Alex Quinlan’s poetry has appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, among other places, and can be found in the current issue of the Tampa Review. He has received prizes from the AWP Intro Journals Project and the Academy of American Poets, among others. An essay on the poet Charles Simic appears in a recent edition of the Dictionary of Literary Biography, and an interview with the poet David Kirby is forthcoming in Birmingham Poetry Review. He has been editor-in-chief of The Southeast Review, as well as a contributing editor at Tusculum Review. His reviews have appeared in The Southeast Review and Scout: Poetry in Review.
- B.A., English and Philosophy, Berry College
- M.F.A., Poetry, Washington University in St. Louis
- Ph.D., English, Florida State University
Research and/or Creative Interests
My recent poems explore what you might call a cultural archaeology of the self: an exploration in language of the way the private realm of personal experience (often my own) is connected to and interacts with the larger world and with history.
I have research interests in contemporary poetry and poetics, literary editing and publishing, pedagogy, creativity, and cultural studies.
Creative writing and Literature
I bring my passion for writing and for literature to my teaching; at the same time, I place at the center of each course my students and their experiences with the texts, ideas, and practices we encounter and engage. I want my students to understand that failure is not a bad thing, that it is in fact necessary, especially in creative pursuits, so I encourage them to take risks. The worst that can happen is we all learn something.
As far as methods go, I try to lecture as little as possible. Class discussions, which are more frequent, are often guided by student questions. I frequently use in-class writing exercises because they're such great tools for reflection, idea-generation, or to prime us for discussion. In writing classes, we use class time for individual conferences to discuss work in progress.
Why did you become an English professor?
Because I love to write. There are many reasons why I have remained an English professor, but the origin lies in my passion for writing, and reading, poetry. I also understand that, if we are to achieve our potential, it is essential for writers to be in community with one another, which is why, as a professor, I'm grateful for the honor and privilege to be part of the community of writers and scholars comprised of the students and faculty in our department.
Why teach X?
"There is another world and it is this one," said Paul Éluard. Above all others, the reason I teach creative writing and literature is because I believe there is inherent value in experiencing the world-within-this-world that a work of imaginative writing represents. I've had plenty of students who went on to become writers with publication records and graduate degrees to match, and I love nothing more than bragging about all the wonderful things they do. Most of my students, though, have gone on to do other things, and while they're busy being the best musician or therapeutic dietetic specialist or actuary they can be, there's the possibility for a whole new depth to every moment of that existence because of their experience with literature and with writing. It's a new way of seeing. It rubs off on the world.
Outside of being a professor, what do you do for fun and/or relaxation?
I like to stay active and to be outdoors. Recently, I've fallen in love with the natural movement approach to fitness, which is basically just a bunch of rolling around, running, jumping, lifting heavy things, throwing things, and generally acting a fool out in the woods--all in the name of physical education. Not only is it incredibly fun and challenging in itself, but it keeps me in good enough shape that I can hit the basketball court or play some volleyball when I'm not chasing my two young sons around.
What are your expectations of students?
Carl Rogers argues that "the only person who is educated is one who has learned how to learn and change." This is my expectation, and this is what I want for my students. I expect them to be open, to bring something closer to their whole selves to our class and their education. I believe and expect that as a result they, and I, will be transformed into better versions of ourselves.
What's something about you that might surprise your students?
I'm married to my high school sweetheart.