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Janet Pocorobba

Associate Professor and Interim Director, MFA in Creative Writing

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I am interested in building power and voice with language, and in writing personal stories that push the boundaries of self. I’m obsessed with narrative persona, as well as the narrative modes required to shape a story. I loved braided essays and hybrid memoirs, where the story is larger than the self. Another obsession is creative writing pedagogy, which I work on with writers who want to teach. 

I work with my nonfiction writers via email, on the phone, over Zoom, however they need to work. “Who is this person writing the piece?” I want to know, “and how can I help them fulfill their intention and vision for the work?” I listen carefully—I’m a deeply intuitive writer—because writers often say out loud what they have neglected to say on the page. Speech is important to voice, and to catching the parts of ourselves that we reveal spontaneously and without censure. These are often the most important parts of the story. 

But writing is not just self-expression. The poet Billy Collins said, “Form gives you an enclosed space to work within and keep it from descending into chaos or tantrum. “ We are here not to only say what we must but to find the most effective way to say it. Artfulness comes only when one applies a shape—even in nonfiction. The separation of the author and the narrator is critical. I don’t think that demystifying the writing process has to take the magic out of it. It can add to the awe. 
 
For more information about Janet, visit her website: www.janetpocorobba.com 

Work

Books 
 
The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me (2019) 
 
Work has been published in the Writers’ Digest, Post Road, River Teeth, The Rumpus, Nixes Mate Review, Harvard Review, The Writer, Kyoto Journal, Indiana Review, The Journal, Provincetown Arts, and others. 

Presentations/Readings 

AWP, Grub Street Muse & Marketplace, BGSP, What Cheer Writers’ Club, Boston University, Writers’ Room of Boston, Brown University, Arlington Authors’ Salon, Japan Society of NYC, Harvard Bookstore, Smith College, Phoenix Bookstore, Galaxy Bookshop, Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Porter Square Books, Water Street Books, Vermont Studio Center, and elsewhere 

Awards 

Turkey Land Cove Foundation Artist’s Residency, Vermont Studio Center Artist’s Residency, Bildner Creative Writing Scholarship, Bread Loaf Writing Scholar, Lesley Center for Teaching & Learning Grant 

Affiliations Past & Present 

Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), Authors’ Guild, NYC Center for Nonviolent Communication, Japan Society of Boston, Mud Season Review, Post Road, Writer's Room of Boston, PEN-New England, Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, Grub Street, Simmons University, Lesley University Interdisciplinary Studies Master's Degree Programs, Lesley University Low-Residency Bachelor Completion Program, Japan Society of Boston 

 

Education

  • MA in Psychoanalysis from the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
  • MFA in Creative Writing, Lesley University
  • MA in Linguistics, Northeastern University
  • BA in French Language & Literature, Smith College

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