Eight years ago, I asked my Poetry class at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh about the poems they had written. What inspired them? The class started murmuring and whispering, until one of my bravest students said, “Uh, Professor. Excuse me. We don’t write poems.”

“How do you express falling in love? Or your observations of the natural world?” I asked.

“Music,” they said.

This is why I teach. I want my students to have a broad repertoire of expression. I teach so that they will be able to write all sorts of things: poems, letters to the editor, stories, novels, research papers, blogs, vignettes, essays and letters home. I want them to have a voice in their homes, neighborhoods, regions and on the web. It’s my life’s work to facilitate students in making critical and creative choices through language. I teach so that more people can give utterance to complex ideas.

I focus my teaching around the dilemmas that a writer faces. Sometimes, I look at sentences and lines. Other times, I look at the conceptual arc of a piece. In a warm, enthusiastic way, I pull writers into big conversations and small dissections of the ways in which language shines.

Together, my students and I practice being citizens at work in a civic space. We do this work through my classes in UW’s Integrated Social Sciences, the English Department and in University Honors.