Affiliate Associate Professor
In her essay “The Instant of Knowing,” distinguished poet and longtime Baltimore resident Josephine Jacobsen defines her title phrase as follows: “A knowledge of what we already knew becomes for an instant so devastatingly fresh that it could be contained no more than a flash of lightning.” Such moments of grace and insight are the goals of both writing and teaching: they are the gift of an open-minded, open-hearted response to art and literature; they are the product of long reflection on ourselves and on the world. A writers’ workshop is just such an opportunity: we seek the meaning of experience and examine our own intent, even as we consider how words affect others for good or ill.
As a poet who often writes in meter, I’m committed to the quest for form and meaning through language. Whether in Effective Writing or through upper-level courses in poetry or prose, I encourage Loyola students to work hard and write clearly, the better to make a contribution to their community and world. In Writing about Music and Culture, students reflect thoughtfully on the popular culture that surrounds them, connecting their current listening to a narrative tradition that arose from British Isles ballads and African American blues. Likewise, Comics in America looks to the past to cast light on the present: the art and wordplay of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, for example, explores its creator’s Creole background and his love for the Southwest to produce what art critic Gilbert Seldes called, in 1924, “the most amusing and fantastic and satisfactory work of art produced in America today.”
In his Nobel lecture Crediting Poetry, Seamus Heaney describes the power of poetic form but also, I feel, illuminates the place of writing in a Jesuit education:
“The form of the poem…is crucial to poetry’s power to do the thing which always is and always will be to poetry’s credit: the power to persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness of its rightness in spite of the evidence of wrongness all around it, the power to remind us that we are hunters and gatherers of values, that our very solitudes and distresses are creditable, in so far as they too are an earnest of our veritable human being.”
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)