Interview with teacher Shuli Lamden
1. What are the logistics of the course–title, time, place, etc.
Writing on Location (English 228) will meet Tuesday mornings from 8:30-11am. Our first day (August 21) we’ll gather at SFCC (room 805 in the new TAT wing) to get acquainted & set up carpools, and after that we’ll meet at the Farmer’s Market itself.
2. What inspired you to teach the course?
Some of my most powerful learning and writing experiences have been place-based, focusing on land and people and culture and systems in the real world. As a poet and nonfiction writer, I’ve found a lot of rich material in what biologists or anthropologists might call “fieldwork.” I even remember studying “Nature and Culture in Yosemite” for an American Studies course when I was in college 30 years ago. More recently, I took a field course on environment & politics in Alaska, and I’ve been working on writing natural history & other forms of creative nonfiction.
When I read Michael Pollen’s book “The Botany of Desire,” I was enthralled with his idea of how plants use humans to evolve, and that got me thinking about the Farmer’s Market as a site for place-based inquiry & creative nonfiction writing. I put that together with SFCC’s exciting creative writing program and emphasis on sustainability, and out came “Writing on Location”!
3. What can a student expect–location, focus, writing, etc.
The Farmer’s Market–and the whole Railyard corridor–have such potential to inspire interesting and marketable writing! We’ll be sharpening our own observational skills and challenging ourself with multiple interviews– farmers and customers and buskers and artists, all the local players. I’m also hoping to set up some farm visits & other outings that will enrich our field work. By November, we’ll be back at SFCC workshopping our pieces & preparing them to send out for publication.
4. What will be the most fun?
I’m really excited about meeting farmers and sellers and learning about their ways of life. We may also volunteer at a farm or at the market & then explore the work from the inside out. In the past, when I’ve assigned students to interview folks in the community, many have built important new relationships and even been offered jobs! There’s just no substitute for real-world experience, and this course will be rich with material we can bring to our writing.
5. Anything else?
Hmmm . . . just a note that together we’ll be practicing the steps and strategies used by successful freelance writers. Those of us who choose the writing life still have to pay our bills–and this course includes exploration of print & online publication venues. So our work will not only be creative, but also take a turn toward the practical–but in a fun & supportive setting.