Monday, July 15, 2019

Teaching magical realism at Fresno State as part of the CSU Summer Arts program

For four wonderful days (July 6 – 9), I was a guest author at Fresno State as part of the annual California State University’s Summer Arts program where I co-taught a course titled “Writing Magical Realism and Slipstream” (with co-instructors Lesley Nneka Arimah, Ryka Aoki and Kimberly Dark). The class was shaped and moderated by the poet Brandi Spaethe. My time in Fresno was indeed magical!

What is CSU Summer Arts? Well, let me allow the program’s sponsors to explain:

To some, it’s an arts program where students learn and teachers teach. To others, it’s an opportunity to see, hear and experience their favorite disciplines of art and explore mediums they aren’t so familiar with. At its core, CSU Summer Arts is an international summer arts program of master classes and a festival of the arts. It’s a place where profound learning and entertainment converge, creating an inspired educational environment. A place where students live, work and learn alongside world-renowned professionals. A place where the nightly arts festival gives the public a glimpse into this life-changing work. A place where art is inspired and people are passionate. Everyone who touches CSU Summer Arts—from staff to patrons, faculty to students—is changed. Our goal is that those who join us feel inspired, hopeful and determined to keep the arts alive.

Well said! And I must say that I think I got as much—if not more—out of my four days teaching my class as they did. My students were inventive, thoughtful, kind, funny, and just plain wonderful. When I got there, they’d already been working hard for over a week and I could see their fatigue. But their enthusiasm never flagged, and I loved reading and hearing their written assignments. I am a better writer and person because of the experience.

I want to thank the students, Brandi Spaethe, and all of the people who planned and funded this remarkable arts program. Check them out! 

So, without further ado, let me share some wonderful images from my time there. I hope I will be invited again.

Brandi Spaethe and Daniel Olivas.

One of the highlights was a field trip to Kings Canyon along with the dance class. They danced among the redwoods and my students were inspired to write magical realism pieces about what they saw.

And of course college wouldn't be college without a late night boba run! We settled into the booths to enjoy a cool beverage (remember, we were in Fresno during July) to discuss writing. One of my students, Val, event took time to write a little poetry.

On my second day, I had the opportunity to read several of my short stories to my students and other members of the community.

My students stayed happy and engaged the entire time...they truly inspired me, and I look forward to reading their work when they get published.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

So glad to hear you enjoyed your experience at CSU Summer Arts! We were thrilled to have you. Wishing you continued success.