Here is Jane’s brief account of her few days on the WWC campus as the creative nonfiction Writer-in-Residence last fall:
The Warren Wilson I knew as an MFA student during the 1980s was very much its own world. We landed on campus for but a brief time in winter and again in summer, and we filled only a small portion of the place. As well, we were consumed with the intensity of the residency. We knew almost nothing of the undergraduate program, and didn’t much comprehend what it meant to be at an historic work college. When I returned as Writer in Residence this past November – for the first time since my graduation in 1988 — a few things were easily familiar: the farm, the river, the view from the ridge. But they were interwoven with the strange: a walking bridge, so many more buildings. Newest of all to me was what had been there all along — the burgeoning undergraduate life of the place: student work crews everywhere trimming trees, building podiums, renovating buildings; live, impromptu music filling the cool November night…. To see it in all its energy and particularities brought Warren Wilson full circle.
For me, teaching creative writing to undergraduates is also an intersection of the familiar and strange. As an undergraduate during the 1970s I had almost no chance to take a creative writing workshop, so to be invited to participate in such a strong writing program felt quite special. As I sat with a senior at Cowpie to go over her portfolio, or as I visited Catherine Reid’s class in Jensen to discuss not only the craft of writing but also the time and dedication that the writing life takes, I could see what a difference early support was making in the students’ lives. And I couldn’t help but be buoyed by so much hope, enthusiasm, and talent in a place that is intimately tied to my own journey as a writer.
Jane is the author of Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light