Robert Anthony Siegel
MFA, University of Iowa, 1992
BA, Harvard University, 1983
2012 Pushcart Prize
2009-10 North Carolina Arts Council Literature Fellowship
1992-93 Writing Fellowship, Fine Arts Workcenter at Provincetown
1992 Michener-Engle Fellowship, University of Iowa
1983-85 Mombusho Fellowship, Japanese Ministry of Education, Tokyo, Japan
In my view, good fiction is always driven by emotion, so as a writing teacher, my primary goal is to help students clarify and strengthen the emotional forces in their work. But I have other interests that cluster around this goal. I started out with a somewhat scholarly focus, studying Japanese literature in college and then in graduate school in Japan. One result of that early experience is that I’m very interested in the ways in which writers can learn from other cultures. I’m also interested in the role writers can play in bridging the gaps between cultures through translation and other forms of interchange. In 1994, I helped start the Korean Studies Publication Project, based at SUNY Stony Brook, which produces scholarly books on Korea. My experience there was valuable for a number of reasons—I learned a lot about editing and a lot about translation—but it also left me with a new-found enthusiasm for the business of publishing. The great fun of teaching at UNCW is that I get to combine these disparate interests with my love of fiction.
Henry James called the novel “that baggy monster” because it can hold just about anything anyone wants to put in it, and the same can probably be said about writing workshops. Personally, I find it hard to talk about issues of craft without addressing the creative process, and hard to talk about the creative process without considering what it’s like to live like a writer—by which I mean the patience, ingenuity and openness to experience that the writing life requires. The great thing about the workshop method is that it allows us to step back and consider these things as they become relevant, while nevertheless keeping us anchored in the specifics of a given piece of writing.
Listen to Robert reading June 20, 2008,
as a part of the Authors@Google series.