Friday, February 22, 2008

The Morning Reading: Poets and Writers

The new issue of Poets and Writers is on the stands (and on the web) and it features an interview with Tobias Wolff -print edition only - go buy it! (Pictured left is last summer's issue with Carol-Muske Dukes on the over).

Other goodies are inside, including this essay by Dan Barden, "Workshop: A Rant Against Creative Writing Classes" which begins like this:


“Hey, can you really teach creative writing?” It’s a question that’s nearly bathetic in its longing for a simpler world, in which there was such a thing as talent and genius and wastebaskets full of crumpled pages. As silly and discredited as this question seems to be (considering there are over three hundred creative writing programs in the United States and more popping up each year), it persists, in one form or another, hidden in our conversations about literature like asbestos is hidden in the walls of our homes—too expensive to remove, so we deny its existence.

And yet, for those of us who actually teach writing, and therefore must regard ourselves as mythical creatures, like leprechauns or dragons, this question is a Superfund site waiting to be discovered every day of our working lives. The notion of writing as some inborn skill, like double-jointedness or the ability to guess the number of pennies in a cracker barrel, is at the heart of many difficult questions I face every day. Why don’t any of my students write second drafts? Why do I increasingly feel like my own skills are not only misunderstood but invisible? Why are my classes packed with students who wouldn’t know the proper use of a comma if one invited them upstairs and started playing Frank Sinatra albums to them? Students seem to think that there’s nothing for them to learn about creative writing. And yet, here I am, both leprechaun and dragon, teaching it.

The root of the problem—and I want to put this as glibly as possible because it’s a glib problem—is that the way we teach creative writing, in my experience, suggests that there is no way to teach creative writing...

Click here for the rest.


Special Needs Mama said...

Can NOT wait to read this one. Ouch.

Rebel Girl said...

Ouch is right. Barden approached me about being interviewed for this piece but I wasn't up to it.

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