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In the fall, as part of the Guest Writers Program that Mathews and faculty member Peter Filkins direct, writing and literature students study the work of contemporary literature giants such as MacArthur “Genius” and National Book Award finalist, Lydia Davis; two-time Man Booker prize winner, Peter Carey; and Pulitzer Prize winning poets, Paul Muldoon and Yusef Komunyakaa, among others. In addition, these writers visit writing classes to connect with students directly. Therefore, Simon’s Rock students are not just exposed to contemporary literature, but are actively engaging with the authors of contemporary literature.Art of Composition pull quote

“A really attractive aspect of teaching at Simon’s Rock is that I can teach both literature and writing courses. And I enjoy that. I like coming into a classroom and sharing work that I love, discussing it, and being a part of that feedback loop,” Mathews says..

Despite the fact that not every student will be the next Amy Hempel or Ernest Hemingway, Mathews strongly believes that all students benefit from learning how to write, and, most importantly, revise. “Everyone can learn to become a better reader and a better critic – and to apply those skills to their own writing. I know writers who can produce great first drafts, but don’t know how to take it to the next stage. And I know writers whose first drafts are a mess, but they know how to keep at it until it’s something special. The purpose of workshop isn’t to identify who’s going to win the Pulitzer Prize someday; it’s to teach students how to produce a story and then come back to it. Sometimes it’s less a course in writing than in rewriting.”

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