Visiting Writers and Poets
Since its inception, the program has invited distinguished writers to teach graduate and undergraduate courses. They have included Edwidge Danticat, Shelby Hearon, Maxine Kumin, Terese Svoboda, Nintochka Rosca, Juan Delgado, Arthur Sze and Sabina Murray. More recently, Cristina Garcia, John Murillo, Peter Selgin, Patricia Engel, R. Zamora Linmark, Chris Abani and Adrian Castro have taught in our program. Other distinguished visitors have been Isaac Bashevis Singer and James A. Michener, whose generosity began and has sustained the M.F.A. program for years.
Valerie Martinez, Visiting Associate Professor, Fall 2012.
As a graduate student teacher at the University of Arizona, long ago, I was lucky enough to have been trained by John and Tillie Warnock, innovators in the field of Rhetoric and Composition. Their teaching philosophy—student-centered and collaborative—emphasized the classroom as a place where students “create knowledge” with the careful and dedicated facilitation of the instructor. In this model, students (rather than the instructor) are at the center of the learning experience and their active participation results in a dynamic classroom atmosphere.
Since that time, I have expanded my teaching pedagogy (and the walls of the classroom) to include another kind of “peer educator”—the wider community. Over 22 years of teaching, I have seen how students mature and develop when their learning experience reaches beyond the walls of the institution. They become more responsible, reflective, and knowledgeable, and their idea of social responsibility and civic capacity brings a new resonance to their creative and scholarly work. This model (student-centered, community-aware) demands both flexibility and creativity from an instructor, something that keeps me interested in teaching 26 years after my first teaching assignment.
At the same time, my teaching (creative writing and literature) emphasizes the cultivation of the “inner life” that is fed by voracious reading, reflection, and both creative and critical writing. I believe that good and great writers are well-read, well-aware of the literary traditions that underlie the body of contemporary literature, and PRACTICED. I have seen remarkable progress made by poets and prose writers who dedicate themselves to the art and discipline of writing.
At the College of Santa Fe (2203-2009), I was also able to design and launch two innovative and interdisciplinary majors. Interdisciplinary majors tap what I consider the immense potential for the future of undergraduate education—cross-disciplinary/multi-disciplinary learning and collaboration. I have witnessed genuine transformation in students who learn to think expansively and across disciplinary boundaries. Interdisciplinary courses also encourage innovative teaching and my own teaching has benefited greatly from thinking more expansively about what can be done in the classroom.
Finally, I genuinely love teaching, preparing for classes, as well as reading and reviewing student work. I also enjoy spending time with my students outside of class, working on special projects, and inventing new ways to learn outside the classroom. I have spent much of my life in the company of college and university students; I love their company.