Distinguished Visiting Writer named for 2019–20
Oatman High has an M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College. She is the author of more than 10 novels for young adults (many of them written in free verse), and of numerous children’s books, plays for young audiences, and travel essays. Among her many accolades, she’s the winner of a Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Fellowship/PEN America 2014; The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2012; two VOYA “Perfect 10” awards from Voice of Youth Advocates (2009 and 2014); and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award (2002).
Oatman High has taught workshops and classes at thousands of primary and high schools nationally and internationally, as well as at Rutgers University, Manhattanville College, Vermont College, Millersville University, and Penn State.
During Block 7, she will be teaching Writing Young Adult Fiction: Free-Verse Illuminations of Tough Subjects at Cornell College.
During the course, students will explore popular young adult novels tackling challenging subjects and written in free verse by authors such as Sonya Sones, Laurie Halse Anderson, Virginia Euwer Wolff, as well as new work by the Distinguished Visiting Writer herself. Starting with audio poetry and the training of listening skills, and building on writing exercises and prompts, students will develop their skills in writing from the heart and from memories of their lives, and will learn techniques for instilling light and hope in dark stories. The goal of the course is that each student will have at least 20 pages of their own free-verse novel completed by the end of the block, with a significant section polished and revised. A “Keep Cornell Lit” free-verse reading celebration will be held at the end of the block.
Each year The Center for the Literary Arts brings in distinguished writers to teach topic-based, upper-level creative writing courses. The writers rotate among fiction, poetry, journalism, creative nonfiction, children’s literature, and a range of other topics. While on campus, the writers also give public readings or lectures.