Interviews with EmersonWRITES Instructors

EmersonWRITES is a free, college-style creative writing program offered to Greater Boston students in grades eight through twelve, taught by current Emerson MA and MFA students. EmersonWRITES fosters individual voices and empowerment through written words, access to opportunities, and self-representation. EmersonWRITES was also featured in this summer’s issue of Community Literacy Journal with a mini-anthology of student work in “Persistence and Creativity: EmersonWRITES Celebrates 11 Years with Young Poets and Writers of Boston.” Due to the pandemic, EmersonWRITES switched to a virtual format, but now, to everyone’s excitement, their in-person program is relaunching.

Teaching creative writing is to teach listening, community building, and how to critically think about art.

—Ghanima Emmanuelle Sol

What is creative writing to you and why is it important to teach it?

Creative writing is the best way I’ve found to stay emotionally and mentally healthy, and also a superb way to figure out how to understand other people and their perspectives and opinions.

What is your favorite page-turner? (What is a book you could not put down, and why?)

I keep coming back to Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban. The way he transforms the English language while simultaneously holding such important philosophical discussions about growing up and finding one’s own way in the world never fails to impress and delight me.

What is/was the best (or your favorite) writing advice that you ever received?

“JUST DO IT!”—Shia LaBeouf. Honestly though, the worst thing that will happen if you try is that it turns out bad. And once it’s bad, you can make it good.

About Sophie:

Sophie Gorjance (she/her or they/them) is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Emerson. She’s been a writer since she was seven and realized that she was actually allowed to put all the things she loved into stories (sharks, aliens, ghosts, etc). While she’s settled on aliens for the moment, she’s eager to work with everyone on their own stories and help them become the best they can be. Born and mostly raised in California, she’s spent most of the last decade in Vermont and is still baffled about why people like winter. 

Twitter: @CaptainGorjance

What is creative writing to you and why is it important to teach it?

For me, creative writing has always been a lifeline, a way to harness a lot of unbridled energy; I started writing stories when I was six, on days when I had to accompany my mom to work, feeling immeasurably bored and lonely. Writing and thinking about other people and possibilities was always a panacea for those idle and terrible feelings. That’s a big part of why I’m passionate about teaching creative writing: the idea of students also realizing that writing can be a tool for empowerment and escapism is so inspiring to me!

What is your favorite page-turner? (What is a book you could not put down, and why?)

A favorite recent page-turner would have to be Writers and Lovers by Lily King. (I’m a little late to the Lily King train, but this book was so tender, and spoke so clearly to the feeling of being a twenty-something wannabe writer in Boston… which I think a lot of us at Emerson can relate to, haha). 

What are you most excited for? Most nervous for?

I’m most excited to read the work of the students in Ghanima’s and my flash fiction workshop, and to get to know all of the students; I’m probably most nervous about how the students are going to be WAY cooler than I am (but actually, I’m more nervous about leading a workshop for the first time!).

About Caitlin:

Caitlin Fisher (she/her/hers) is a second year MFA Fiction candidate and writing instructor at Emerson College. When not teaching and writing, Caitlin can usually be found leading ghost tours in downtown Boston or blasting ‘80s hits in her yellow Volkswagen Beetle. From Haverhill, MA, her writing tends to fuse her love of weird Massachusetts history and magical realism. 

Instagram: @caitlinfisherrr

What is creative writing to you and why is it important to teach it?

It is the ability to express my own ideas, experiences, worries, and hopes I have with communities. Teaching creative writing is to teach listening, community building, and how to critically think about art.

What is your favorite page-turner?

The Prey of Gods! So much chaos, tragedy, redemption, and freedom in one book. I really should reread it again in grad school, to be honest. 

Why did you want to join EmersonWRITES as an instructor?

EmersonWRITES is my opportunity to both teach creative writing and to give back to young writers the same devotion and growth I’ve been privileged to have.

What are your teaching perspectives / personal pedagogy?

I’m interested in how best to create a welcoming environment for marginalized students. I know firsthand how otherizing and disrespectful the current creative writing workshop is and creative writing as a whole does not take our concerns seriously. I don’t want to contribute to that trauma.

What do you hope to gain from your EmersonWRITES experience? What do you hope your students will gain?

I hope myself and the students will gain new tools to use in our writing!

What are you most excited for? Most nervous for?

I’m excited to be in front of a classroom. I’m nervous about flopping in front of everyone.

What recommendations do you have that we should add to our “to-be-read” list?

Who Fears Death, Severance, A Memory Called Empire, and The Song of Achilles!

What is/was the best (or your favorite) writing advice that you ever received?

Write on good days. Write on bad days. Write with a plan. Write blind. Write, write, and write. One word or one million words, simply write!

About Ghanima:

Ghanima Emmanuelle Sol (she/her/hers/fae/faer) is a second year MFA candidate in Fiction at Emerson College. Her devices are clogged with stories of independence, conflict, beauty, and the infinite possibilities in worlds only she has walked on. An offering of coffee is always welcomed. She was born in New Jersey, spent some time in Haiti (hence the accent), and somehow ended up in Massachusetts for graduate school.