Melvin Jules Bukiet

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. MFA, Columbia University. Author of Sandman’s Dust, Stories of an Imaginary Childhood, While the Messiah Tarries, After, Signs and Wonders, Strange Fire, and A Faker’s Dozen; editor of Neurotica, Nothing Makes You Free, and Scribblers on the Roof. Works have been translated into a half-dozen languages and frequently anthologized; winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award and other prizes; stories published in Antaeus, The Paris Review, and other magazines; essays published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers. SLC, 1993–

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Writing

First-Year Studies: Writing Workshop

Open, FYS—Year

Some people say, “Can writing be taught?”—but what they really mean is, “Can inspiration be taught?” The answer is, as the skeptics smugly assume, “No.” Yet habits that help serve inspiration are within our control. Frankly, those habits are pretty simple. Here’s one for free: Don’t touch the “send” button until a manuscript is as good as you can make it. After you write it, read it. After you read it, revise it. Then do that again. And again. Until you vomit. Easy to say. Not so easy to do. You have to build strong literary muscles. There are dozens of similar principles that are not a matter of abstract knowledge but of specific practice. That’s why I don’t believe that students are empty vessels to be filled. Instead, I think of them as lumps of wet clay to be molded and fired by themselves—with the help of faculty—into whatever shape vessel they wish. If you enjoy story and enjoy language and have a hide as tough as a petrified rhinoceros, you might wish to take this class. We will have weekly conferences until October, then biweekly.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Writing

Fiction Workshop

Open, Seminar—Year

Some people think that all classes—especially writing classes—should be “safe.” I don’t. I prefer danger. Only by risking failure can anyone learn. I want students to care about what they write and how they write; and if the consequences of caring include anxiety, trepidation, and night sweats, so be it. Oh, class should also be fun. As for the content: You write, I read, we talk. Using student work as examples, we talk about what makes one story dynamic and another dull, what makes one character believable and another implausible, and, mostly, what makes one sentence sing and another croak.

Faculty

Writing Workshop

Open, Seminar—Fall

Teachers run workshops, but students determine the content of the workshops and the tenor of their discourse. That’s because stories can pursue either personal concerns or public issues. Stories may be psychological or philosophical. A few emerge from history, others from science. Though nearly every academic discipline can be represented within fiction, M. H. Abrams famously divided the arts into two categories: those that aim to replicate the world by using a mirror and those that aim to illuminate the world by using a lamp. So amidst a complex range of subjects and perspectives, how is fiction approached in this class? It’s simple. You write. I read. We talk.

Faculty