Dueling Advice on Writing

This is the first semester in a long time that I’ve taught two writing classes at the same time. I have an introductory multi-genre Creative Writing class and an upper-level Poetry Writing Workshop on the same day. It might get a little schizophrenic.

Today I was teaching Image to the Creative Writing class, but will be talking about Authenticity to my Poetry class. One of the poets we’re reading talks about getting over the advice to use concrete imagery. In her writing, being authentic to herself and her voice meant becoming liberated to write about thought. Another poet describes how she was persuaded by a professor to incorporate more “authentic” ethnic images in her early poem, which then made the poem less authentic to her experience.

I often find that the best advice about writing is wrong. That is, it isn’t right all the time or for all people. I like having textbooks I can agree with and disagree with at the same time, trying to get students to see that there may not be one right answer, there may even be conflicting answers, but there is an answer that is right for them at that time.

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