Division of Interdisciplinary Inquiry: Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Professional Title: M.F.A. Creative Writing Faculty
Areas of Academic Focus and Expertise: Writing for Young People
Representative List of Recent Courses Taught: Distance-Learning Courses:· Creative Writing I-IV · Craft and Reflection I-III· Graduating Seminar Preparation· Creative ThesisResidency Seminars:· Reading as a Writer: Decoding the Illustrated Text· got arc?· Chiarascuro: Darkness and Light in Children's Literature
Education: B.A. in Creative Writing, Brown University
Representative List of Recent Publications / Exhibitions: Children’s Books:The Lemonade Crime (Houghton Mifflin, 2011)Lost (Marshall Cavendish, 2009)Tricking the Tallyman (Random House, 2009)The Lemonade War (Houghton Mifflin, 2007)The House Takes a Vacation (Marshall Cavendish, 2007)The Night Is Singing (Dial, 2005)The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (Houghton Mifflin, 2004)Where the Ground Meets the Sky (Marshall Cavendish, 2002)
Teaching Philosophy: There are two elements to writing: craft and art. Teaching craft is relatively easy and enormously satisfying. A well-delivered lecture on pacing, an engaging seminar discussion of themes and meta-themes, a roundtable focused on character - as a teacher, it's a pleasure to delve into these topics in the classroom and pick them apart until their bones lay exposed on the table for all to see.
But the element of art springs from the individual writer, and so teaching art is a much messier, more involved, and personal undertaking. I try as a teacher to ascertain the artistic needs of each of my students. That means getting to know the emotional, psychological, intellectual being who is creating stories. Making art is essentially about facing fear, and I consider it a primary role of mine to help students understand that connection and push through whatever resistance they face in their art. Witnessing a student at that moment of breakthrough, when resistance is overcome and something truly remarkable emerges, is my greatest satisfaction as a teacher.
I am, first and foremost, a working writer who struggles on a daily basis with the nearly impossible task of translating my flesh and blood onto the clean, white page. I try to bring a sense of comradeship to my teaching. I like the idea that as we travel on our individual paths, our time at Lesley gives us a chance to walk alongside each other for a mile or two. As the famous clown-activist Wavy Gravy once said, ‘We're all bozos on the bus. We might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.'
Awards: The Sydney Taylor Honor Award, finalist for the Jewish National Book Award, The Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, New York Public Library's Best Books, Massachusetts Book Honor Award, Nutmeg Award, Booksense Children's Pick, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice, Junior Library Guild Selection, School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year, BBYA Best Books for Young Adults.
MFA in Creative Writing
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