Teaching Philosophy/Michael Gills
I have taught undergraduate through graduate levels of creative writing, including workshops in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Several of my student writers have gone on to teach creative writing and many hold or have held fellowships at well-known graduate writing ograms. Their work has won prizes and inclusion in The Norton Anthology of Nonfiction, The New Bedford Anthology of Literature, multiple Best American Essays, Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, The Texas Review, Ecotone, The North American Review, Pleiades, Parting Gifts and elsewhere. For three successive years my students have had work included ncluded in Screnebendi, the prestigious national Honors Journal which receives more that 650 submissions a year. My workshops are spirited discourses on the discipline of opening oneself up as a writer, of overcoming sometimes overwhelming fear. Workshop is where we work through the nuts and bolts of scene and structure, point-of-view, conflict, language and tone, plot, characterization and the nuances involved in translating one's life experience into a prose composite. I teach writing as an endeavor that must come like a freight train from the heart; we must care deeply, I believe, about what we write. Student writers see my passion and the resulting workshops throw sparks. We roll up our sleeves. Chalk dust flies (or, more lately, blue squeaky markers). We interrupt each other, raise and lower our voices, get knee-deep in the work and entirely risk making fools of ourselves. I ask young writers to be fearless, to risk all. Let me assure you that I enjoy teaching writing workshops--what goes on in our minds and hearts and manuscripts matters. My best mentors have taught by giving wholly of themselves, and I feel privileged to do the same. In short, I consider it an honor to engage with young writers and their craft, the difficulties of which can be downright staggering.