MFA, University of Iowa, 1995
MA, New York University, 1992
BA, Hampshire College, 1988
- Finnish Literature Exchange Fellowship, Helsinki, Finland, 2011
- The Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, 2010-1012
- The Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, Marfa, TX, 2010
- Research Associate, The School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM, 2009-2012
- MacDowell Fellowship, Fall 2007
- Visiting Research Associate, The School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM, 2007-08
- John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 2007
- Lotos Club Foundation Prize, 2004
- The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, 1999
- New Issues Press Poetry Prize, 1999
- Iowa Arts Fellowship, University of Iowa, 1993-95
- Yaddo Fellowship, June 1993
- Academy of American Poets Prize, New York University, 1991
- University Scholarship, New York University, 1989
- Breadloaf Fellowship, August 1987
My philosophy of teaching poetry can be distilled into providing students with an “appropriate response.” The greatest teachers I have had responded specifically to each student's writing without being prescriptive. They were forceful and encouraging in their criticism. They were human and compassionate. When I think of them, I am reminded of Chekhov who said: “that art exists to prepare the soul for tenderness.”
Within the framework of this “appropriate response,” it is my responsibility to help students discover and make their own connections. The history of poetry is a history of new connections. The Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer said it beautifully: “My poems are meeting places. Their intent is to make sudden connections between aspects of reality that conventional languages ordinarily keep apart. Large and small details of the landscape meet, divided cultures and people flow together in a work of art. Nature meets industry, etc. What looks at first like a confrontation turns out to be a connection.”
As a teacher, it is also my responsibility to encourage my students to, as Neruda said: “willfully reject and accept nothing.” I agree with Keats that ‘”the only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing—to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts. Not a select party…” I encourage students to study many disciplines and to read contemporary and ancient texts from around the world.
Finally, I believe writing is about transformation and a poetry writing class ought to be designed to inspire and nurture the unimaginable. Keats's vision of “Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason,” speaks to this ideal. This ability to tolerate uncertainty and to resist narrow, conventional perceptions is a fundamental quality that writers need in order to develop. I believe it allows for marvelous, original writing to occur.
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