The article about my firing is misleading. It leads with the statement that I was fired from the university with a "lifetime ban," for one example.
Current editor-in-chief, Patty Bowen, admitted in a recent phone conversation that no source exists for this phrase. She apologized for the "sensational and negative tone" of the article, produced under an earlier management, and agreed to strike the phrase. I thank her for her professionalism.
It was a chaotic semester teaching this senior-level fiction workshop, but a few kind administrators and faculty came to my aid. When one student became extremely disruptive, Dean Chris Wuthrich helped me navigate the process.
The class finally fell apart when students protested a New York Times essay on Blackboard--"My Father, the Pornographer," written by my former teacher at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Parents complained as well. At this time a different dean stepped in and decided it was time for me to go.
I regret the email exchange that followed between me and the second dean. I also regret my increasing grumpiness in that unruly class--and understand the student complaints that I was harsh--but I never once got personal in my story critiques nor attempted to destroy anybody's ego, as was stated.
Nor did I say any student was a bad writer. In fact I often repeated that only consistent practice over many years creates excellence. Good writers are not born. It takes hard work. I gave craft-based workshops, discussing the words on the page.
Tough workshops help writers improve--especially in a senior-level course in which some had literary ambition--but I agree they are painful, and the instructor's feelings about the story are sometimes taken personally.
When the memoir My Father, the Pornographer was published later, I wrote this review, published in New York City's the Rumpus. The book doesn't have much to do with pornography--it's mostly about the author's weird dad.