CWCAB: Creative/Writing Center Note

Amy Hansen, staff writer, introduces our special creative writing feature to wrap up the spring ’17 semester! To read individual pieces, click the pull quotes below, or scroll through the creative writing section of the blog. 

I had no idea what we’d receive when we put out the call for creative writing about writing center work, but I was banking on the obsessive devotion both fields require to produce good results. We read so many good submissions from all over the world — from South Africa to Hawai’i to Canada (and beyond!) — and gradually, as these things do, a theme began to emerge.

Like our writers, all of whom identify as creative writers and writing center folks, each piece we chose features a space between the creative and the academic, between self and other, between prescriptivist and descriptivist, between music and poetry, and between play and form.

This makes sense to me! As writing center tutors and administrators, our work requires us to shift rapidly in and out of discourse communities and interpersonal roles. So why wouldn’t that same tension translate thematically and stylistically to our creative writing?

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Call for Submissions: Creative Writing/Center

Amy Hansen is the assistant director of the Appalachian State University Writing Center and a recent graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at Northern Michigan University. She’s joining the CWCAB blog team as a staff writer–and has a great first project!

For my first project at CWCAB, I’d like to solicit and share the creative writing of writing center tutors and administrators here on the blog. I’d love to read poetry and short non-fiction/fiction pieces about writing center work, but I’m just as interested in creative work that’s more abstractly inspired by the practice and pedagogy of tutoring writing. Maybe you have a poem inspired by an interaction with a student in the writing center. Maybe you wrote a reflective profile of yourself as a tutor. Maybe (fingers crossed!) you composed the first writing center rock opera. Whatever it is, however you got there from writing center studies, we want to read it.

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WLN News Round-Up: April 11-24

Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:

Special announcement!: The Writing Centre at the University of British Columbia was facing closure, but student efforts have succeeded in keeping the Centre open. You can check out our initial post on the UBC closure here and our interview with tutor Cole Klassen here.

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“Streamlining Citations”-  The Modern Language Association is releasing the 8th Edition of the MLA Handbook this month. This article explains some of the major changes and the motivation behind them. Notably, the new edition will include a digital style center. [Inside Higher Ed]

“Is Online Tutoring the Future of Personalized Learning?”- This article discusses the advantages that students who have access to one-on-one learning gain and suggests that online tutoring could be a way to give more students access to personalized learning. While this article focuses on how private companies rather than colleges and universities can leverage online tutoring, it raises important questions about access to educational resources. [EdSurge]

“11 Podcasts for Poetry Lovers”- April is National Poetry Month in the United States! You can celebrate by checking out one of the podcasts in this list. [Book Riot]

WLN News Round-Up

Assistant blog editor, Amber Slater, shares some of what’s on the WLN news radar this week:

Students provide NANOWRIMO tutoring. Utah State University Writing Center tutors are currently staffing a community writing center that is offering resources to writers completing the National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) challenge, in which participants write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. [HJNews]

From New York Times

From New York Times

Poetry goes viral on Instagram. Poets are building readership by publishing  on Instagram and Tumblr. For some, this online popularity leads to mainstream publishing deals. My question is: How can writing centers best support writers who are publishing their work through Instagram and blogging platforms? [New York Times]


An NCPTW discussion continues. At the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW), the presenters of “(De)Centering Stories about Teaching and Tutoring: A Narrative Round Table” have shared a Google doc with their stories about navigating the duality of working in a writing center and teaching composition as graduate students. They have invited other writing center professionals who have experienced duality in their writing center roles to share their stories on the doc as well.

What writing & tutoring-related news have you been reading this week? Let us know in the comments!

Directors with MFAs

Editor’s note: Dillon Tripp, of Jackson State Community College in Tennessee, recently started a Facebook group for writing center directors. Sharing snapshots of our careers, several of us noticed that there were a fair amount of directors with MFAs. I invited them to share more about their experience transitioning into the field after finishing their degree, the advantages their MFA has brought to their careers, and the challenges they face today. Some excerpts are below:

403124_10151107688881571_2037315856_nPATRICK HARGON
MFA in poetry, Colorado State U, 2000
Director at University of Nebraska at Kearney Learning Commons

The main connection that ties my former experimental poet days to my WCD days is simple: despair. But the good kind, the kind that propels. Writing forced me into places I never actually found my way out of–I’d draft a poem for two years before it started to mean something unified to me. I wanted the medium to do so much more than I could make it do, and I felt drawn to find out what lies “north of the future,” in Paul Celan’s language.



It is the labor and the discouragement that immediately bonds me to the students who come to the writing centers I’ve directed. I find myself tuned into gradations of readiness–are you ready to just abandon this draft and come at it from a more promising vantage point? Are you ready to gut this paragraph? The next one too? Those writers I feel the deepest kinship with, just as I did with my fellow agonizers in the MFA program. They despair, but they despair productively.

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