Creative Writing Field Professor Talks About DePauw and Why We Write

Lee Ann Roripaugh, Mary Rogers Field and Marion Field-McKenna Distinguished University Professor for Creative Writing, has been invited to DePauw University to teach a course in poetic writing in the spring of 2022.

According DePauw websitethe Mary Rogers Field and Marion Field-McKenna Professorship Emeritus “brings nationally recognized and practicing writers to DePauw as visiting faculty members” with an endowment from J. David Field.

Joe Heithaus, an English professor, said the creative writing faculty recommends a writer to the vice president of academic affairs each year.

“We’ve tried over the years to honor every genre of creative writing by finding creative fiction writers, poets, nonfiction writers, and a renowned playwright,” Heithaus said.

According to Heithaus, the chair has brought nationally renowned writers to the English department. The list includes fiction writers like Antonya Nelson and Rick Bass, creative non-fiction writers like Ian Frazier and Dinty Moore, and poets Rodney Jones and Marilyn Chin.

“We recently discovered that our first field president, poet Crystal Williams, is now president of the Rhode Island School of Design,” Heithaus said.

It was an honor for Roripaugh to join the list of writers serving as DePauw field teachers. “DePauw has such an amazing creative writing program. The professors here are all incredibly well-published and diverse and exciting writers,” she said.

Prior to teaching a semester at DePauw, Roripaugh was a professor of creative writing at the University of South Dakota. She said the school has a creative writing track at the undergraduate level that’s built on a traditional English curriculum, but there isn’t the opportunity to take as many English courses. creative writing that DePauw offers.

At DePauw, Roripaugh teaches a 300-level class in poetic writing that explores the relationship between poetic form and content. His students tackle questions about the potential form of a poem, how form and content work together, and more.

Roripaugh thinks DePauw students are “fantastic”. “It’s just exciting to see the kind of work that springs from these different kinds of artistic or formal challenges. So that’s been awesome,” she said.

Speaking about the meaning of creative writing, Roripaugh thinks it changes the relationship with language on a personal level. “When you do explanatory or academic writing, it’s a very particular form. And the linguistic register, and it’s a kind of formula, and of course, it’s less personal. But when you’re doing creative writing, you really become very attentive to each individual word choice, or if you want to add a comment or take a copy,” Roripaugh said.

Even if the students don’t end up being creative writers, according to Roripaugh, the relationship they establish with the language improves their writing skills and allows them to express themselves authentically.

For Roripaugh, creative writing allows her to be her best self and it’s a privilege to be able to express herself through writing. She thinks it exposes us to various points of view because it gives the opportunity to read and understand things we have never experienced before.

“I think it’s a place where you can learn radical empathy and radical compassion,” Roripaugh said. “Writing can then act as a mirror in which you may not have had the experience of seeing your points of view, or your experience is reflected back to you… There is this feeling of feeling seen, heard or authorized. And I think those two things are so important as we kind of grow as human beings.