Writer in (permanent) residence
Everyone has a story. And those who choose to study creative writing have a powerful desire to tell their own stories. So powerful, in fact, that desire creates its own energy.
That’s according to Memorial’s new assistant professor of creative writing, Lisa Moore. And as one of Canada’s pre-eminent novelists, she ought to know.
“That energy is exciting to be around. It’s mega-watts of power,” said the internationally celebrated novelist and short story writer. “A creative writing class is sort of like a hydroelectric plant -- the Muskrat Falls of the imagination.”
“I'm very excited about Lisa's appointment," said Dr. Larry Mathews, director of the creative writing program and considered by Ms. Moore to be the best writing teacher she has ever had. "She'll be the standard-bearer for our graduate program in creative writing. This is an especially sweet moment for me, since Lisa was a member of the first creative writing class that I taught, back in the fall of 1985.
“It's been amazing to watch Lisa’s career develop over the last three decades, and I couldn't be happier that she has decided to accept this position. Her charisma and reputation will make our program a magnet for talented creative writing students from across the country, and beyond. And of course, to fulfil the "research" component of her responsibilities, she'll continue to write her own brilliant fiction.”
Dr. Lynne Phillips, dean, Faculty of Arts, says she couldn’t agree more.
“We are so fortunate to have Lisa Moore join us this year as a permanent member of the Faculty of Arts. Lisa's international reputation, combined with her ability to translate -- in such a compelling way -- the realities of Newfoundland and Labrador, will surely help raise the visibility of the program. Students taking this stream now have a rich array of faculty with whom to hone their writing skills.”
Despite a heavy schedule of writing and promoting her books, Ms. Moore has amassed considerable teaching experience during her career. For the past three years she taught online writing courses for the University of British Columbia while supervising 12 master's theses. She also taught at the University of Guelph, the Banff Centre and was Memorial’s writer-in-residence in 2004.
When it comes to teaching writing techniques, Ms. Moore says the rules are different for each writer and for each piece of writing. However, she maintains that creative writing can be taught and that every writer can benefit by mastering certain key devices.
“There are tools – the infinite number of ways a writer can employ point-of-view, for example. Examining how point-of-view works in a variety of texts, how it can create an emotional distance that the writer can manipulate to her own end, those sorts of conversations can bring a writer closer to articulating her own story. Whatever it is she is burning to tell.”
Teaching, she says, is inspiring.
“It provides the chance to talk about writing with writers – everybody talks about what they are reading, who are the wildest writers out there, who is funny, who is forging the new, who is writing the surprising, exhilarating, soul-quaking stuff. And of course we talk about how we can write that sort of stuff ourselves. I love being in that environment.”
And students love being in that environment with her. Writer Lynette Adams (BA ’11) completed a creative writing fiction course with Ms. Moore in 2007. Ms. Adams says she was impressed with the respect Ms. Moore treated each person's work.
"Her critical process was one more of curiosity than of correction. Rather than saying, 'You shouldn't do that,’ it was her style to say, ‘Why do you choose to do it that way?’ As writers, this approach liberated us to take chances, while at the same time challenging us to think critically about our choices.”
Ms. Moore credits creative writing programs for the “explosion” of writing across Canada and believes that strong communities of writers encourage writing. She says writing is a craft as much as it is an art, and it helps to have a community, especially if it is generous, and close-knit, as she says the artistic community in Newfoundland is, to talk about the secrets of craft, as well as art.
"The act of storytelling begets storytelling begets storytelling.”
For further information on the creative writing program, please visit www.mun.ca/english/CreativeWriting.php.