Teaching Philosophy Statement.
In teaching, I think often about the poet’s role in today’s world. Poetry is an anomaly in many ways, at once terribly unfashionable and terrifically cool. It has no power and tremendous power. Hold a poem up to a popular film and the flame dampens quickly in the wind for most of the populous. But to those of us who still find poetry enlivening and dangerous, the challenge and thrill is in dealing with two congruous impulses: witnessing the “big stuff” of our era and simultaneously illuminating the mundane, a task where I find great pleasure. What a crucial role this is, the need becoming more pronounced in light of our country’s split landscape. I believe, as many predict, poetry and art will be very important during our next four years as an informative place of refuge, questioning, connection, dissonance, spirit and resistance.
A special lens I bring to the work is a deep investment in literary citizenship, connecting writers to community, teaching the art of facilitation and co-creation, and discovering the many ways poetry and expression interacts with non-academic settings. In this vein, I also value stepping out of the silos of strict creative identity, and into an environment of encouraged experimentation. It is this elasticity that allows us to locate our greatest contributions, and leans on a vision of an intersectional, multi-voiced society. I consider poetry and artistic expression to be a place that can and should complicate the tremendous conundrum of humanity, and address the serious issues we are facing as a society through a conscious engagement with our complex world. We are to be both the mirror that reflects and the mirror that fractures. We are offering different entry points, openings, and portals to the conversations of our time.
My approach to teaching is craft-centric, but also deeply considers the world around us, and our relationship to it. In each endeavor, beyond the common goals prescribed by the particular teaching placement, it is important to note my practice infuses the pedagogy of three key areas:
1. Critical Assessment and Inquiry, where students deeply question history, media, literature, representation and society. A non-prescriptive approach honors and cultivates students natural curiosity and sparks an interest in developing informed, independent and expressed opinions about relevant world conversations and issues — and creativity’s relationship to our everyday human experience.
2. Self Awareness and Personal Development, in which students consider their own behavior and actions in relationship to societal norms, examine interactions with peers and loved ones, dissect identity and pursue a future based on passion and growth. How can writing bring us into a more complex, nuanced and layered understanding of self and others? How can we best exercise our findings towards our sense of and execution of purpose? How does the act of critique inform our writing, but also our personhood?
3. Local and Global Community Engagement invites students to place themselves in a larger narrative, defining interconnection and examining positive difference, ultimately identifying and implementing their own contributions to the page, the classroom community and beyond.
It is a core belief of mine that creative expression is a profound necessity. To support writers is to encourage the very aliveness of our world. I am interested in walking with writers and artists on their journey towards expanding their library of traditional and contemporary artists and writers, to deepen and sharpen their craft, and to envision the many ways to be a writer/creator. While guiding students through workshopping, readings and publication, I feel a simultaneous call to also nurture their craft as a meaningful conversation with humanity. With the proliferation of MFA programs, it feels especially important to urge students towards a personal definition of the artist and writer’s role in society, and the development of distinct voices that forge uncharted creative paths.