I have been teaching creative writing at AUP since 2007 after teaching for the Master of Fine Arts program at Goddard College and serving a number of years as a tenured professor at the University of New Haven. I made the decision to move permanently to Paris to join my family and focus on writing. However, a very pleasant surprise has been that the most productive period of my career came during my three years of teaching at AUP. In this period, I published a collection of poetry, Beautiful Monsters, and a personalized nature book, Water From Stone. A memoir/nature book, The Golden Bristled Boar, is being co-published as a trade book in the US and Britain within a few months. While my poetry and essays appear frequently in periodicals, I have begun also to publish short stories.
I am convinced that a good deal of my own production has come directly through my interaction with the talented students at AUP and my accomplished and challenging colleagues. I have deliberately been trying out myself a number of the assignments that I’ve given my students, and my colleagues have encouraged certain writing projects as well. So by practicing what I preach or trying the medicine I prescribe (to use some well-worn clichés), I have found a mutually enriching dynamic with my students.
Originally, I honed my skills as a poet, gaining a sense of the distillation of language, its rhythms, and the use of tropes and schemes. Then, I discovered the pleasure of writing imaginative prose a decade ago and my background as poet undoubtedly affects my prose style with a sense of economy and lyricism. In any case, because I write and publish in three genres—poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, I have flexibility as a creative writing teacher and can provide hybrid courses. At AUP, I have been teaching introductory poetry writing courses, but more recently fiction techniques for both short stories and personal essays. In the Spring 2011, I will be teaching a more advanced topic-based course called Writing Paris: a Cross-Genre Workshop. In the future, AUP will be offering more of these unique courses that may focus on subject such as nature, eroticism, art, or travel. I also had the pleasure of working on a graduate-level directed study called “Communicating History through Creative Writing.” And I am currently helping with a study that includes a hilarious musical written by an ambitious Comparative Literature major. Finally, I’ve been trying to help get the AUP Writers’ Association underway. AUPWA, a student organization, exists for the growth and development of creative writers of all types at the American University of Paris.
Besides the books mentioned above, I am the author of three other collections of poetry and the memoir French Spirits, which appeared in eight countries. My work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and Humanities Texas, and I received the Randall Jarrell Award, the “Discovery”/ The Nation Award, and the Samuel French Morse Prize. My writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, Ploughshares, American Scholar, and many other periodicals. I am a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (M.F.A.) and the University of Houston (Ph.D.).