Zack Rogow is the author, editor or translator of eighteen books and plays, including six collections of poetry, three anthologies, four volumes of translation, and a children's book. His sixth book of poems, The Number Before Infinity, was published by Scarlet Tanager Books in 2008. Twice he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry. He is the author of two plays, including La Vie en Noir: The Art and Life of Léopold Sédar Senghor, which was performed in San Francisco by the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. He is the editor of a recent anthology of U.S. poetry, The Face of Poetry, published by University of California Press: and editor of two volumes of TWO LINES: World Writing in Translation, distributed by University of Washington Press. His translations of George Sand, Colette, and André Breton have won numerous awards, including the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Award and the Northern California Book Award in Translation. His children's book, Oranges, was a Junior Library Guild Book-of-the-Month. He currently also teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and has taught in the writing programs at the University of San Francisco and at San Francisco State University.
I believe that each student has an individual path and project. I feel that my role is first to help a student identify those. I try to get to know each student's background, work, and goals. Then I focus on the areas of greatest vitality in a student's work, and enter into a dialogue with the student to draw attention to that, and to help the student begin to center on areas of strength. I draw on my experience as a professor of creative writing and literature, and on my work as a literary editor.
When I critique a student's work, I try to suggest multiple paths, and to describe the possible results of each choice, rather than to steer a student in one direction. I try not to rewrite students' work for them. My goal is to offer ideas that might be productive for their revisions.
I think it's vitally important to guide students toward reading those writers whose work will create a legacy for them. The writers we identify with become a kind of ancestry for us, and enable us to feel connected to the continuum of human history
I believe in a balance of encouragement and criticism. It's tremendously important for students to feel the approval and support of their faculty members and their peers. I try to begin any critique in a class or in written comments with the positive. I believe that encouragement is one of the most important things a teacher can give a student. Once a foundation of support is constructed, students are ready to receive critical suggestions, and to look more objectively at their own work.
For students in creative writing, I try to suggest ways that students can enter the literary community, so they can continue their work after graduate school. This can involve encouraging them to participate in writers groups, to work on publications and/or literary websites, and to attend readings and conferences. I like to suggest professional opportunities to students when they are ready, such as publication possibilities and openings for reading and presenting their work.
I believe that the student-teacher relationship does not have to end at graduation. I stay in touch as much as possible with former students who are interested in continuing a professional dialogue. I correspond regularly by email with a host of former students, and I am continually on the lookout for opportunities that could enhance the creative work and careers of current and former students.