The Voice informs us that award-winning poet and novelist Fred D’Aguiar has been appointed head of creative writing at the University of California Los Angeles’ English Department.
[. . .] Speaking about his vision for the post he said that the study of creative writing was valuable for students, whether they were aiming to study mathematics, go to medical school, pursue a career in the technology industry, or enter publishing or academia.
A former psychiatric nurse, D’Aguiar’s own creative practice and teaching aesthetic are deeply imbued with a commitment to empathy. He said this was useful in workplaces from Google to Disney, where innovation and creativity rule and are often driven by brainstorming. “In a creative writing course, students learn how to present an idea, when to promote it, when to let go and when to compromise,” he said. “I’m hoping the diversity of our student population will be reflected in and feed the work that comes out of the class. I’m excited about the diverse demographic mix of Los Angeles, how it looks as a visual map of culture.”
Aguiar, who is currently teaching two classes, added: “Exposure to the art of writing — or rather, arts, there are many forms of writing — increases our ability to empathize. That act of feeling connected to the narrative fate of a character on a flat page, if you can empathise with that, it can wake up a dormant ability to empathise with others in the world around you, even when they look, behave or believe differently from you.”
Ali Behdad, professor and chair of the English department, said: “We were impressed by Professor D’Aguiar’s genuine enthusiasm and experience teaching various writing formats and his open interest in the work being done here at UCLA, and are proud to have him at the head of this effort.”
D’Aguiar was born in London in 1960 to Guyanese parents. He spent his childhood in the Caribbean country before returning to the UK in 1972. He later read African and Caribbean studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury.
He has written more than a dozen books of fiction and poetry, which have been translated into a dozen languages. His first novel, The Longest Memory, won the Whitbread First Novel Award and was made into a film for British television. His essays and poetry have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Guardian, Best American Essays and more. His play, A Jamaican Airman Foresees His Death, was produced at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Continental Shelf, a Poetry Book Society Choice, was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2009. His latest poetry collection is The Rose of Toulouse. His latest novel, Children of Paradise, was inspired by the events at Jonestown.
For original article, see http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/award-winning-poet-and-novelist-takes-top-job