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December 2011

from my journal

 I was writing about how oftentimes creative writing emerges at the point where students and/or writers feel repressed and constrained by their lived experiences.  Students/writers then write against the grain of that repression and those constraints.  When I was at Albany, other students and a few faculty liked to talk about the nexus of discourse or the the nexus of critical and creative discourse, without talking about the psychological conditions that bring about the nexus or when critical discourse no longer serves to represent what is going on inside the interior, psychological landscape of a person.   Creative discourse is oftentimes a reaction against critical discourse, a blossoming out of the heart and soul from repressed circumstances. This was what was found in Michelle Cliff’s writing – a Jamaican-British mulatto who wrote against the oppressive British schooling that she received.  Her writing was beautiful, evocative and soulful.  She wrote a creative essay entitled, “If I Could Write This In Fire, I Would Write This In Fire” – which evoked the strength she felt from  her anger at what aspects of her personality and experiences as a Jamaican had to be repressed by her British style of education.  But those who talked about the nexus at Albany did not consider the psychological conditions that brought on someone like Michelle Cliff’s writing. And I felt that it was important to call attention to the psychological conditions that produce creative writing in relationship to critical writing so as to understand what enables its production.  It’s not something, in other words, that we can simply ask students to write without having them live through some repressive circumstances.  Yet many students have experienced repressive circumstances in their educational and/or institutional experiences.  I would encourage my students to write about their academic histories and what was beneficial and what was repressive or difficult for them.