Creative Critics

Rappahannock-Review

A small circle of University of Mary Washington students scrutinized the printed sheets of poetry resting on their laps. Lost in their lively deliberation the amateur literary critics seemed oblivious to the bitter cold outside the Combs Hall window. “I really want to like this poem,” said senior Abbey Doherty. “I think I love what it’s pursuing.” “I just love the way the poet used the pomegranate,” fellow student Greg Chandler said from across the circle. “I can see this.” “This isn’t the typical divorce poem,” Visiting Assistant Professor of English Elizabeth Wade explained to the group after further discussion. “OK, let’s vote.” The group readied for the ballot—five thumbs up; one down—signaling acceptance in the Rappahannock Review, a new online literary journal created and published by UMW students. With 138 submissions just in the month of February, the Rappahannock Review is a burgeoning publication with plans to publish at least two issues a year and includes … [Read more...]

A Poet’s Perspective

Emerson_laugh_crop_gm web

The door to Claudia Emerson’s office on the Fredericksburg campus tells a story: her favorite quotes about writing and poetry are pinned to a corkboard; a name badge from her appearance at the 2011 National Book Festival hangs from a hook; and a black and white photo of Emily Dickinson is front and center. Emerson, the Arrington Distinguished Chair of Poetry at the University of Mary Washington, drew inspiration from a Dickinson poem for the title of her own latest poetry collection, “The Opposite House.” Emerson finished the book, recently accepted for publication, during her Guggenheim Fellowship sabbatical last semester. The sabbatical took her from catacombs in Sicily to medical history museums in Frederick, Md., and Chicago. “I became interested in looking at loss from a distance and looking imaginatively into the lives of others,” she said, explaining that “The Opposite House” ranges from poems about rural life in America to poems of travel and medical history. As … [Read more...]

Conversation Starter

Warren 8

For Warren Rochelle, professor of English, a class is a conversation where knowledge goes both ways. “Classes are conversations between students and the professor. Knowledge isn’t static,” he said. “We make and discover meaning in conversation, whether it is a conversation with self, with a text, and in this case, in a classroom, with those who are participating in the class. Students bring knowledge to the table, as does the professor, and then through the give-and-take of a class discussion, through responses to a lecture, through blog posts, meaning is explored and developed.” His goal is for students to achieve mastery of the subject and feel engaged with the material. To make the coursework come alive for his students, Rochelle encourages discussions in small groups. An accomplished science fiction writer in his own right and one of the Princeton Review’s 300 Best Professors, Rochelle’s passion for fantasy and science fiction is evident in his classes. … [Read more...]