Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Authors Who Teach: Author Appreciation Week

I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn't be any sort of writer if I hadn't been taught. I might have been a dirt-scratching monkey or a formidable gossip, but I wouldn't have been able to write. Many teachers worked hard at this, beginning with Mrs. Carver who wrapped my warty fingers around a big round black pencil and set me to work.

With respect for all of them, I would like to offer appreciation to three of my teachers today.

First is Dr. Janis Bruwelheide, who gave me a grammar and some good clear advice. I needed to learn to write. She was my Library Science professor, and she saved my life--or at least my academic career, which is good as.

Second is Dr. Lynda Sexson, who laid down the mechanics of imagination.

"The way of metaphor is very like a potato; it never has a simple set of associations." 

I really can't improve on that.

Finally Richard Brautigan, a man with a broken leg who walked into the classroom and showed us the notebook where he had mapped out what he would be teaching us about poetry. It was a common spiral notebook with "The Spirit of St. Louis" written on the cover in ball point pen. There was nothing on the pages. If you wonder about voice, listen to him read a chapter from his novel Trout Fishing in America, called The Hunchback Trout.

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