Reading to Inspire Better Writing

Courtesy Vintage International/Jerry Bauer

Ever been so inspired by a book or poem that you've wanted to give writing a try, right then and there? Maxine Hong Kingston, UC-Berkeley professor and author of The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, China Men and Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book hopes to show a few lucky Stanford undergraduates how to jump in and begin writing. This winter, Kingston will inaugurate the Isaac and Madeline Stein Visiting Writers Program, which each year will invite an outstanding author to teach a seminar for one quarter in the English department's creative writing program.

"My plan is to give the students reading that will inspire their writing," Kingston says of Reading for Writers, the course she has designed. "While authors are telling us a story, they are also teaching us how to write that story." Kingston has told interviewers that she is looking for ways to make a nonviolent story more dramatic in her upcoming work, The Fifth Book of Peace, and she says she will use some of her own work to show students the step-by-step process of creating fiction.

Each participating author will be free to tailor the course to his or her interests. In addition, the broader campus will be treated to a public lecture and reading.

Coming next year? Indian writer Vikram Seth, MA '79, whose latest book is An Equal Music.