MFA Faculty Mentors
AMY HASSINGER is a graduate of Barnard College and the Iowa Writer's Workshop and the author of three novels: Nina: Adolescence (Putnam 2003)
-- deemed “superb” by O, the Oprah Magazine and “truly penetrating” by Salon— The Priest’s Madonna (Putnam 2006), and After the Dam (Red Hen Press 2016. Her books have been translated into five languages, and she has earned awards from Creative Nonfiction magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Illinois Arts Council. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in many publications, including Creative Nonfiction, The Writer’s Chronicle, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is also the author of a history textbook called Finding Katahdin: An Exploration of Maine’s Past (University of Maine Press 2001). Amy lives in Illinois with her family.
“Writing, for me, is an extended exercise in empathy. Teaching is, too. I try to meet my students where they are, both in life and with their work, and to help guide them forward along their own particular path. When I approach student work, I like to play what Peter Elbow calls “the believing game,” entering the piece with faith in its potential, making an effort to discern what it’s trying to be. Often, a piece’s core resides where the writing is strongest. Once that’s clear, we begin to examine problems, places where the piece may be missing its own mark.
"So much of learning how to write is in the simple doing of it: you write, you read—for guidance and inspiration—and then you write some more. It’s a grand exploration, a long hike through the wilderness. As teacher, I’m the naturalist leading a portion of that hike: I’ll point out flora and fauna, guide you in a productive direction, and make sure you stop to admire the view as often as possible.”
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