Teaching and writing, before dawn

An award-winning poet and novelist, Javier Ávila teaches five English classes at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania. He writes from midnight to 4 a.m., goes to sleep and wakes up for a 10 am class, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.

A tenured  literature professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Ávila was being groomed for an administration job when he decided to move to Northampton.  He “just wanted to teach and write.”

At first, he says, he wasn’t sure about being at a community college, with its heavy classroom load. But he quickly realized the rewards of “teaching people who are more grateful to be taught.” For Mr. Ávila, teaching is like performing. He encourages students to talk about what is important to them, and, in turn, tells stories about his own life and experiences as a writer. Students eventually get hooked. “They write a lot, but they don’t realize it because they’re enjoying the process,” he says.

His new novel, The Oldest Profession, is about “a worn-out professor who has given up on teaching and on life, until he begins to uncover corruption at the highest levels of his university—including a prostitution scandal that involves the president.”

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs
ON May 25, 2010

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