A Profile of Diane Frank
Students drifted out as I waited outside Room 677. Class had ended but there were the usual students standing around Diane Frank’s desk, waiting to ask a crucial question or to ask for a clarification. Two women emerged, talking happily.
“Another wonderful class,” said one.
“Oh, yes,” enthused the other, adding, “and I always feel so strong at the end.”
An ideal compliment, I thought, for a teacher who prides herself on gently supporting the creative spark in her students, what Diane refers to as “bringing out the memories of their souls in the context of a graduate-level writing class.”
A woman who could only be Diane Frank approached me, wearing a broad smile. She exuded a lively energy, even at the end of two hours of teaching. We found a quiet alcove and sat down to chat.
It started with Diane’s latest book, a just-published memoir, Letters from a Sacred Mountain Place: A Journey through the Nepal Himalayas. This is her sixth book. The 2003 novel, Blackberries in a Dream House, received the 2003 Chelson Award for fiction and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
When asked when she started writing poetry, Diane said she became a poet at ten and never looked back as she knew early on that this was what she was meant to become. An M.A. in Creative Writing/English from San Francisco State University followed her B.A. from Syracuse University.
Over the years she has taught writing and poetry to a wide range of students. Currently, as Poet in the School, she leads a poetry workshop for students in an elementary school and a middle school. She also is teaching poetry and memoir workshops at Dominican University, using techniques of poetry and fiction to help her students create personal narratives. In addition, Diane teaches creative writing in the College of Creative Arts at San Francisco State University.
And now, ending where we started, chatting in the interval between two sections of her OLLI class, Writing: The Gentle Art of Haiku and the Haibun, I asked Diane what was unique about teaching OLLI students. She thought for a few minutes.
“They are older than I am, so I learn so much from them. Class becomes a two-way learning process.”
Diane Frank is an award-winning poet and author of seven books of poems. Blackberries in the Dream House, her first novel, won the Chelson Award for Fiction and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She is editor of the bestselling anthology, River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the 21st Century, which she describes as a box of chocolate for poets. Her new book of poems, Canon for Bears and Ponderosa Pines, was published by Glass Lyre Press. Her memoir, Letters from a Sacred Mountain Place: A Journey through the Nepal Himalayas, was published by Nirala Press – with stories, poems, and 53 color photographs. She also plays cello in the Golden Gate Symphony. For more information, visit Diane's website: www.dianefrank.net
Editor's note: below are links to works that were inspired by and developed in Diane's class, Writing: The Gentle Art of Haiku and the Haibun, then submitted and accepted for publication in this issue of Vistas & Byways:
Kamaaina in Hawaii by Elsa Fernandez
Daydream by Elinor Gale
Haibun 1 and Haibun 2 by Mary Heldman
Arc of Falling Leaves and Flower Power 2018 by Angie Minkin
About Kaaren Strauch Brown
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