Classy Talk with Irene Keliher

Posted Fri, 1/10/2014 - 7:18pm by  |  Category:

Taking the Leap: Intro to Personal Nonfiction

People should take this class if… 
They want to get a jump-start on a personal essay or memoir idea, they’re looking for a supportive environment that helps them push ahead with their writing goals, or they’d like to learn some tried-and-true techniques for refining their nonfiction material. Or, all of the above!

Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?
You can find me on Twitter at @IreneKeliher. I admit, I’m actually a terrible tweeter, but I’m working on improving my game.

Are any of your works online and available to the public?
Indeed, several of my published stories and essays are available online. I put up a list on my website.

What’s your teaching philosophy?
I value community, collaboration, and variety. Making personal connections with students is invaluable. I try to balance each class with a mix of discussion, lecture, reading, writing, and sharing (as much as possible). Years of teaching in community college and urban public schools have shown me the importance of humor and flexibility, too.

If you could only bring one novel, story, or poem to a deserted island, which would you bring and why?
How could I ever choose? Maybe a Mary Oliver poem, like The Journey, for fortification. Or maybe something thick and detailed that I’ve meant to read, like Moby Dick or Anna Karenina. Or maybe one of my favorite childhood novels, for comfort, like Anne of Green Gables.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a couple of short personal essays and a novel. Writing nonfiction helps hone my craft and gives my fiction a boost, so I like to alternate. My nonfiction lately mostly centers around being a nonbiological lesbian mom, while my novel is set in a futuristic version of my small Northwest hometown. Pretty different!

If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be? 

Tune out your inner critic and just go for it. Give yourself permission to write poorly, to experiment, to grow.

What do you like best about Hugo House?
The community, hands down. Where else can you find a group of people so committed to reading and writing? It’s a rare and wonderful thing.

What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?
I just finished Kate Atkinson’s novel Life After Life, which was a revelation. I love her detective novels (Case Histories, etc.) and was amazed and thrilled by this new work. I’d pair with a big ol’ glass of red wine to calm nerves while reading.