Monday, September 5, 2016

Reads for Writers: Backpack Literature by XJ Kennedy and Dana Gioia

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          It’s September so I’ve decided to go back to school—well “audit” a writing class using the textbook Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing 4th edition by XJ Kennedy and Dana Gioia. I’m going back to Beginner’s Mind to remember things I’ve forgotten and learn things I never knew.

In the preface, authors Kennedy and Gioia believe:

“…that textbooks should not only be informative and accurate but also lively, accessible, and engaging…read with enjoyment and which will inspire [students] to take their own writing more seriously…” (page xxx)

          I wish I had taken a class like this in college!

          In this textbook, there are short stories, poetry, and plays by many well-known writers including John Updike, Amy Tan, Tim O’Brien, Kate Chopin, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Anna Deavere Smith, and August Wilson along with some classic writers like William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson, and Shakespeare. After reading these pieces, there are questions then writing assignments. This will sharpen my critical thinking and writing skills as well as introduce me to some writers new to me.

          After the questions at the end of each chapter, there is a Writing Effectively section about the chapter’s topic like plot or point of view followed by a Checklist for your writing and then a Writing Assignment as well as More Topics For Writing. I will complete or just review items as I wish since I’m auditing this class.

          If you are a beginning writer or you need assignments and deadlines to get you writing or you just want to hone your skills, this textbook in the 4th, 5th, or any edition may work for you.

I’ll let you know how it’s working for me. There are 30 chapters. My plan is to complete a chapter a week. I’ll post an update of the course as the masterclass post of every month until completion, September through April. Then I will write a summary in May.

I love to read. I love to learn. I love to write. I think I’m going to love this “lively, accessible, and engaging” textbook.

Professionally, I publish on average three book reviews, seven essays, and four articles a month while also working on writing projects. I edit two monthly magazines as well as work as a freelance editor. I’m adding this textbook project to my writing schedule because I believe it will be fun and educational while improving my writing across the board. Writers write! Deadlines rule!

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