Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘Writers on teaching’

Shop Talk |

Under the Influence… of Sands Hall

Immersed in a 9-to-5, year-round office job since early 2007, I haven’t led a fiction workshop for some time. But if I should inhabit that particular teaching role again, I’d want to remind myself how the job is best done. Ideally, I’d do that by sitting in on one of Sands Hall’s workshops. I met Sands when I enrolled in her “Tools of the Writer’s Craft: Novel” workshop at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in 1997. I subsequently returned to Iowa to take other workshops of hers. We’ve stayed in touch, and I’m proud to say that we’re friends. In […]


Shop Talk |

Tastes Like Poetry

People tell me that I am a poetic writer. My response to this characterization varies from Thanks! to What does that mean? to Yes, my novel did sell like poetry to I want people to love my work in the way that poetry lovers love poetry, desperately and a bit dangerously, gripping the pistol under the pillow with one hand and the childhood stuffed rabbit with the other. But what, really, does this cross-genre accusation imply?  It’s meant as praise (I’m fairly certain), but wary praise, as if I’ve stumbled into a neighbor’s backyard party, where I’m welcome as long […]


Shop Talk |

Under the Influence… of Fred Chappell

North Carolina’s esteemed novelist, short story writer, teacher, and former poet laureate Fred Chappell came along at a critical moment in my writing life: when I was starting to hear voices. Trained as a journalist but always identifying as a writer, I resumed a childhood poetry habit after it had been on hiatus during college. I began writing short stories as well in the early ’80s, and then started a novel. As I began to take myself (semi)-seriously as a writer, I started to attend conferences and workshops. That’s when the voices began. Don’t mix genres, the experts warned. Decide […]


Shop Talk |

Under the Influence… of Stanley Plumly

When I was an MFA student at the University of Maryland, Stanley Plumly said two things about my poetry that have stuck with me and shaped not only how I think about my writing process but also how I approach teaching creative writing. In one conference, he asked, Will you ever write a ten-syllable line? Stanley Plumly is fond of John Keats’s work, so maybe he did want me to write in ten-syllable lines, but the question was designed to force to me think about formal choices I was making. My initial, silent response was that I was experimenting with […]


Shop Talk |

A Brief History of an Ongoing Series: a guest post by Peter Turchi

Editor’s note: As part of our focus on teaching this month, we’re delighted to present this guest post by Peter Turchi. Nearly twenty years ago, when I became director of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, I moved into a small office that had been left neat and nearly empty by the previous director. Most of what he left behind were helpful files and books, but under the desk there was also a cardboard box filled with miscellaneous manuscripts, some stapled, some paper clipped, some typed, some covered with handwritten notes and corrections. Months passed before I asked […]




Literary Partners