for best spiritual memoir, in 2007.
For over ten years, he has also taught Hatha yoga and meditation, offering workshops both in Chicago and in various parts of the world to communities affected by HIV and AIDS as well as for writers, creative writing students, therapists, teachers and the incarcerated.
He teaches creative nonfiction, journalism, and literature at Columbia College (Chicago) and Northwestern University, where he also is a lecturer in the MFA program in Creative Writing. His current work explores the affect of walking/hiking on our awareness of the independency of human and public health to that of the health of the landscapes we inhabit. In his current blend of memoir and reportage, he reflects on a simple walk he took from his own apartment in Chicago's northern-most neighborhood, through urban parks and industrial Indiana to reach one of the National Park Service's most heavily used parks, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. In this walk, he advocates for the benefits of walking but also the importance of access for people to urban parks like the Dunes that can bridge landscapes and communities, while offering people in cities of all classes refuge, recreation and environmental education. He writes a blog about walking and its public health benefits www.foot patterns.blogpsot.com.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO HUMANS & NATURE:
Articles in Minding Nature:
City Creatures Blog Posts:
- The Last Village by the Lake
- Walking Out
- The Red-winged Knows: Rewilding on a Chicago Shore
- In the Heat of the City: Remembering Eugene Williams