Instructor Clark McFerren has been teaching English for over 40 years and through all three editions of Hot Dish Magazine has pushed his students to submit their work. What drives Mr. McFerren to support his students and Hot Dish? We, the editors, asked ourselves this and finally decided to email these questions to Mr. McFerren. Down below are his responses.
What classes do you teach and for what grades?
This year I am only teaching seniors: two classes of British/Western Lit. and one section of AP Lit. and Comp.
What drives you to have your students submit to Hot Dish?
Hot Dish is valuable for at least three reasons:
How do you help your students when they wish to submit a poem or story?
This year I focused on form fitting function, so Hot Dish editors were probably inundated with sonnets, villanelles and sestinas. These forms have well known set rules regarding format, rhyme, word placement and, in the case of the sonnet, meter. I had a few students who have written sestinas and villanelles far superior to any I have attempted. Unfortunately for Hot Dish they were required to send at least one of those forms and they could send others after that in free verse or another format of their choosing. In most cases the rigid forms taught them how to improve their "personal" poetry.
Who is your favorite author or what are your favorite books?
Among my favorite poets I count Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, Stephen Crane, T.S Eliot. Among my favorite authors I count Mark Twain. Dante, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O'Connor, Jane Austen, and C. S. Lewis. For old timers like me Shakespeare is a given in both categories.
Do you have any words of wisdom for young and emerging authors?
I got some advice from Kurt Vonnegut about writing. He had given a reading at the University of Iowa in the late 70s (my memory isn't precise). Afterwards he and a group of grad students went across the street to Joe's, a bar he had frequented when he was in the Writers' Workshop. I was stupid enough to ask his advice. He was drunk, but it was good advice--which I never took. He said, “Somebody always asks that g--damned question. It'll cost you the next round. If you want to be a writer, just write and nothing else."
Now God bless you and get back to class, Clark "Mick" McFerren!
P.S. That next round cost me $15. In today's money that's about $45!