As a professor, my favorite assignments are ones where I become absorbed in the grading, where the completed assignment (poem, essay, fiction, other…) leads me away from the table and off into some shredded sky and maybe underwater holding my breath in a glacial stream.
My 610 (Writing Across the Genres) is always an excellent class, as expected from graduate school writers. And I was recently grading an assignment I gave them: researching Lit Mags, looking up author interviews, taking a closer examination of both. The idea was for the students to dip a toe in ONE aspect of this literary/writing/whatever world.
From this assignment:
Updike says, “The general social contract–living with other people, driving cars on the highway–all this is difficult, it’s painful.”
Lowell thought teaching writing made him a better writer. He was always “aware.”
Rowling cried when she killed off a fictional character.
Vonnegut says we all use drugs to destroy ourselves. We hate ourselves.
Vonnegut says you CAN teach writing, “the way you can teach golf.” He says he was a good teacher for a few years, then a horrible one, especially during his divorce. He says you must have the “will” to teach–and he doesn’t anymore (at time of interview).
Phillip Lopate prefers the term “literary nonfiction” over “creative nonfiction.”
The best thing from this assignment. Lopate says:
“One of the things that literature does…is it allows us to be more understanding about human frailty, about error, tragic flaws, and therefore, makes us more forgiving, and more self-forgiving.”
Jim Harrison says, “A friend shot a badger in the head to make him turn loose of a dog but in death the badger continued chewing.”
Jim Harrison has been known to eat over 100 raw oysters and three, four bottles of wine in a sitting…
A girl poked his eye out with a glass bottle.
He made a lot of money off “Legends of the Fall” then snorted it up his nose.
Now he lives in Arizona and drives around with his dog shooting quail and drinking whiskey and making homemade head cheese.
I shit u not.