ARTICLE: The Visions of Oakland University’s Director of Creative Writing

The time has come. I am officially a graduate of Oakland University. This final article as Photo Editor (and occasional reporter and blogger) for the Oakland Post marks the end of an era of learning my passion in life: creative writing. I have met many people on my journey to getting my bachelors, but one person who has helped me the most is the one and only Annie Gilson.

I had Gilson as a professor for my Advanced Creative Writing course about a year and a half ago. My good friend and fellow author Adrian Schirr was joining me, and I felt prepared to take the class by storm. However, I was not at all prepared for the intensity that is professor Gilson and her teaching.

To put it simply, she is a powerhouse of creative writing. Her energy was never less than 150%, and her passion for writing was even higher. She didn’t hold back with her critiques, and I admit that I left class with tears in my eyes after having some of my work ripped apart. However, it was the critiques I needed to hear, not the critiques I necessarily wanted to hear. That was one of the most important values I learned after taking Gilson’s course. I needed to develop a thick skin when it comes to revising and critiques. My writing isn’t perfect, and I need to know and not let my feelings get hurt when someone says “this makes no sense!”

The best part is that Gilson applies everything she teaches to her students to her own writing, which I learned when I interviewed her about her novel New Light, which was first published in 2006, and reprinted in 2010.

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ARTICLE: Beloved English Professor Retires After 27 Years of Teaching

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Professor Edward Haworth Hoeppner reads poetry from his collection “Ancestral Radio” during his farewell reading on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

After nearly three decades of working at Oakland University, English Professor Edward Haworth Hoeppner is retiring. On Tuesday, Nov. 10, he had a farewell reading in Dodge Hall, where nearly 100 students and faculty — both past and present — came to listen to his poetry and to bid him farewell.

Hoeppner’s Early Life

At 64 years old, Hoeppner has done a lot in his life. He grew up in Winona, Minnesota on the Mississippi River and studied for a year to become a priest at St. Mary’s University. When he decided that wasn’t the right path for him, he started to focus on English and Creative Writing.

“My high school English teacher first got me really interested in writing. It was illegal. We used to go to his house and drink beer and talk literature and that continued through college,” Hoeppner said with a laugh.

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ARTICLE: The Dead Don’t Care, but Thomas Lynch Does.

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Thomas Lynch visited, read his poetry and segments of his memoir to students in the Oakland Center on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Part of the requirements to get a degree in Creative Writing is to take a specific track, whether it’s fiction, poetry, or screen writing. Although I chose to take Fiction, I was also required to try other genres. I gave both poetry and screen writing a shot, and I can say definitively that each style of writing requires a different set of skills and a different mindset to write effectively. It’s difficult to switch between the two.

Which is why Thomas Lynch is master of writing. Although he started off as a poet, he has expanded his skills to write fiction, memoirs, a book of essays, and even a play. As Brian Connery, an English professor at Oakland University said in his opening statements during Lynch’s reading, “he turned to prose with a poet’s precision.”

However, what makes Lynch unique is not his astounding ability to write in any form he wishes. It is his unique job as an undertaker that gives his poetry and fiction a new life of its own.

Lynch graced Oakland University with his presence October 26-27, giving discussions to the medical school, a craft talk on writing, and ending with an hour long reading of poetry and excerpts from his memoir The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. Needless to say, he was very generous with his time, and everyone who attended his events were very thankful.

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ARTICLE: Under the Golden Sail

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When Adrian Schirr isn’t working on her own books, she is a writing consultant in the Writing Center at Oakland University.

I’ve met a lot of writers over the years. Most of them I met through creative writing workshops. I had the pleasure of meeting Adrian Schirr in my first creative writing workshop at Oakland University. We were in Professor Dawn Newton’s class. My first impressions of Adrian were that she was very friendly and knew a lot about writing and editing. We instantly became good friends through that class, and then later took our advanced creative writing course with Professor Annie Gilson.

We’ve learned a lot together over the last couple of semesters. She even helped me out with my own manuscript outside of class, when I would visit her in the writing center located in Kresge Library. Every week, we would read aloud a chapter or two and she would point out the flaws and make suggestions on how to improve. Honestly, the only time I ever went to the writing center was to see Adrian.

It was no different when I met with her to talk about her own book series. We met on Wednesday, August 26th outside of the writing center. We caught up after not seeing each other for several months. She told me about her boys, and I told her about my own progress with my novel – and that I planned on coming back to the writing center to have her read over the sequel. It was a laid back and quiet atmosphere to have our interview. Unlike the other interviews I’ve done with OU authors, there was no book reading for me to go to. It was just me and Adrian, and the two books sitting between us on the table.

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