The Stanford Creative Writing Program named National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Oates and U.S. Poet Laureate Louise Glück as the 2015 Mohr and Stein Visiting Writers.
During winter quarter, Oates and Glück will be teaching ENGLISH 190V: Reading for Writers and ENGLISH 192: The Occasions of Poetry, respectively. Fifteen sophomores, juniors and seniors will be chosen through application for each class.
According to Eavan Boland, director of the Creative Writing Program, the classes change year to year, depending on the visiting writer. The writers are brought in as professionals for the purpose of sharing insight into their craft.
“In the beginning, all of us thought that it would be really special to bring writers here, not in an academic way, [but to] go into a classroom and be writers, so that students could see these people whose lives had been made out of the commitment to writing,” Boland said. “That in and of itself would be an education.”
Boland specified that the writers are brought in on the merit of their teaching abilities.
“We look for the writers that we hear of as very communicative, [who] really can get into a classroom and tell people about themselves and about writing,” she said.
Two endowments set up by Issac and Maddy Stein as well as Nancy and Larry Mohr make the Visiting Writers program possible. For over a decade, the Creative Writing Program has been able to bring in a diverse series of authors and poets, from Abraham Verghese to Kay Ryan.
Christina Ablaza, program manager of the Creative Writing Program, notes that these courses are relatively selective.
“It really varies from each year,” she said. “We’ve had years where everyone has been able to get in, and we’ve had other years where…several students haven’t been able to take the course.”
The knowledge and enthusiasm of these writers, however, is not limited to the select few students taking their course. Glück will be visiting SLE, and both professors will have open office hours.
Boland notes that each year, the visiting writers captivate and inspire students.
“You want somebody who, when a student goes into their room, they sense [as a] committed and dedicated writer, and [the student] will learn from that,” Boland said.
Samuel Reamer contributed to this report.
Contact Rebecca Aydin at raydin ‘at’ stanford.edu.