Those Who Can —

Those who can’t — teach. Or so the expression goes.


I never planned to teach … writing or anything else. From an early age I knew I wanted to be a writer. Yet here I am: Teaching — and writing. I have become a hybrid: A writer/teacher, or a teacher/writer.


By that I mean teaching and writing are no longer separate for me. To teach poetry I have to be a writer. And when I write, I teach. All writers are, in a sense, teachers. Writers educate their audiences, whether it’s about their fiction, their truth or the poem of their soul.


Teaching is also a form of publishing (which means to make public). A teacher publishes her message to her students every day.


One of my teachers, Lucille Clifton, has said she writes to learn — rather than to teach. But even that statement shows how inextricably the processes are linked: teaching/writing/learning.


The word education shares its root with educe; to draw forth. Isn’t that what writing is about … drawing forth a deeper story, a deeper truth?


Even before I became a teacher I’ve always disliked that expression: Those who can’t – teach. But now that it’s what I do, I know for sure that for writers at least, it’s simply not true. I might even change it to: Those who write – must.

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