“I keep stealing away to take notes…what kind of mother am I, I think, taking notes at a time like this?”
—Jamie Quatro, “What It Takes,” Poets & Writers 2014
Beginning writers are often instructed to write what they know: they set pen to page and write about their professions, their hometowns, their enduring interests and disappointments. Advanced writers operate in much the same way: when at a loss of how or where to begin, they return to the old touchstones of experience.
But when writers enter parenthood, this approach can become jumbled: some parents are unsure of the value of writing about their lives. And yet, the parent-child experience is rich territory for much of both canonical and contemporary literature: in this course, we’ll consider the memoir of Rachel Cusk, the essays of Michael Chabon, and additional excerpted pieces that address the parenting experience.
Students will be encouraged to write from their experiences as parents, and everyone will participate in regular workshop sessions, offering thoughtful, critical feedback to fellow writers. Whether seeking to start a memoir or to finally finish an existing book of essays, this course will help students establish and sustain a writing practice while navigating the identities of writer and parent.
Kirsten Andersen is the author of Family Court, a chapbook collection of poems forthcoming from Q. Ave. Press. Named the 2014 Anthony Hecht Scholar at the Sewanee Writer's Conference, Kirsten has received fellowships from Stanford University and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is a National Poetry Series finalist whose work appears most recently in Canteen Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, Tin House, and The Believer. She received her MFA from New York University.