Questions

Faculty and Alumni Work-in-Progress:  What are some of the challenges you’re facing in producing new work?  How do you feel your writing has grown since your early published work?  What are some literary influences on the projects you are working on now? To what extent do you feel that literary influences help drive your writing? To what extent do they get in the way? In what ways might “stealing” from past influences enhance the literary value of your work? When might such “stealing” be seen as pastiche, or worse, plagiarism?

The Teaching of Creative Writing:  What informs your teaching philosophy?  Can you talk about some successes and some failures you have experienced in the creative writing classroom? What strategies do you prefer and why?  What do you think about the perennial question, “Can writing be taught?”  Would you teach if you didn’t have to in order to make a living?

The Reading Life:  What pieces of writing changed your life or your style?  In what ways? Auden once said that poetry (and by extension literature) makes nothing happen—changes nothing. Do you agree? Why or why not?  For your own work, who is your “ideal reader?”  In what ways do you think about your audience while you’re writing?

Writing and Politics:  To what extent is literature inherently political, presenting the reader with a political or social agenda that the writer seems to advocate? Is it possible for literature to be apolitical? Is there a point of declining returns (in terms of literary worth) when a writer works within a political (or religious, or social) world view? At what point does a political point of view—or an assumed set of beliefs on the part of the writer—undermine the literary value of a writer’s work? In what ways can good writing transcend the political/social assumptions that inform it?  Or does good writing, by definition, give literary life to the political/social assumptions that inform it? 

Writing and Publication: Given the new technological platforms for making writing public, how has the fundamental definition of publication changed?  Is self-publication a legitimate mode of publication?  To what extent does a market for literature (or the lack of one) drive good writing or undermine it? In what ways might fame or market value enhance a writer’s ability to make good art? In what ways undermine it?