Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Creative Writing Advisor extraordinaire

So advising has begun and I've been tapped as the guru. Beware.

Mostly, I just tap a few keys on a keyboard and tell students what classes to take so they can graduate. It's not so bad. I actually enjoy the job--it satisfies my organizational itch.

Discovered a really good handbook for students. It's by Tom Kealey. I like the tone and I like the simplicity of the organization. He lists a few programs--mostly the ones picked by the US News way back in the mid 90's, but he's fair about it, acknowledging the limitations of the guide. It's a decent tool to supplement the more statistical AWP guide.

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Also, been sending out postcards for my book. Want one?

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Finally, school's just around the corner and I've been working on a syllabus for a multi-genre class topics class. Have you ever taught one? How did you conduct your workshop if you have? In the past, I segregated the semester according to genre (poetry first, then fiction, then playwriting). But I'm not sure such a format would work for this particular class. Any ideas for workshop alternatives?

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By the way . . . we've remodeled ANOTHER room. Actually, this one was mostly Meredith. I just scrapped the popcorn ceiling and rolled paint on the walls. She did all the decorating and refurbishing of furniture.

12 comments:

barbara jane said...

Re: Postcard, got one. Thanks!

Re: Multigenre workshop, I suck at teaching this. My problem is keeping folks interested when not addressing their chosen genre. I've tried to use work that's generally multigenre itself, and hadn't really been too successful at it.

Oliver de la Paz said...

Yeah, I know. That's always the problem with a multigenre class, which is why I'm looking for alternatives to a standard workshop model. I mean, it's difficult to conduct a workshop when 5 students are fiction writers, 3 are poets, and the rest are non-fiction writers . . .

barbara jane said...

You know, now you got me thinking about maybe instead of having particular genre units, maybe these have to be "theme" based? And then you could have different genre readings on the particular theme?

This kind of goes against my not liking telling students what to write about, but it might work.

Oliver de la Paz said...

Well, it is theme-based: The Historical Collection. We'll be looking at books that delve into some type of research . . . models for the process, if you will. That still poses the problem of providing feedback to a disparate group of writers.

jeannine said...

In case you are interested in giving your students more MFA ranking info, Seth Abramson has pretty decent ranking info on his blog (I think it's in an archive, but labelled on his blog)
and the summer Fiction issue of The Atlantic named a bunch of lists: best low-res program, best for blank, best for funding, etc.
I think you'd be a great advisor, by the way!

Oliver de la Paz said...

Thanks Jeannine!

So far, I haven't ruined any lives . . . but we'll see five years down the road.

Justin Evans said...

Your new book is already going to be my September buy, but thanks for offering to send me a post card

Ayse Papatya Bucak said...

The multi-genre textbooks seem to handle this by focusing on the similarities between genres (focus on image, etc). But I think it's interesting to directly ask the poets participating in a fiction workshop to use their expertise in poetry to provide a unique reaction to fiction. To essentially discuss the same things they would in a poetry workshp (sound, line breaks, word choices...whatever else you guys talk about) but look at how those things are working in the fiction. The fiction writers are often good at commenting on structure in workshop poems (not just narrative ones), and we think a lot about sentences (versus individual words) which can be useful too. I say, ask each student to play to his/her strength and then see how those strengths become intergenre (is that a word?).

sejal said...

I like tom kealey's book as well. He was a classmate of mine at UMass Amherst...and has done well with that book--really helpful to students.

when do classes start for you?

Oliver de la Paz said...

What I think I'm going to wind up doing is endorsing hybridity and experimentation, but also prefacing the class by saying something like "Although the texts we're using aren't great models of hybridity, they do speak to the thematic concerns we'll be grappling with this quarter. Also, I intend to supplement our readings with stronger examples."

How's that?

Oliver de la Paz said...

P.S. Sejal, love teaching here at WWU. We don't start until September 26th. The benefit and the curse of the quarter system is it's late starts and late ends.

Carol Guess said...

um, can i still have a postcard?

you can leave it in my box ...

your colleague,
carol