Suzanne Gardinier

BA, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. MFA, Columbia University. Author of 12 books, most recently Amérika: The Post-Election Malas 1-9 (2017), Notes from Havana (2016), Carta a una compañera (2016), Homeland (2011), Iridium & Selected Poems (2010), & Letter from Palestine (2007). Her poetry has appeared in Grand Street, The New Yorker, and the Wolf magazine in the United Kingdom; her fiction in The Paris Review & Fiction International’s “Artists in Wartime” issue; and her essays in The Manhattan Review, The Progressive, & Siècle 21 in Paris. Served on an American Studies Association Panel called “American Jews, Israel, & the Palestinian Question,” and as resident director of the Sarah Lawrence College study abroad program in Havana. A recipient of awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation. SLC, 1994–

Undergraduate Courses 2019-2020

Writing

Nonfiction Workshop: To Tell the Truth

Open , Seminar—Year

This yearlong class will explore the mysteries of reading and writing what has been called “nonfiction,” focusing particularly on questions around what has been called lying and what has been called telling the truth. Was Toni Morrison right when she said our minds have an “antipathy to fraud”? Does lying have a syntax? What are the cultural contexts, nourishments, and manipulations that may affect what happens between a writer or reader and a drafted or published sentence? Is it possible to identify a lie in print? When you write, is it possible to lie less? Is it possible to “tell the truth”? In conference, we’ll discuss drafts of student work; in class, in light of the questions above and as a way of guiding our own makings, we’ll discuss readings that may include the work of June Jordan, Graham Fuller, Teju Cole, Wallace Stegner, Dionne Brand, William F. Buckley, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, and Bertolt Brecht—with the work of James Baldwin throughout. You’ll be expected to attend class, respond to assigned and suggested readings, and participate in discussions. By the end of the first semester, you’ll have written at least five pages exposing a lie in print and have given a brief presentation on your process; by the end, you’ll have produced 20 pages of publishable nonfiction in whatever form you choose. The only prerequisites are a passion for reading that equals your passion for writing and a willingness to undertake whatever might be necessary to read and write better on our last day of class than on our first.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Previous Courses

Poetry Workshop: The Dead and the Living

Workshop—Spring

In this class we'll discuss how to draw on the inspirational powers of other poets: the living, as proposed by you, and the dead, as proposed by me. Each week, someone in the class will assign, present, and suggest an exercise based on the work of a living poet—and each week, I'll do the same based on the work of someone dead. Our choices will be made after our introductory discussions to figure out the powers, needs, and interests of the poets in the room. Along the way, we'll develop a critical language together in which to talk about poetry of any description, acquire tools of our own inspired by the inventions of others, do some in-class workshop discussion of drafts (but not too much), and broaden our sense of the range of what poetry is and can do. Drafts will be discussed in detail in conference. You'll get experience in teaching a class as well. The only prerequisites are a desire to be challenged, a thirst for reading that equals your thirst for writing, and a willingness to undertake whatever labors might be necessary to read and write better on our last day of class than on our first.

Faculty

First-Year Studies in Poetry: The Making of the Complete Lover

Open , FYS—Year

The known universe has one complete lover, and that is the greatest poet. —Walt Whitman

This class will be a yearlong introduction to the ways and means of making poetry, from the most concrete to the least: the word, the line, the image, the sonnet, the ghazal, the blues, prescience, truth, revision. Our text will be an anthology of 99 great poems according to me, from ancient Sumer to the present, called “Love the Wild Swan,” supplemented by poems your tastes will add to our mix. We will not discuss drafts of student work in class but in conference; in class, we'll discuss the mysteries of poems that we love as a way of figuring out how to make new poems in dialogue with them. You will be expected to attend class, engage with assigned and suggested readings, participate in discussions, and, by the end of the course, produce: (a) a short critical essay on a poem; (b) a short biographical sketch of a poet; (c) a 20-page anthology of poems, with introduction; and (d) a 10-page chapbook. The only prerequisites for this class are a passion for reading that equals your passion for writing and a willingness to undertake whatever might be necessary to read and write better on our last day of class than on our first.

Faculty

Nonfiction Workshop: To Tell the Truth

Workshop—Spring

Hannah Arendt, quoting Kafka in Men in Dark Times: “It is difficult to speak the truth, for although there is only one truth, it is alive and therefore has a live and changing face."


This class will explore the mysteries of writing what has been called “nonfiction,’ focusing particularly on questions around what has been called lying and what has been called telling the truth. Was Toni Morrison right when she said our minds have an “antipathy to fraud”? Does lying have a syntax? What are the cultural contexts, nourishments, and manipulations that may affect what happens between a writer and a drafted or published sentence? What’s the difference between a lie that illuminates the truth and a lie that obfuscates or tries to extinguish it? Can popular writing lie? Is it possible to “tell the truth”? We will discuss drafts of student work in conference; in class, we’ll discuss readings, in light of the questions above, as a way of guiding our own makings. Our readings may include the work of James Baldwin, Anne Carson, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Jamaica Kincaid, Dionne Brand, Aimé Césaire, Adrienne Rich, June Jordan, Edward Said, Hannah Arendt, and Teju Cole, as well as that of Wallace Stegner, Henry Kissinger, William F Buckley Jr., and the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture. You will be expected to attend class, engage with assigned and suggested readings, participate in discussions, and, by the end of the class, produce 20 pages of publishable nonfiction. The only prerequisites are a passion for reading that equals your passion for writing and a willingness to undertake whatever might be necessary to read and write better on our last day of class than on our first.

Faculty