Richard Jackson has published twenty two books including thirteen books of poems, most recently Traversings (Anchor and Plume) Retrievals (C&R Press, 2014), Out of Place (Ashland, 2014), Resonancia (Barcelona, 2014, a translation of Resonance from Ashland, 2010), Half Lives: Petrarchan Poems (Autumn House, 2004), Unauthorized Autobiography: New and Selected Poems (Ashland, 2003), and Heartwall (UMass, Juniper Prize 2000), as well as four chapbook adaptations from Pavese and other Italian poets. He has translated a book of poems by Alexsander Persolja (Potvanje Sonca / Journey of the Sun) (Kulturno Drustvo Vilenica: Slovenia, 2007) as well as Last Voyage, a book of translations of the early-20th-century Italian poet, Giovanni Pascoli, (Red Hen, 2010). In addition, he has edited the selected poems of Slovene poet, Iztok Osijnik. He also edited nearly twenty chapbooks of poems from Eastern Europe. His own poems have been translated into seventeen languages including Worlds Apart: Selected Poems in Slovene. He has edited two anthologies of Slovene poetryand Poetry Miscellany, a journal.
He is the author of Dismantling Time in Contemporary American Poetry (Agee Prize), and Acts of Mind: Interviews with Contemporary American Poets (Choice Award). His poems have been translated into over 15 languages. He was awarded the Order of Freedom Medal for literary and humanitarian work in the Balkans by the President of Slovenia for his work with the Slovene-based Peace and Sarajevo Committees of PEN International. He has received Guggenheim, NEA, NEH, and two Witter-Bynner fellowships, a Prairie Schooner Reader's Choice Award, and the Crazyhorse prize, and he is the winner of five Pushcart Prizes and has appeared in Best American Poems ‘97 as well as many other anthologies. Originator of VCFA’s Slovenia Program, he was a Fulbright Exchange poet to former Yugoslavia and returns to Europe each year with groups of students. He has been teaching at the Iowa Summer Festival, The Prague Summer Workshops, and regularly at UT-Chattanooga (since 1976), where he directs the Meacham Writers' Conference. He has taught at VCFA since 1987. He has won teaching awards at UT-Chattanooga and VCFA. In 2009 he won the AWP George Garret Award for teaching and writing.
- PhD, Yale University
- MA, Middlebury College
- BA, Merrimack College
Research and Creative Interests: Working on a book of poems; a book of responses by American poets responded to a Slovene painters' responses to Emily Dickinson; working on translations of Italian poets. Lately I have been investigating parallel responses by writers and artists to wars.
Teaching Interests: Creative Writing (poetry), Romantic Literature, Literature in Translation, Translation Workshop, World Lit and Philosophy
Teaching Approach: My classes are all discussion. I don't lecture except for maybe a 10 minute snippet here and there. I 'teach' to learn, not to proclaim,I want to participate in a process of learning and discovering with students. So the classes and office discussions are for me the norm. I don't generally give or rely on tests: I can generally tell who is reading and who is not without a quiz or test. Discussions reveal a lot, and so do papers which I keep short and concise. I never use old notes but reread everything as if for the first time so it is fresh and I'll see new things and keep engaged. I figure if I am engaged it is the best way to engage the students. I like to ask questions but seriously do not have any specific answers in mind they are real questions and I want to hear what students think. It also lets me know how engaged they are in a text or in creative writing, their own work, how invested they are in it.
Why did you become an English professor? I love to read, sure, but I could do that on my own. I love sharing ideas I have, but even more I love listening to ideas students have, learning from them. Part of my basic evaluation of a class is how much I myself have learned; I hope that if I am learning something they are too. In guess I became a professor to learn more, and my students usually have much to teach me in their unique takes on the material. A university is a great place, maybe the best place to have this sort of exchange. Coffee shops are also good.
Why teach? I think the question above may answer some of this. Additionally, I don't see myself as a "teacher" but as Heidegger says, someone who "lets learn." I like to 'teach' creative writing because it allows students to discover new ways to use language which is a way to discover new feelings and ideas, and so a new sense of self. Many of those poetry students, all who applied, went on to win fellowships and assistantships in grad school, and many used their basis in language and poetry to go on and write novels and CNF, and one is writing TV scripts. I like to teach Humanities and literature because it is full of those discoveries itself, and leads to further discoveries among ourselves, both teacher and student. To me that is the value of reading, teaching, learning discover what you didn't know. I want the courses to facilitate that.
What do you expect of students? In literature, I want students to engage texts both intellectually and passionately; in creative writing I am looking not only for some creative spark but a drive, some intensity. I don't trust tests but prefer to engage in discussion and through brief, concise (but loaded) papers. I know some people pride themselves on being 'tough' but I don't think that has much to do with how much you let students learn in their own unique ways. I want to help facilitate students on their various roads to discover new ideas, new selves. That's the ideal anyway. Basically I guess I grade on improvement and engagement.
Outside of being a professor, what do you do for fun and/or relaxation? I like to hike and bike. We often head to the Smoky Mtns or the Cumberland Plateau. I love to travel and see new places, meet new people, but it is also fun to return to a place Tuscany and Slovenia are my favorites and see people who have become friends over the years. I also love to cook, Italian for one, but love to pull things at random from the fridge and see what can be done with them. Surprisingly, it often works. I am also a TV addict I have several shows I watch like Homeland, House of Cards, The Blacklist, Ray Donavan, some crime dramas, but also Big Bang Theory. I listen to a lot of music jazz, opera, and people like Dylan, Bright Eyes, Clash, Civil Wars, the Stones, Decembrists, Bare Naked Ladies, even some classic country - a strange brew of things really.
What's something about you that might surprise your students? I collect ball caps have about 50 or more. I love and appreciate good wine, especially Brunello and Barolo, both Italian. I used to be more of a jock baseball, hockey, track (sprints), football, and played in a softball league here for a couple of years: centerfield. I have worn a tie maybe 10 times in the last 25 years and find them a curious appendage.