Any writing teacher worth a damn knows this is true: the best writing teachers write themselves. I don't know if I picked that up from Donald Murray, Ken Macrorie, Tom Romano, or someone else. But it's absolutely essential.
So here's some of what I've written over the years. You will find a mixture of poetry, non fiction, creative non-fiction, fiction, and - sometimes - all of them woven together into one piece.
This is my thesis, a multi-genre, creative nonfiction memoir of my grandmother, Myrtle Baril.
This is a poem for my wife. She is worthy of a poem every day of my life. If I could only come up with one for every day!
I often write right along with my classes. This is an exploratory essay I wrote for my College Comp II class.
This was published in the anthology "What Teaching Means." I initially wrote it during my first year of teaching (1998). Then I revisited it and reworked it during graduate school (2001-2). Finally, I submitted it in 2011.
A poem I wrote about my mother. I read it at her wake.
Here is the final professional piece I wrote for the RRVWP. It borrows the research elements on creative nonfiction and braided essays from my thesis. This illustrated to me the importance of my writing, especially on my blog.
I blogged a lot about my father's cancer and his death. When it came time to write this piece, I searched my blog and was amazed at all that I had written. Furthermore, I was astounded to read all of the little memories and perceptions that I had forgotten. Luckily, I had them written down and preserved.
Writing teachers must write. Actually, we all must write.
I wrote this for the one and only time I taught Creative Writing at LHS (2003). It's not perfect, but it's a hell of a way to spend an evening. I've revised it over the years, and it keeps getting bloodier.
I wrote this about the importance of the exploratory nature of personal writing that can lead to revelation.
This was published in the spring of 2002 as part of a university press at BSU. I had written the core of this years early for my final piece in Will Weaver's creative writing class.
It was fun to bring it to fruition and read it to the faculty at BSU.
I wrote this in response the Kaffir Boy controversy at our school. Man, I'm glad those days are behind us. Whether the text remains or not, I still stand behind every word in this editorial.
I wrote this about the funniest story I have to tell. It brought tears to my professor's eyes since he was laughing so hard when I read it during our summer Advanced Creative Nonfiction class (which had to be in the top three classes I've ever taken).
I found this and don't remember writing about it. But I think I quickly jotted down these ideas as I finished my leave of absence to graduate school.
I submitted this to a local poetry contest. It didn't place (luckily, another poem I submitted won first place, though). But I still think this is the stronger piece. I wrote this one Saturday morning while attending the first graduate summer course session at BSU in 2002. Then I reworked it when I was part of the RRVWP in 2004.
This I often use in class for an example of an epiphany. This is about my high school English teacher, Amy Christianson. She was only at Lafayette for one year (my 9th grade year). But she worked her magic on me and not only made me love writing but, more importantly, made me feel good about myself as a writer and student.
The pivotal moment in my high school life. I wouldn't be an English teacher without this moment.
I wrote this about the night I learned my mother was going to die.
In Susan Hauser's Advanced Writing class we had to devise the longest sentence we could as a lesson in style. This is what I came up with. Susan gave me an ovation when I finished reading it. I had a blast with this.
This was published in the anthology "Getting it in Writing." It illustrates my deep-seated hatred of only teaching the thesis/support form of writing.
This was written for either Carol Ann Russell's or Susan Hauser's class. The object was to write a story (and this one is loosely based on my grandmother's life) that ended with these words, "And then she closed the window."
My biggest regret is that the title comes from a Nickelback song. What was I thinking?
One of my all time favorite pieces. I wrote this for no particular reason during graduate school. I just found myself in my office every evening (I really had nothing else to do) in front of the computer. And this just came right out of me.
I set this in Dad's coffin at his funeral.
I wrote this for the summer Advanced Creative Nonfiction class. I didn't really realize it at the time, but I was writing a multi-genre paper.
I was just trying to be creative and the poetic elements just kind of crept right into it.
This was a breakthrough for me. I wrote this as an 'extra' piece to a final paper for my intro to graduate writing course at BSU. The original research piece is me bashing the five paragraph, thesis/support style of writing. Instead of teaching that style of writing, I argued teachers should advocate an exploratory style of writing. After I finished that paper, I thought I'd illustrate the power of exploratory writing by writing an exploratory essay about how much I hate the thesis/support format (or at least the exclusive teacher of that style). I didi t for fun and never thought of turning it in with my paper.
As luck would have it, I gave it to another professor with whom I was team teaching a class. He loved it and said I should submit it right along with my research paper.
So I did. And my professor loved it! He said one of his favorite things is when the style of writing can mimic the subject matter.
Another essay that I wrote one evening holed up in my office for no good reason. It just came out. But now that my father is gone, I'm so glad I have this pieces to read and think about. It's the closest thing to time travel that we have.