As a creative writer and educator, I was impelled by this book. It sat on my nightstand less than a fortnight, before it was past tense. With my verve up, I decided to review the book by holding it up against the IRL teaching pedagogies happening in my home state. So I contacted several of the best writers in Kentucky, who also happen to be educators, and I queried if I could sit in on any of their current creative writing classes.
Putting “view” in [ ]s hailed from multiple sources, a dictionary poem “White of Way: after A. Van Jordan Byron De La Beckwith” by Frank X. Walker and what I would term David Foster Wallace’s discursive relationship with viewing, televisual culture, ad nauseam from Infinite Jest. In light of the dictionary beginning and the discursive forms at play in this review, proceed poetic through the skein of tweaks-d’form.
Not all of the writer/edu types I typed to responded. Of the handful of missives I sent, only two responded favorably—Dale Rigby and Frank X. Walker. After making arrangements, I traveled to Western Kentucky University and University of Kentucky to conduct a video interview with the two gracious authors and sit in on a class. Following the class and interviews, I tried to edit the conversation so that segments of the two disparate dialogues would correlate with a chapter/pedagogical approach from the text.
From Kentucky with love, I traveled to Bowling Green and Lexington to bring Drs. Dale Rigby and Frank X. Walker’s twenty-first century perspectives on teaching creative writing to bolster this review.
The structure of this review is as follows: 1) it started out as an extended haiku, to some degree it still is; 2) the haiku is a metaprocess comment or a direct commentary on a specific video, if a video is associated with the poem; 3) images have no direct corollary with the haiku; they are more of a thematic element. So the Home page sets the review in motion; the Viewer page introduces you, Viewer, to the review; the Review page is where the text is considered comparatively in relation to the current pedagogical approaches of two of the Bluegrasses’ preeminent writer/educators; and the Reviewer page is set up as a conclusion that reflects more on writerly process.
Dale, Iowa Writer’s Workshop alum, elucidates the present state of the Program Era. The Program Era refers to the proliferation of Creative Writing Programs throughout the U.S. Marc McGurl’s 2011 book, The Program Era, digs into this topic from post-WWII to the present. Loren Glass has just put out an edited collection called After the Program Era as of 2017 via the University of Iowa Press. I’m partial to D.G. Myers’ The Elephants Teach and its slant on the Program Era. All of these texts attempt to unpack how we arrived at this point where every major university has stumbled all over itself to put an MFA in their catalogs.
Frank discusses mentorship, finishing his MFA, writing historical poetry, and growing a book from assignment to final manuscript.
Process image: This is a play on syllable count in a haiku with the added difficulty of using W words. The page to screen development of the overall extended haiku was playful and challenging.