One of the reasons I get frustrated by people dissing profs is that teaching seems to me to be a true calling. I'm asked again and again this question, "Who inspired me to be a writer?" That question doesn't make sense to me for a lot of reasons mainly because I despise the term inspiration -- I think it's one of the most creatively damaging and frustratingly pervasive notions of our time. You can't be inspired for 350 pages. It just becomes much more complex than that. (I take that back -- maybe some can. I can't.) But I understand the gist of the question. People who ask the question want to know who made an impact on my life.
Aside from the personal impact of family -- which is huge and overshadows everything else -- there are a number of people, mostly teachers and professors -- the MFA, Breadloaf, and an occasional frenemy who pushed me competitively to work harder and sometimes a particularly philosophical janitor, and nuns; if you know me at all, you know there will be nuns.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to try to answer the question above -- and I don't know that it will always be pretty or lovely.
I'm a contrary soul -- who's probably more fired up by someone telling me that I can't more than someone who tells me I can.
Upcoming? Fred Chappell, Michael Collier, Carmine Chickadel, Dobyns, Cruce Stark, Claudia Emerson, Sharon Dilworth, Fleda Brown, Sharon Mitchell, James Lo Scalzo, Elise Zealand, a janitor...