Meet Teaching Artist Austin Allen
Austin Allen is the author of Pleasures of the Game (Waywiser Press), winner of the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. His poetry has recently appeared in the Yale Review, the Sewanee Review, the Missouri Review, Verse Daily, and the Hopkins Review. His essays and criticism have appeared via Poetry Foundation, Parnassus, 32 Poems, and other outlets. He was a fellow in poetry at the 2017 Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has taught creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cincinnati.
To see Austin's current class list, visit his author bio page.
How would you describe your teaching style?
Lively and dialogue-based. To me, a successful class is one that's sparked a good conversation.
When it comes to imagining and creating classes, where do your ideas come from? What in particular inspires you?
I enjoy designing classes whose topic seems, at first glance, "light"—creative writing classes centered on comedy, for example, or dreams. Both as a reader and a writer, I'm very interested in what's considered "light" or "unserious," what's "not real" or "doesn't count"—especially because many non-artists view art itself in those terms. Basically, I'm intrigued by anything that people qualify with the word "just" in order to bracket it off from reality: "just a dream," "just a joke," "just a game," "just a metaphor," etc. To me, the unserious is what rejuvenates art, just as art rejuvenates life.
What's the ideal environment for your classroom? What atmosphere are you hoping to establish?
An atmosphere that's relaxed, respectful, and constructive.
Regardless of what your class is specifically focusing on, what's the main goal you have for your students?
I want them to have the tools they need to do their best writing—to say what they need to say, and what only they can say, on the page.
To you personally, what is the most important part of the literary arts?
Finding ways to make language tell the truth when it wants to do everything but.