Creative Writing Educators

“The most important thing you can provide a young writer is to tell them what to read, to give them models. If you’re trying to teach creative writing in the ninth grade, and you ask ‘have you read any Claudia Rankine?’ most students would not know her work. But this is one of the best poets working right now and kids need to be excited about her, not Pope, not Emily Dickinson. Teachers often get shoved into a creative writing positions, and they don’t know how to teach craft because they're not writing themselves. Craft is an understanding of how to construct a piece, how to put it together, how to actually tell a story, one that is emotive and jumps off the page. The worst thing you can tell a kid is, ‘alright sit down and write a poem.’ You gotta give them a prompt, a place to start. I often do this memory prompt for nonfiction students to try and shake loose some memories. I fill a box with objects, then pull them one-by-one out of the box. When they see the object, they write down the first memory that pops in their heads. So, I'll pull out a can of pork and beans and someone will say ‘family reunion ten years ago with my kooky grandfather.’ And that is the beginning of an essay. When students ask what to do in the summer, I tell them to go out and get a job and live life. They're going to get enough teaching from us from August to May. I need them to have things to write about. So go experience life.”

Scott Gould
Creative Writing Department Chair, Creative Nonfiction Instructor
South Carolina Governor's School
Author of the story collection Strangers to Temptation