Meet the Instructor offers insight into the teaching styles and personalities of our instructors. This time around, we spoke with Aaron Hamburger, who will lead Words and Wine: Use Your Senses to Improve Your Writing, an all-levels class, on Tuesday, July 26th. He will also lead The Mindful Writing Workshop, an all levels class, over two Thursdays from July 28th through August 4th.
The Writer’s Center: What brought you to the Writer’s Center?
Aaron Hamburger: While flying back from AWP in Boston a few years ago, I happened to be seated next to Genny DeLeon, Stuart Moss, and Zach Fernbock from The Writer's Center. We got to chatting, and the way they described the Center made it sound like a fun and invigorating place to work. So that's how I got hooked, and I've never looked back.
TWC: How would you describe your teaching style?
AH: Profound respect for both the elements of craft and the individual voice of each student. I love reading. I'm passionate about literature, which is why I write, so I love to impart whatever I've picked up about the art of crafting stories and prose in my years of experience as a reader and writer. At the same time, I love teaching because I get to encounter the words and works that other people love, and to get inspired by seeing how each student approaches similar problems of craft, like characterization or setting for example, differently.
TWC: What are you reading right now?
AH: I just finished The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant for my book club, which is about to arrive on my doorstep at any second. I'm also excited to read a YA novel called Speak that a friend recommended. And my niece just gave me Let the Great World Spin by the wonderful writer Colum McCann—plus my nephew gave me The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates. So my bookshelf is full!
TWC: What does your writing space look like?
AH: I have a dedicated room with bookshelves lined with, well, books, plus a desk with a beautiful Moroccan lamp, pictures of people I love, and a postcard with an inspirational quote from the poet Richard Wilbur. And a sign a friend gave me that says: "Nothing is Impossible."
TWC: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given and by whom?
AH: Best piece of writing advice…there are so many! I guess I'll go with what Stephen Sondheim said in the song "Move On," from Sunday in the Park with George: "The choice may have been mistaken, but the choosing was not." So many writers are afraid to make a choice because they're afraid it'll be the wrong one. The funny thing is there is no wrong choice, except not to make a choice. That's why I admire our students at The Writer's Center, because they have all made the choice to put themselves in the ring and put their voices out into the world.
Aaron Hamburger is the author of Faith for Beginners and The View from Stalin’s Head, which was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His writing has appeared in the New York Times and Poets & Writers, among others. He has received fellowships from the Edward F. Albee Foundation and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.