Meet the Instructor offers insight into the teaching styles and personalities of our instructors. This time around, we spoke with Tyrese Coleman, who will lead Developing Your Flash Fiction, an intermediate/advanced class that runs from October 22 through December 3.
The Writer’s Center: What brought you to the Writer’s Center?
Tyrese Coleman: I am a The Writer's Center alum. I began my writing career taking courses at the Writer's Center. It was through those courses that I realized I wanted to study creative writing more in depth. I was encouraged by my then instructor to apply to Johns Hopkins, and I haven't stopped writing since. I always wanted to return to the Center to hopefully be for others what my instructor was for me: the encouragement I needed to pursue my dream.
TWC: How would you describe your teaching style?
TC: I believe the cornerstone of good critique is a mix of encouragement, knowledge, and honesty. My style is one that revolves around those principles, with an added touch of humor and diversity. We are adults who want to create something meaningful to share with the world. My teaching style keeps that goal in mind as a concrete point of achievement.
TWC: What are you reading right now?
TC: There are way too many books lingering on my bedside table. I'm currently on 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad, and will then move to Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album by Joan Didion, and Slumberland by Paul Beatty.
TWC: What are you writing right now?
TC: Right now I am working on two projects, one is a short story collection and the other is a hybrid collection of stories and essays. For those collections, I am writing flash fiction and memoir, plus longer pieces for publication in journals.
TWC: What does your writing space look like?
TC: My living room, LOL! I have an office, but I never work in it. In a corner of my living room is a cushy mustard-colored, mid-century styled club chair with a matching lamp above it and a small table right next to it. My laptop rests on a pillow on my lap; any papers or books go on the side table along with a glass of wine. Once my kids are in bed, the only sound you can hear in my living room is the tapping of computer keys and maybe my dog snoring.
TWC: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given and by whom?
TC: Ever? Oh, that's hard to answer because I've received such good advice, and my memory is really bad. So, I will go with the best advice I received recently. I conducted an interview for The Rumpus with another The Writer's Center instructor, Leslie Pietrzyk, who said, "Think about the stories you have inside that scare you. That's what you should be writing." This advice is so crucial for us storytellers who really want to get at the heart of the matter, the brutal truth of life. I hope to challenge my students to write those stories and put them out into the world.
Tyrese L. Coleman is the fiction editor for District Lit, an online journal of writing and art, and a graduate of the Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University. A 2016 Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and Virginia Quarterly Review Nonfiction Scholar, her work has appeared in numerous publications such as PANK, Washingtonian Magazine, The Rumpus, and listed in Wigleaf's Top 50 (very) short fictions.