Classy Talk with Jeff Bender

Posted Wed, 8/14/2013 - 8:07pm by  |  Category:

What is the title of your class?


People should take this class if…

. . . they want to get more naked and vulnerable with their writing.  Also if they view writing as a fun, funny thing and not so damned stuffy and important.

Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how? 

Facebook and

Are any of your works online and available to the public? (If no, we’ll remove this question from your survey)

Liars League NYC, “The Guard”

Guernica Mag, “Coaches’ Night Out

U Penn, “Two-a-Days”

First Person Salon, “La Reforma

What excites you about the material you’re teaching?

I’m excited because the concepts and exercises in the class are not only simple but also tried and true.  Some of it comes from comic guru Mark O’Donnell (SNL, Hairspray), who was my teacher at Columbia and taught me a lot about writing. 

Tell us a bit about your previous teaching experience.

I’ve taught in colleges and high schools in Philadelphia, Seattle, and—as of January—Mt. Vernon.  I’ve taught adult classes at Hugo House since spring 2011 and have taught the summer Scribes program the past three years.  I’m also on the Roster of Teaching Artists for Washington State. 

What do you like best about teaching at Hugo House?

The students are so well read, sensitive, and talented.  I also like how many of the teachers double as students.  I’ve had the pleasure both to take classes at Hugo House and to teach writers I admire. 

What’s the best piece of writing you’ve read in the past year?

The Vermont Plays by Annie Baker

What books made you want to write?

The Catcher in the Rye

Jesus’ Son

Where I’m Calling From

The House on Mango Street

If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?

From Gordon Lish, via Amy Hempel: “Don’t glorify yourself—convict yourself.” 

Also from Gordon Lish: “All our secrets are the same.” 

If you were to meet your favorite writer in person later today, what would you say to them?

Thank you for Rocky

What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?

I’m reading August: Osage County by Tracy Letts and a short story called “August” by Mavis Gallant.  I guess I’m looking to get into the August spirit. 

Pathetically I’m not far enough into either to say what I’d pair them with.  It’s absurd to say this about a hundred-page play, but I think I’m only on page 19 or 20.  Lemonade?  I’m hoping to say lemonade.