Celebrating (and Celebritizing) Teaching Creative Writing


Today, Fiction Writers Review is running “Where Are We Going Next? A Conversation about Creative Writing Pedagogy (Pt. 1),” a co-written article by myself, Anna Leahy, and Stephanie Vanderslice. This lively, wide-ranging conversation took place during the summer of 2010 via email exchanges.

I just want to thank FWR for publishing this article. You might be wondering why it appears there and not in, say the AWP Writers Chronicle or a pedagogy journal. Well, the truth is, we did submit it to the Chronicle, but they passed, as is their right, of course. When we got the very kind rejection, we discussed what to do next. Where else do you publish an article about teaching creative writing? (I’ve discussed this problem at some length here.) Since most creative writing teachers don’t (won’t?) read pedagogy journals, we decided to shoot for more mainstream publishing venues. Our first priority was making these ideas “findable” and “share-able.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to make two suggestions that weren’t included in this conversation:

A keynote address on Teaching Creative Writing at the annual AWP conference. I would pay good money to hear anything Charles Baxter or Peter Turchi or Janet Burroway had to say about teaching. Why can’t Good Teachers be “celebritized” at AWP alongside the Good Writers?

More “teaching-creative-writing blogs.” This blog has invigorated my teaching in many wonderful ways, and it’s brought me many new friends. Yes, it takes time, and I know we all struggle to find the time to write, to teach, and to live our lives. In the midst of a busy life, why make time to write about teaching when it doesn’t “count” for tenure and promotion?

Because when you force yourself to articulate what you do and how you do it, your teaching improves.

Because. Teaching. Matters.

CW Programs Teaching Writing


  1. (Hi there, Lowry!)

    Cathy, once upon a time, there was a keynote address (of sorts) from a teacher. I’m not sure how many years the AWP conference included it, but it was part of the Pedagogy Forum. One year (2003?), Susan Perabo gave it.

    But, yes, a teacher-keynoter in a starring role would be great.

  2. A teaching keynote–that would be great–I talk about that a little at the end of my book coming out on Rethinking Creative Writing in Higher Ed. Any of those speakers would be terrific, though I am biased toward Charles Baxter–he takes his work so seriously, it so considered. And he’s so brilliant.

    So, hmmm, if AWP doesn’t pick up the ball on Creative Writing Pedagogy, I say we plan to have a journal up online in a year or so (we can base it at UCA if you want, we have a class of digital media students willing to put it together but the 3 of us would be the editors) and then, eventually, after that, once it’s established, a Creative Writing Pedagogy conference, with such a keynote. I’m planning a conference rignt now for March 11-12 for the writing project, I think I’m getting this conference thing down. I’m going to repaste this part of the conversation in an email to make sure Anna sees it.

    And I’m definitely linking to your post on my blog. Thanks, Cathy.

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