I've taught creative writing at the College of William & Mary, Oberlin College, Portland Community College, the Writers in the Schools Program in Portland, Stanford University, and the University of Iowa, and next up I'll be teaching undergraduates and MFA students at beautiful Northern Arizona University. Some recent and upcoming courses:
Intro to Creative Writing
An exploration of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and their trans-genre interstices. Readings for spring 2017 included Citizen by Claudia Rankine, fiction from The Best American Short Stories 2016, and poems by Cathy Park Hong, Terrance Hayes, Wallace Stevens, Evie Shockley, Tyehimba Jess, Frank O'Hara, Layli Long Soldier, Ari Banias, Danez Smith, and others.
A 300-level course that focuses on the fundamentals via a multiplicity of lenses and forms. Readings recent students have cited as favorites: "The Flower" by Louise Erdrich, "Orientation" by Daniel Orozco, "Sorry Doesn't Sweeten Her Tea" by Helen Oyeyemi, "Stone Animals" and "The Lesson" by Kelly Link, "Sportsman" and "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried" by Amy Hempel, "North Country" by Roxane Gay, "Begin with an Outline" by Kaui Hart Hemmings, "Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying" by Alice Sola Kim, and "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" by Sherman Alexie.
Writing the Novel/la
Students each write a single sustained work of fiction of 15,000-30,000 words (though some go longer--the record so far for a completed project is 46,000.) Readings in spring 2017: Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang, Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, "Gloss..." from Counternarratives by John Keene, and "The Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang. Lately this has been one of my favorite courses to teach--the novella is such an adventurous and flexible form, and turning in 1500+ words per week, no matter how rough and raw, proves to be a transformative practice for the students.
A course in narrative nonfiction, particularly literary longform nonfiction suited to magazine and journal publication. The recent students' favorites: "Girl" by Alexander Chee, "Blacker Than Thou" by Kevin Young, "They Pretend to Be Us While Pretending We Don't Exist" by Jenny Zhang, "Immortal Horizon" and "Fog Count" by Leslie Jamison, "To Scratch, Claw, or Grope, Frantically or Clumsily" by Roxane Gay, "Netherland" by Rachel Aviv, "Trouble in Lakewood" by Joan Didion, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" by Gay Talese (and the annotated version!), and "The Really Big One" by Kathryn Schulz (plus her discussion of it on the Longform podcast). My fall 2016 class selected and edited some of their criticism, personal essays, and narrative journalism to create a single-edition online magazine, which they named The Loose Brick. The fall 2017 course’s edition: The Attendance Question.
A deceptively staid title for a freewheeling exploration of nonfiction: memoir, the lyric essay, the meditation, autotheory, hybrid forms. Readings include Hilton Als, James Baldwin, Roland Barthes, Jo Ann Beard, Eula Biss, Brian Blanchfield, Edwidge Danticat, Kiese Laymon, Yiyun Li, Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine, Matthew Salesses, Luc Sante, Zadie Smith, David Treuer, and Dubravka Ugresic, among others.
Advanced Nonfiction Workshop
A workshop in writing the permutations and cross-pollinations of speculative, fabulist, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy fiction. Readings include Jorge Luis Borges, Octavia Butler, Dan Chaon, Ted Chiang, Cathy Park Hong, Nalo Hopkinson, Jonathan Lethem, Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, and David Mitchell, among others.
Beyond Genre: Writing Fabulist Fiction
A course for more experienced student writers committed to a deep and fearless exploration of fiction—reading it, writing it, taking it apart, constructing it anew. The main emphases are heightened attention to language, right down to the sentence level; pushing the stories into deeper, more surprising territory; and learning to research for fiction. Students also read multiple stories from selected authors to better understand how a writer develops a sensibility and style. Readings have included Sherman Alexie, Anton Chekhov, Flannery O'Connor, ZZ Packer, Justin Torres, David Foster Wallace, and others.