Division of Interdisciplinary Inquiry: Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Thomas Sayers Ellis
Professional Title: M.F.A. Creative Writing Faculty
Areas of Academic Focus and Expertise: Poetry
Representative List of Recent Courses Taught: Distance-Learning Courses:· Creative Writing I-IV · Craft and Reflection I-III· Graduating Seminar Preparation· Creative ThesisResidency Seminars:· Seeing Many Possibilities: Types of Imagery· Fragments of Subjectivity: The Widescreen Matrimony of Poetry and Prose Diction
Education: M.F.A.,Brown University; Harvard University/Extension, major concentration of Literature, emphasis on Film and Creative Writing
Representative List of Recent Publications / Exhibitions: Books of Poetry: Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (2010)The Maverick Room (2005)Song On (2005)The Genuine Negro Hero (2001)Books:Breakfast & Blackfist: Notes for Black Poets (forthcoming, University of Michigan Press)
Teaching Philosophy: I like to find out who each student is, what books are in them, what their writing strengths and weaknesses are, what their "aesthetic ceilings" are. I like to shake things up, to roam percussively through their safe zones and their house styles, if any. Teaching is an exchange, a two-way internal and external stretching. Courage and surrender in service of Care are expected. The workshop, near or distance, must exceed the Socratic operating table; it must live in the creative process, continually, pre every poem.
I am interested in many forms of literacy; not just writing and reading, but the common denominator in all of them - "nuance," the unexplainable poetic essence. I love most forms of art, especially photography, and cinema and sound. My favorite film is Les Enfant du Paradis; my favorite photography is still being taken, the long exposure between the last stanzas in the universe; and my favorite poem is always the one that is working on me. I live to make a draft live, to escape its own, usually linear, life.
Teaching has never felt like struggle; mostly it is love.
Awards: 2005 winner of a Whiting Award in poetry;Two Individual Artists Fellowships, Ohio Arts Center; Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship.
Current affiliation: Professor of Creative Writing, Sarah Lawrence College. Coeditor of On the Verge: Emerging Poets and Artists
Past affiliations: Associate Professor of English, Case Western Reserve University; Core Faculty, The Bennington Writing Seminars.
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