In spring of 2011 when I received news that approval of my application for tenure was certain I was on a leave of absence from Susquehanna and was teaching in Budapest, Hungary as a Fulbright lecturer. My second book had just been published in fall of 2010 and from my vantage point abroad I could see clearly the way in which the university makes possible my life in literature. Thinking towards my post-tenure return, I found myself grateful not only for the security of tenure but to be coming back to a small liberal arts university that supports small class size, teaching innovation, creativity, and community. The number of courses my colleagues in Hungary regularly teach, relative lack of university infrastructure, and the absence of a creative writing culture in the university setting accentuated my gratitude and reinforced my sense that tenure is not only an affirmation but an invitation to try harder, work harder, and make more of one's situation.
Since returning to Susquehanna in fall of 2011 I have tried in all areas of my work to do just this, and the aim of this portfolio site is to describe the advances I have made in scholarship, teaching, and service since my promotion to Associate Professor. My goal is to flesh out the work that has surrounded the three books I have had accepted for publication since tenure; the teaching innovations that I have cultivated; and the specific areas of service—departmental service for our large creative writing program and university-wide service in faculty scholarship—that I have focused on developing for the campus community. In doing so I will first start with a brief introductory overview of my work as a poet and the way that this work feeds—and is fed by—my university work as a teacher and community member. I will then describe for you the other pages of this portfolio site and how you might with ease and efficiency navigate them.
In case an Executive Summary of this portfolio would be useful, you can find one here. Thank you for spending the time to learn more about my work: I am honored to have you visit these pages.
My writing comes from two sources. The first and primary is sense-based embodied experience. This lyric territory tunes into musicality, imagery, and utterance that come from the soul and the gut before thinking processes elongate and take over. The second source is philosophy, the abstract practice of languaging attachments embodied experience might create with the world’s structures and systems. While my professional education (MFA, Iowa Writers Workshop 2001; PhD, University of Denver 2005) and career as a university professor and writer have led me to write out of these two sources, their combination roots much deeper. Before going to college I trained to be a classical ballet dancer and danced with a regional company, which cultivated a self that at one and the same time deeply inhabits each movement while keeping in mind the abstract, perfect form of each gesture, a twinning I later would connect with poetry and philosophy, the disciplines that would become important to me at the university and forever after.
In terms of subject-formation—and artist-formation—this double inhabiting teaches the complexity of artifice and authenticity: the self seen in the mirror, on video, or by the audience both is and is not the dancer who in performance becomes the dance. This double inhabiting is essential to the act of writing: to be absorbed in the creative process, but to have also the ability to see one's work from afar and to edit. This double action is also what I teach students to do: to absorb in reading and writing processes and then, through workshop, conference, and re-consideration to re-vision initial absorption into powerful creative expression, refined for the greatest impact. Furthermore, I seek to cultivate awareness that without a community of fellow writers, editors, and publishers—and without a community of readers and thinkers—art, poetry, and writing cease to meaningfully exist.
These two impulses of lyric and philosophy, of body and thought, come through most vividly in my focus upon book-length projects, which allow me to extend image and music into larger spaces of thought. It is important to me to also highlight the scholarship I do as a poet-critic, editor, and publisher: I see this work as being intimately entwined with my book projects and a logical extension of living a life in literature. And, as I hope my teaching pages reflect, my book projects and other scholarship are also deeply informed by my teaching and deeply inform the way that I teach. In turn, my scholarship and teaching would mean little without the the poetry and university communities that I inhabit and the service section of this portfolio reflects the ways that I lend myself beyond classroom and page to the university. All is entwined; for the sake of clarity, however, through the course of this promotion portfolio I will separate out the activities of scholarship, teaching, and service. For further clarity all content, except when otherwise noted, refers to post-tenure activities.
While a website, as opposed to a bound dossier, allows readers to move through various paths, I suggest first reading about my scholarship; then teaching; then service. Violet-colored links at the bottom of each page will lead you along this path, but for easy reference here is a linked list:
The violet "Promotion Portfolio" link at the top of each page will bring you back home—back here. As a side-note: at the very top of all pages of this "Promotion Portfolio" site you will find navigation links to my public site which contains much of the information that I have prepared on this portfolio site for you—but in miniature.
Advance to the next page of this portfolio, Scholarship, by clicking here.