Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice - Mark Spitzer

Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice - Mark Spitzer

15. Four Investigative Exercises for Individual Discovery

Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice - Mark Spitzer

Mark Spitzer [+-]
University of Central Arkansas
Mark Spitzer is Associate Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas. He is the author of 18 books, ranging from memoirs to novels to literary translations and collections of poetry. He is the editor of the award-winning Toad Suck Review (, a professor of creative writing, an authority on the notorious gar fish (See River Monsters, alligator gar episode), and the world expert on the poetry of Jean Genet. Other recent titles include the poetry collection, Inflammatosis: Polemic Poetry, Incendiary Prose, and Other Extremes of Love and War (Six Gallery Press, 2018); the young adult and children’s literature title, The Crabby Old Gar (Subversive Muse Press, 2018); the novel, Viva Arletty! Our Lady of the Egrets (Six Gallery Press, 2017); the nonfiction work, Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West (University of Nebraska Press, 2017); the literary translation The Genet Translations: Poetry and Posthumous Plays (Polemic Press, 2015), and the memoir, After the Octopus (Black Mountain Press, 2014).


This chapter discusses four homework exercises for creative writing students that can also be used in other disciplines. A reimagined version of William S. Burrough’s cut-up method is presented, and Camoin and Vanderslice’s vision of “something else” is revisited. Innovations on a dictionary-centered assignment developed by poets Kim Addonizio and Dr. Leigh Graham are provided as well. Investigative character development is explored, and so is investigative spontaneous prose in connection to theories of Jack Kerouac, Charles Olson, and the South Park episode that mirrors the Oprah Winfrey/James Frey scandal from 2006 which is based on a nonfiction ethics question. Glimpses of Plato, the biographer Enid Starkie, and the classic rock band REO Speedwagon help comprehend immersive self-discovery processes. Three images are included in this chapter as examples of student work.

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Spitzer, Mark. 15. Four Investigative Exercises for Individual Discovery. Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 213-231 Jan 2020. ISBN 9781781797181. Date accessed: 16 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34904. Jan 2020

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