Top Ten Reasons You Should Take My “Where’s the Camera” class this summer at the Literacy Institutes at the University of New Hampshire. 

1. Because we are going to talk about films and photos and how perspective changes when the camera angle changes. We are going to look at specific techniques and talk about how those angles and perspectives are vital in written work as well.

2. And then we are going to forget everything technical and just write. You can’t analyze and create at the same time. So we’ll have the creative class equivalent of a “mullet” haircut: business in the front, party in the back.

3. One word: Chinatown. Think you know point of view? Wait till we talk about how the director uses perspective and point of view for Jack Nicholson’s iconic character.

4. Several words: shorts stories and poems! Yes, we’ll read stories and poems that center around the world of film. We’ll examine how we as a culture are film-literate in surprising ways. We’ll discuss how being film-literate is not always a good thing for readers. We’ll talk about why “When I read this it felt very cinematic” is often a code for “The story moves in a way that is familiar to me, but somewhat unsatisfying as a piece of writing.”

5. We will discuss our film literacy narratives—and how the points-of-view in those narratives shape how we see narratives of all kinds.

6. We’ll talk about how point-of-view can lead to discussions of all sorts of “perspectives” writers can assume when writing. This will be an excellent source of potential subject matter for writing classes of all kinds. If you can find out the best position for the camera in your story, essay, critical analysis, research paper, opinion piece, poem—then you’ll be confronting one of the most important choices a writer can make.

7. We will laugh a lot. Actually, I should rephrase that: I will laugh a lot. Whether or not you laugh is up to you. But I’m terribly funny.

8. Because of community! We’ll become a very short-lived intentional community of educators, writers, and film-viewers. Who doesn’t need more community?

9. Because art. Because art. Because art. We’ll talk about art! We all need more art in our lives. Come talk about why perspective and point-of-view is important to art.

10. Because if you come to my class, the cosmos will align in unforeseen ways and you just might win the lottery. Yes, the big money lottery. The Powerball, even. You’ll be rich and powerful beyond your wildest dreams. I’m not allowed to promise you a big cash windfall if you come to my class, but I “promise you” that if you come to my class, you will become fabulously wealthy.

– Note: the views on lotto winnings are solely the views of the author. The University of New Hampshire and the Literacy Institutes neither endorse nor support such obvious nonsense. Still, they hope you will come take this class. Rumor has it that George Clooney will make a personal appearance.

– Note: George Clooney and his representatives would like to take this moment to state that Mr. Clooney is a terribly busy and handsome man and that he probably won’t be traveling to New Hampshire to make any personal appearances. He hopes that you’ll take time out of your busy schedules, however, to see his summer sci-fi epic, Tomorrowland.



If you ask a poem who starred in Ghostbusters II or who directed it or who wrote the screenplay, you won’t get a straight answer. It will sit quietly by itself on the far edge of the couch before leaning over to whisper something into the gutter. You’ll be tempted to move close to the poem, push aside whatever punctuation holds it in place, and shout, “What did you say? Do you know who directed Ghostbusters II or not?” The poem will retreat and plead with the other poems for assistance. You’ll end up taking its shoulders and shaking it as though one might a panicky character in the Poseidon Adventure. “Tell me, dammit. Tell me what I want to know! I want to know who directed the movie. I want to know how to install a U-joint in a drain. I want to know if this Kohler cast iron sink is the best product in its price range. I want to know where I can find the best Thai restaurant in Hartford. I want to know where I can find photos of women in red leather dropping feathers on men wearing seersucker suits. I want to know why a fourteen dollars service fee was charged to my account when my minimum balance was clearly within banking parameters.” You’ll be shouting, of course, pressing your thumbs against opposite margins, the paper crinkling under pressure. You’ll think, why am I even asking a poem? You’ll thump a confused finger against the page, saying, “You. Can’t. Tell. Me. What. I. Want. To. Know.” On the last word, your finger comes to rest on the word “apple.” You haven’t been thinking of apples, haven’t eaten an apple since—well, you can’t remember when you last ate an apple. The word apple glows on the page, perhaps catching a little afternoon sunlight coming through the Venetian blinds. And maybe it’s the light conjuring the image of your mother, not the word apple, not something rising from the poem, just the light encasing the apple in a fine bright pool. Your mother used to collect apples from the tree in the yard and simmer them on the stove. They were little and sour and hard and she added scoops of brown sugar from a round tin on the counter. A picture painted on the tin showed a smiling woman holding a pie. While your mother stirred the compote, you would trace the outline of the woman. It was just the three of you. Why do you remember this now? There are many more recent things you’d like to remember, but can’t. You are once again standing on the blue stool and pressing your belly into the counter as you trace a finger over and over the painted woman, back feet belly head, shoulder knee bosom neck, stopping only when your mother pulls the tin close, opens the lid, and pours in fresh brown sugar from a new bag. A clump the size of your thumb lies on top of the pile. What joy it is to let that shimmering nugget dissolve on your tongue. You look to your mother for permission, though you know she’ll say what she always says, “Go ahead sweetie, go ahead.”