Elizabeth Bishop once wrote that she preferred poems that dramatize the mind "in action" rather than "at rest." The tradition of experienced writers reflecting on their own practices and disciplines offers a uniquely powerful vantage for the study of literature of the past, since for writers, whether learning or tracking their art, the past is also the present.
Think of W.G. Sebald discovering how to write The Rings of Saturn (1999) by reading Sir Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia, Urne-Buriall, or a Discourse of the Sepulchrall Urnes lately found in Norfolk (1658) or the young Elizabeth Bishop creating her early poems under the spectral tutelage of George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins. The practitioner tradition is inherently multidisciplinary—crossing literary genres, and drawing for energy and knowledge on other arts, such as painting, music, film, and photography.
Founded in Greenwich Village, in 1931, when Gorham Munson, a Manhattan editor and influential partisan of the Alfred Stieglitz circle, introduced his now-legendary experimental workshop in creative writing, the New School Writing Program has welcomed into our writing and literature faculty a vivid and diverse who's who of essential modern poets, novelists, and essayists, including, from past to present:
Robert Frost, W.H. Auden, Robert Lowell, Amiri Baraka, Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, Stanley Kunitz, Kay Boyle, May Sarton, Horace Gregory, Marguerite Young, William Goyen, Richard Yates, John F. Bardin, Edward Hoagland, David Ignatow, Alfred Kazin, Anatole Broyard, Carolyn Kizer, Daniel Halpern, Carol Muske Dukes, Bernadette Mayer, Pearl London, David Markson, and Gilbert Sorrentino.
When we first launched our MFA Program in Creative Writing in 1996, one goal was to reinvent this illustrious faculty tradition by convening its contemporary equivalent. Led by prizewinning biographer, poet, and essayist Robert Polito, novelist and screenwriter Helen Schulman, anthologist and poet David Lehman, and fiction writer Tiphanie Yanique, the School of Writing faculty currently also includes Jeffery Renard Allen, Robert Antoni, Catherine Barnett, Susan Bell, Mark Bibbins, Susan Cheever, Jonathan Dee, Elaine Equi, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Ann Hood, Shelley Jackson, Zia Jaffrey, Hettie Jones, James Lasdun, Suzannah Lessard, David Levithan, Greil Marcus, Patrick McGrath, Honor Moore, Sigrid Nunez, Dale Peck, Darryl Pinckney, Jenni Quilter, Helen Schulman, Tor Seidler, Laurie Sheck, Darcey Steinke, Benjamin Taylor, Craig Morgan Teicher, Susan Van Metre, Sarah Weeks, Brenda Wineapple, and Stephen Wright.
The faculty of the Riggio Honors Program: Writing & Democracy, under the direction of Polito and fiction writer Luis Jaramillo, includes Jeffery Renard Allen, Catherine Barnett, Mark Bibbins, Patricia Carlin, Elizabeth Gaffney, Tim Griffin, Tom Healy, Zia Jaffery, Suzannah Lessard, Sigrid Nunez, Greil Marcus, Rene Steinke, Sam Tanenhaus, Lynne Tillman, and Tiphanie Yanique.
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