Faculty member since: 2000
English Composition: Writing and Research
Bachelor of Arts, Stockton University
Master of Fine Arts in Writing and Literature, Goddard College
What brought you to Brookdale?
Brookdale has one of the best English departments at the community college level in the country.
Describe one or more of your biggest achievements as a Brookdale faculty member:
One of the most important of my experiences at Brookdale was starting the Creative Writing Committee and founding the Visiting Writers Series and the Creative Writing major, which I directed for eight years before passing on stewardship to another faculty member. I co-founded the Creative Writing Club, and for years I took students to the Dodge Poetry Festival and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference. I offer talks each year on the professional and educational paths available for creative writers. The last couple of years I have been working to develop articulation agreements with four-year colleges that have creative writing programs such as FDU, Stockton, Ramapo, Goddard, and The New School. I have also been working with faculty issues, including the strengthening of relations between faculty and the Brookdale Board of Trustees.
Do you work outside of the college?
My essays, memoirs, stories, and poetry have appeared widely in places such as “The Georgia Review,” “The American Poetry Review,” “Guernica,” “Pank,” “Gulf Coast,” “The Writer’s Chronicle,” and others. My recent books include Jersey Mercy (poems, forthcoming spring 2016, Black Lawrence Press), an edited anthology, A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race (University of Georgia Press, 2015), and Rigger Death & Hoist Another (poems, BLP, 2013). My previous books include Panic (poems, Alice James Books, 2011; winner of the Kinereth Genseler Award and a Foreword Book of the Year Finalist), Speech Acts (poems, BLP, 2010), What Men Want (XOXOX Press, 2009), The Dancing Bear (poems, Open Book Press, 2007), and the anthology The Room and the World: Essays on Stephen Dunn (University of Syracuse Press, 2014).
My poem, “There Were Only Dandelions,” was selected by Sherman Alexi to be featured in Best American Poetry, 2015. I was selected as a writer for the 2014/15 Florida Writers Circuit tour and have read in the Dodge Poetry Festival, the Decatur Book Festival and other events. I was recently awarded a Betsy House Fellowship and a Virginia Center of the Creative Arts fellowship. I have had fellowships or scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Sewanee Writers Conference, the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference and the NJ State Arts Council, among others. In addition to teaching full time at Brookdale Community College, I am on the faculty of the Sierra Nevada low-res MFA and have taught for Ramapo College and Stockton University. I teach for the Stockton University Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway. I am also the founding editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations.
What would you say is your most memorable moment – or moments – as a member of the Brookdale community?
It thrills me when I can help students who want to be writers transfer to a four-year college and even earn scholarships. Many come back for advice on getting their MFA. I have been teaching long enough now that I have worked with former students as they complete a graduate school program and go on to become teachers and writers themselves. Some even teach for Brookdale! When I receive a note or email from a student about a publication they got or about their teaching, it lets me know that what we do here at Brookdale is so worth it. One of my former students, Frank Lopes, who went on to FDU, was a Notable Mention in this year’s Best American Essays, 2015. That’s huge!
What do you think separates Brookdale from other colleges?
We have the best English faculty, and the Humanities Institute as a whole is truly stellar. It’s astonishing what our thinkers, writers and artists are doing. We have a very active faculty, and every one of them brings what they do into the classroom to benefit students.
Would you recommend that students take a class in your department?
Students definitely should be taking classes in art and literature and creative writing – not just the core classes of composition and research. People don’t realize how much critical thinking is really involved in the arts and the exploration of aesthetic principles. It changes a person. It makes them more human, more empathetic. Exploring creativity in the self widens one’s perspective and makes for more “Third Way,” less binary thinking. The world isn’t black and white; things are complicated, and it takes creative thinking and processes to come at many of the world’s problems. So I think every student should take art, music, theater, and, yes, creative writing!