A chat with Professor April Bernard
Published: Friday, October 15, 2010
Updated: Friday, October 15, 2010 18:10
April Bernard is an Associate Professor and the director of Creative Writing for Skidmore's English Department. She is also a well-known poet and has published, among other things, four books of poetry, a novel and a screenplay.
Bernard has taught at Barnard, Columbia, Yale, Amherst, Smith and 11 years at Bennington. Her favorite food is broiled chicken.
Skidmore News: Where are you originally from?
April Bernard: I was born and grew up in Williamstown, Massachusetts. But I feel like a displaced New Yorker because I moved there right after college and still miss it.
SN: When did you come to Skidmore and why?
Bernard: I came to Skidmore last year, because it is a great job and Skidmore has a great English department. Also, I am a single mom, and my son went to live with his father, so I have a little more freedom to move around than before.
SN: Why did you decide to become a teacher? Have you done anything besides teaching?
Bernard: Well, I am very much a writer who is lucky to teach. I love teaching and discovered teaching by accident. Unlike most others in the department, I only have a bachelor's degree. Before, I worked as a book and magazine editor for many years. And now I teach to make a living.
SN: How does it feel to have a Wikipedia page?
Bernard: Ha, I don't know who wrote it. I didn't. But the only part I liked is that I know a lot of people don't have one.
SN: What classes are you teaching? What are you working on right now?
Bernard: Right now, I am teaching Shakespeare Poetics, Intro to Poetry and an Advanced Poetry Workshop. I have taught other classes on Chekov, Film Noir, Lit Noir, which I love, Jane Austen, which I am quite done with and various writing workshops. I also just finished a novel.
SN: What type of poetry do you write and who are your favorite poets?
Bernard: Well, I was trained in versification (the theory of phonetic structure of verse), but I have my own forms. And favorite poets? I'll give you the top four: Shakespeare, Hopkins, Wallace Stevens and Bob Dylan.
SN: I know that in your Shakespeare Poetics class, you require students to memorize and recite poetry. Why do you do this?
Bernard: Well, I think it is absolutely essential for educated people to memorize poetry. It is how you own it; it takes residence in your mind. It is very much a lost art and I think one of the ways that we can hold on to poetry.