Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Writing Mentors - part 1

My friend and colleague Vicki was describing an assignment for her advanced comp class, where she asked students to write about their writing mentors, a person, experience, etc. My first thought was the anti-mentor (the Harry Potteresque De-mentor) who taught the first year comp class at Bryn Mawr in the dark ages (1965). This was current traditional rhetoric, writing about literature - in this case, British Romantic 19th century poems and prose. The prof, whose name begins with B, proclaimed that my writing was awful and he couldn't possibly help me.

By contrast, years later (1989), I found an excellent writing mentor by reading the New York Times Book Review weekly and absorbing by osmosis the writing approach and styles in the reviews for prose. When I moved from Grants Pass to Lebanon, I just hated recycling 10 years worth of NYTBR issues! What a loss.

As for poetry, I would say that the work of Jane Kenyon is a huge (though not the only) influence. (consider her wonderful poem "Having it out with Melancholy.")

I can tell that I am going to write about this more, hence the Part 1 in the title.


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