How I Write Series

About How I Write

Host Hilton Obenzinger brings faculty and advanced writers from across the disciplines to explore the nuts and bolts, pleasures and pains, of all types of writing. In conversation with his distinguished guests, Hilton examine writers' habits, idiosyncrasies, techniques, trade secrets, hidden anxieties, and delights. We will discuss how a writer generates ideas, sustains large-scale projects, combines research with composition, overcomes various impediments and blocks, and cultivates stylistic innovations. Writing communities share experiences (even bad ones), so that all writers can learn and grow; Stanford is an exceptionally rich community for gaining such insights.

How I Write Events

From 1968 through 2002, Albert Gelpi taught American literature, particularly American poetry, from its Puritan beginnings to the present day. Gelpi’s books include Emily Dickinson: The Mind of the Poet and The Tenth Muse: The Psyche of the American Poet, which centers on American Romantic poetry; its sequel, A Coherent Splendor: The American Poetic Renaissance, 1910–1950, continues the historical argument by relating American Modernist poetry to its Romantic antecedents. He is also the author of Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis and has edited The Poet in America 1650 to the Present; Wallace Stevens: The Poetics of Modernism; Denise Levertov: Selected Criticism; and (with Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi) Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose. With Robert Bertholf he edited The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov. His latest book is American Poetry After Modernism: The Power of the Word, and his next project is the selected prose of C. Day Lewis, The Golden Bridle. This event is free to the public on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 in Lathrop Library, Bishop Auditorium at 7:30 pm.

Ian Morris

Ian Morris is a Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and a member of the Stanford Archaeology Center faculty. He has published thirteen books and more than a hundred articles in academic journals and newspapers. His book Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future received three literary awards, was named as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Economist, Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, Nature, the Evening Standard, and other periodicals, and has been translated into thirteen languages. His most recent book, War! What Is It Good For?, was recently published, and his next book, Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Values Evolve, will be published in 2015. This event is free to the public on Monday, May 11th, 2015 at 7:30 pm. Location to be announced.

Picture of Harriet Chessman

Harriet Scott Chessman is the author most recently of the acclaimed novel The Beauty of Ordinary Things, the story of the unexpected love between a young Vietnam veteran and a Benedictine nun. Her other books include the novels Someone Not Really Her Mother, Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper, and Ohio Angels as well as The Public Is Invited to Dance, a book about Gertrude Stein. Her fiction has been translated into ten languages. She has taught literature and writing at Yale, the Bread Loaf School of English, and Stanford Continuing Studies. She received a PhD from Yale. This event was held on on May 7th, 2014.

Author of Numerous books and articles on literature and women's history, including Maternity, Mortality, and the Literature of Madness and Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women's Memory. Marilyn Yalom is a senior Scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. This event was held on Wednesday, February 19th, 2014.

Photo of Diane di Prima

Di Prima is a Feminist Beat poet, who has published more than forty books. Her poetry collections include This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards, Revolutionary Letters, the long poem Loba (hailed by many as the female counterpart to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl), Seminary Poems, and Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems. This event was held on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013.

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Watch or listen to How I Write conversations available via Stanford on iTunes. You can also view transcripts for selected How I Write conversations