Dr. Kristine Ervin, WCU English professor, has gotten multiple pieces published now, with another piece being published in the fall in the literary journal, Brevity.
A chapter of hers got published in the Crab Orchard Review, and it was named a “notable essay” to read. She hopes to finish writing her memoir by winter break.
As much as she loves writing, she’d give it up for her love of teaching. Dr. Ervin first taught at NYU with a classroom of only 12 students, and then later taught at Houston Community College.
It was a very diverse campus with international students and students from all different financial backgrounds.
She said it was “enlightening to have so many different views and perspectives in the classroom.”
After taking a year off, she got a job at West Chester University. With an MFA in poetry and a Ph. D. in creative literature with a focus on nonfiction, she was the perfect fit for what the university was looking for at the time.
In second grade, after the death of her mother, many of her teachers would go out of their way to spend time with her and help. One teacher in particular would take her to her house and help out.
It was a different time then, when taking a student home wasn’t considered strange. “That type of care and concern and connection that went beyond the classroom inspires my teaching and makes me really enjoy getting to know students because those teachers impacted my life in such a way,” Dr. Ervin said.
Her favorite part about teaching though is when a student understands a concept that they were struggling with, that lightbulb moment.
“You have that moment when the student gets it and you can see it on his or her face and you see that moment where they’re proud and they’re finally able to do better on their essay… there’s something about that moment I love quite a lot,” she said.
She also loves frustrating her students and making them realize that not everything is just black and white, but rather complicated.
She admits to being a tough grader and worries that her strength in connecting with students makes it so they may not learn as much. But when she walks into her classroom and students are discussing the course material before class begins, it’s evident that sufficient teaching has been done.
“It’s pretty wonderful to see and wonderful to see the creative work.” It’s common to be in her classroom debating over a piece that she assigned, with everyone having different thoughts and opinions about it. It’s that creative process and workshop that helps to teach students. For writing advice, she simply says, “Don’t do what I do.” It’s important to not procrastinate and to make writing a routine, but instead she is a binge-writer.
She stresses the importance of reading and having a community to give her writing to so that she can receive feedback, and that is important for any writer.
When plagued with writer’s block, she’s got a bowl of rocks by her side when writing to hold and play with; something to keep her hands busy is something that can help a writer.
For the nonfiction writer, it can be difficult to know when the work is done. If the piece is about life experiences, life is never done, so material can be added everyday.
What’s important is finding the purpose to a piece. “Once you figure out your writing’s purpose and meaning that you want to create, then it becomes about selecting the best material to achieve that meaning and it becomes finite,” she said.
Dana Perkiss is a fourth-year student majoring in English writing with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at DP785965@wcupa.edu.