Visiting Writer Series

Kathleen Graber was CWL's visiting writer for the Spring 2016 semester.

Kathleen Graber was CWL’s visiting writer for the Spring 2016 semester.

Creative Writing and Literature students at SFUAD regularly experience academic critique and instruction from peers and faculty, creating an atmosphere which focuses on techniques, craft, and critical response. Each semester, the CWL department also offers perspectives about professional writing life through its Visiting Writer series.

CWL faculty members rotate selection by genre each semester; the visiting reader provides a reading, Q&A and class visits. Previous participants have included Tom Sleigh, Matt Bell, Julie Powell and many more. The pick for this semester was chosen by CWL faculty member Matt Donovan, who invited acclaimed poet Kathleen Graber. Graber’s Feb. 23 reading was unfortunately cancelled due to weather; however it didn’t keep her from visiting CWL classes to talk about craft, technique and life as a writer.

Graber answered questions thoughtfully and eagerly in class as she was asked about process, inspiration and writing history. Coming to poetry late in life with a philosophy major and teaching experience, Graber’s perspective had freshness and utility, shying away from condescension or pedantry. She provided methods of analyzing poetry and encouraged students to “keep the door ajar” for images and dialogue as they are observed in the real world. This real-world perspective  is precisely the series’ mission, according to CWL Chairman James Reich.

“What we look for is somebody that is not only a good teacher who can do class visits, though they don’t have to a be a teacher,” Reich says, “but also somebody who has a really good track record of publication, essentially being a writer in the world. Somebody that can be instructive about…writing but to an extent how to be a writer in the world.” The Fall 2016 visiting writer will be from the nonfiction genre.

Reich goes on to say that another goal of the series is to “demystify” the writing world for young writers. “Writers can often seem very remote. And even the practice of writing itself can seem very much like a separate world, rather than one that can be within this one,” he says. “These are very talented people in their field, but they are still flesh and blood making a living.”