Time and focus are key for a poet’s productivity. This year, English lecturer Ryan Teitman hopes to increase his creative productivity with the help of a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Teitman, who serves as the Emerging Writer Lecturer in the English Department at Gettysburg College, was recently awarded a creative writing fellowship from the NEA to further pursue his passion for poetry in 2013. He was one of 40 poets selected to receive the prestigious award from a pool of over 1,000 eligible applicants nationwide.
“The funding will help take some of the stresses out of everyday life, and getting rid of any extra stress is essential to being a productive writer,” said Teitman.
The NEA awarded 832 grants totaling $23.3 million through its Art Works funding category for 2013. Of that total, $1 million was granted to the 40 creative writing fellowship recipients. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the NEA seeks to fund artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation to benefit both individuals and communities. Creative writing fellowships, like the one Teitman was awarded, have been given out since 1967 and provide writers with financial support to pursue their writing.
Teitman is working on his second book of poems and hopes to finish within the next year. His first book, Litany for the City, was selected as the winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Prize in 2011, and contains several of the poems which Teitman submitted in his application for the NEA grant. Among the ten pages of poetry submitted was “Circles,” which was recently featured in Verse Daily, a popular poetry website that republishes quality poems from literary magazines and books of poetry.
Aside from his success in the poetry world, Teitman has a varied background in writing, editing and teaching. He worked as a newspaper reporter in Philadelphia before going on to earn an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English at Indiana University, where he served as the poetry editor for Indiana Review. His teaching role at Gettysburg College has given Teitman the opportunity to share some of his skills with developing writers.
“I have really enjoyed my time at Gettysburg and would be happy if I ended up at a similar institution,” said Teitman. “This was my first experience teaching at a liberal arts college and I’ve really come to appreciate it.”
Two Sides of Mentorship
The Emerging Writer Lecturer (EWL) position was proposed and designed in 1999 by English Prof. Fred Leebron. The aim of the one-year position is to provide growth and learning to both the students and the instructor.
“As a search committee, we look for someone dedicated to teaching and evidencing a strong record in publishing,” said Leebron. “We help take that person to the next level of teaching—the tenure track—while at the same time offering to our students a fresh voice in both writing and the instruction of writing.”
While the EWL takes on a full course load of teaching each semester, his or her experience at Gettysburg College extends far beyond classroom instruction. Leebron and fellow English Prof. Kathryn Rhett serve as mentors to the EWLs, assisting them with the development of professional materials and providing advice about furthering their writing and teaching careers. They also provide feedback on classroom teaching and help the EWLs to develop their course designs.
“They’ve given me advice on everything—from questions about teaching to job interviews and professional materials,” Teitman said of Profs. Leebron and Rhett. “They are a big part of what makes this position so valuable.”
In addition to receiving mentorship from the English faculty, Teitman also lends his own expertise to the department. This spring, Teitman is using his background as an editor at a literary magazine to offer a class on literary editing and publishing. Students will learn techniques for proofreading and editing, and will have the opportunity to apply those new skills in a tangible way. For their final project, students will team up with a poetry writing class at Shippensburg University, in Shippensburg, Pa., to put together a limited-edition chapbook of the poetry students’ work.
“I’m really excited because [the class] combines the theoretical aspects of literature with the more concrete editing skills,” said Teitman. “Students will take on the role of editors and will get a lot of hands-on experience.”
Teitman and his class will also work with the staff of The Mercury, Gettysburg College’s student art and literary magazine, to assist with proofreading before the magazine’s publication in April.
Because the EWL is a one-year position, Teitman is still considering options for employment next year. Regardless of where he ends up, he credits his time in the English Department at Gettysburg College as helping him to grow as both an instructor and a writer.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Article by: Liz Williams '13, communications & marketing intern
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