• 2018 Dates: Session 1, June 24 - July 6; Session 2, July 8-27

  • Look here for the 2018 Student Application after January 1.

Lisa Russ Spaar

Professor, UVA Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Lisa Russ Spaar taught poetry at the Workshop from 1990-95. She has appeared many times since as a Visiting Poet.

Where are you living and what brought you there?

Living in Charlottesville, VA, where I am a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

Where are you working and what do you enjoy about it?

As I mentioned, I teach at UVA.  I love learning, which is probably why I love teaching.  My students continually amaze and inspire me.

What do you find yourself most often reading/listening to lately and why?

Right now I’m reading Emily Dickinson seminar projects and capstone poetry collections and theses written by my students. I’m re-reading Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend.   In my car, I’m alternating between listening to Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables and The Mountain Goats.

What are you working on right now and what does it represent in the larger body of your artistic accomplishments?

I have a new book of poems, Vanitas, Rough, coming out with Persea Books in December 2012, and a collection of essays about contemporary poetry, The Hide-and-Seek Muse (Drunken Boat Media), coming out in early 2013, so I will be working on those manuscripts this summer.  I hope to be making new poems and essays!

What are your publications, performances, albums, and/or achievements that seem most important to you at this point in time?

I’m always most excited about what I’m working on in any present moment—& about the work I have yet to do.  I’m thrilled about the fulfilling paths my children and my former students are taking in their life and work.

How would you characterize the value of your YWW teaching experience in the larger context of who you are as a writer/artist?

I treasure my experience as a master teacher in the YWW.  Among its many gifts are the lasting relationships I have with the students, counselors, other teachers, and staff with whom I was privileged to work.  I was the mother of young children when I taught in the program (I was pregnant with my third child the first year that I taught), and learned much from my time with the YWW about the culture and vitality and challenges of high school-aged people—all things that helped me in inestimable ways when my own children entered the crucible of adolescence.

What’s the best advice you can give a Young Writer (in general or in your specific genre)?

Read.  Pay attention.  Nurture your word jones.  Take risks.  Walk the talk.   Know when to look inward and when to unplug.  In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Where can we find you online?