SMC Community Ed instructor Anita Gill has always been in love with the written word, particularly in nonfiction forms. And now she’s spreading that passion for writing as a teacher, focusing on blogs, memoir and essays.

Anita Gill

Anita Gill started her award-winning writing career with a book blog. “I love reading,” she said, “so I decided to have a blog on books, to start to be an informal book reviewer.”

But after awhile she gave up her book blog and progressed to essays and memoir. In fact, she is currently writing a collection of essays about growing up in a mixed-race family – her father is from India, her mother is German-Polish – and the issues of identity culture and trauma from her experiences.

Gill started teaching a Blog Writing class at SMC Community Ed this summer and will be taking over the Memoir Writing class in October after Monona Wali stopped teaching the course a year ago. Gill was impressed with her students’ blogs, one of which has been published on Community Ed’s blog site, SMC Mindspace. Gill has also taught English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) in SMC’s academic program for the past five years.

She holds an M.A. in Literature from American University in Washington, D.C. and an M.F.A. in Writing with a focus in Nonfiction from Pacific University in Oregon. She has received grants and residencies from Pacific University and Vermont Studio Center.

She has published her writing in blogs for BrevityWomen Who Submit (both of these links will get you to pieces she wrote that can help writers of any form), WordTrance, and other venues. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Rumpus, Hippocampus Magazine, and elsewhere. She won the 2018 Iowa Review Award in Nonfiction for one of her essays.

For the past few years, she has been a volunteer teaching some evening creative writing classes for a nonprofit, including the personal narrative, which is similar to memoir writing. The key difference is that a narrative focuses on an event, while a memoir centers on an individual, who is usually the writer of the book.

Anita Gill

What do you like about teaching personal narrative?

 I love the opportunity to read and listen to my students’ work. Every student has a different voice and tone in their lines, and I’m always impressed with their work.  

What do you like about teaching Blog Writing?

I like discussing the types of blogs out there and helping students figure out what their platform will be about. It’s wonderful to watch their faces light up as they explain the things they’re passionate about.

What kinds of students have you had so far at SMC Community Ed?

 My students have been of a variety of ages and backgrounds. It has been great because the students not only enjoy the content of the class, but they also love to better understand their classmates.

 What books are on your nightstand? 

I don’t have a nightstand, but I have a list of books to read. Some of them are memoirs like All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung and Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Along with teaching workshops, I lead a local chapter of the organization, Women Who Submit. Our organization welcomes women and non-binary writers to meet once a month to discuss and encourage one another to submit work to journals, agents, and contests.

Anita Gill will teach Memoir Writing Workshop beginning Wednesday, Oct. 17.

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