Visiting Assistant Professor
I believe that great poets are avid readers and keen observers. In my workshops, we read many poems from different eras that exemplify a combination of stylistic skill and emotional evocation. I stress that poems need not be about grand topics, but can be found in the most mundane places if we learn to see with a poet’s eye for detail and openness to unexpected beauty. When I teach students to identify and use formal poetic techniques, I am giving them a set of tools to draw from when they ponder how to most effectively convey a feeling, experience, or vision to their readers.
I love teaching American literature because it offers us new ways of understanding our own culture. My students are often surprised to learn that certain issues, debates, beliefs, and values they think of as current have actually circulated, surfaced, and resurfaced in America for centuries. By illuminating the varied emotional and psychological effects of historical events, cultural trends, and social structures, literature offers us a valuable lens through which we may better understand our present era and the roles we play in it.
In my spare time, I enjoy cooking indulgent vegetarian meals. I especially love to make and eat pasta dishes (creamy pesto tortellini with mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes has been my favorite recently), and I am always on the lookout for a reason to bake a cake. I also enjoy hiking, swimming in lakes, gardening, and vermicomposting, which means I am very emotionally attached to a large bin of worms in my backyard. I have two cats and agree with Mark Twain that a home’s worth is made manifest by the presence of “a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat.”