Making the Stuff We Want to Make: Video Transcript

Daisy Levy (MA English and emphasis in Creative Writing, Miami, 2005) [associate professor at Southern Vermont College]: When I went to college, I was fairly intimidated at the process of studying creative writing, and so I stayed with the reading route and stuck with the literature degree even though I had this really deep drive. I really just wanted to write. Miami was one of the few programs that was willing to help me make that transition. Another choice, another reason that I made the choice to come to Miami to do that was because I knew that Miami had a powerful reputation for training its graduate student teaching assistants to teach.

I started my creative writing program here, and through the course of my studies, realized that I was not only really interested in creative writing, but I was really interested in performance and ideas about language, and how the way we use language helps us understand the world, and helps us understand who we are, and changes the world.

It was while I was here that I came to feel that I had something unique to offer young people in the classroom. It also really changed how I thought about myself as a writer. It spoke directly to my previous experience, but it also helped me understand how a classroom is also an active, practice-based movement style of learning.

It was not until I came here that I had real live readers that I could look at, and talk to, and ask questions from, and hear about. And that changed everything about the way I even thought about writing. To this day, I would prefer to write with other people than to just sit in a room by myself and write. I don't get much joy from it, and I credit the program here with teaching me what that's about.

I think a liberal arts education is really important for a lot of reasons. I think one, it connects people to a history that identifies understanding the world from a variety of perspectives and trying to make connections across those perspectives. It connects us to our ancestors in ways that we aren't even aware of. But also on a real practical level, I think a liberal arts education teaches us, helps us learn how to be really good thinkers, how to be really good speakers, how to read, how to understand, how to talk to people, and that, I think, is more and more and more important every day.

Creative writing as a degree of study teaches you not just how to write and not just how to create powerful characters and storylines and poems that really reach people's hearts, but it gives you a sense of the complexity of language and the ways that humans use that language. And that, you can translate into all kinds of jobs really easily right now. The world is big and small at the same time, and I think this institution is really committed to helping students find what they want to do and who they want to be, so take every opportunity you can. We have the technology and can access the things that we need to make the stuff that we want to make so much easier than we ever did. A degree in English and creative writing can really empower people to feel like they have those skills, and they have those abilities, so why not make them?

[September 2016]