New Univ. blog offers variety of written perspectives

By Juliet Kelso
Staff Writer

Regardless of whether you are a math major or an English professor, a reclusive bookworm or a chanting sorority fro-yo, everyone at the University writes. Perhaps you haven’t spent your past couple years at the University churning out tomes of poetry and literary criticism, but you have certainly written something. Students are required to fulfill the University’s writing requirements, but it’s more integral than that. We write in this academic setting in order to convey the fruits of our study and to communicate our individual perspectives. In research and learning, we discover interesting truths of our designated fields of study. In writing, we answer the question “So, what?”

In celebration of  the University’s broad and indiscriminate writers’ community, the University launched a new blog titled “Bucknell Writes” late last month. Its mission comprises two main goals: to highlight writers and writing at the University and to share ideas and information that may interest our community. Nearly all of the posts thus far are interviews with student and faculty writers from an array of academic disciplines. All are asked to respond to the same series of questions about their current projects, unique methods and sentiments toward writing. My sampling of choice is one of the few submissions outside of this form. In an interview with G. C. Waldrep (Ph.D., Duke University; MFA, University of Iowa), assistant professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies in English, Waldrep was asked, “How does one teach poetry, and what should a student of poetry hope to learn?” to which he responded: 

“One way to teach poetry is to give students good models. Usually, I start with famous poets such as Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, from which a lot of contemporary poetry takes its cue. The key question I ask is not so much ‘  ‘How does it work?’ or ‘What does it mean?’ as ‘How does it mean?’ I use writing prompts to draw students out of their initial comfort zones. It takes some work to draw out the human experience and craft it into an original work of art.

One prompt I often use in this way is to have each student write a character type and an action on a sheet of paper. Then, I have them rip the paper in half and hand the character to the left and the action to the right. What each student gets is his or her prompt—and they have to write from that. One of the best poems I received from a Bucknell student was from this prompt. The student received ‘Harry Potter’ as the character type and ‘ … cries’ as the action. The poem she wrote was in the voice of Harry Potter, talking back to his creator, J.K. Rowling, asking why she never let him cry in her novels.”

To read more responses to questions about writing, visit “Bucknell Writes” at http://bucknellwrites.blogspot.com.

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