I grew up in the American Midwest but have spent most of my adult life in Canada as a teacher of English at John Abbott College. Enlightened education policies here have allowed me to create most of the curriculum I follow, practice my own writing, and arrange sabbatical excursions. I have also been able to teach for varying periods of time in California, Saudi Arabia, Austria, and South Korea.
The most important literary influence on my thinking has been William Blake. He was a renegade poet and visionary artist who lived in England during the early years of the industrial revolution. Blake all but equated creative imagination with God, and the mythological figure that represents this energy in his work is Los.
In a flash of youthful exuberance long ago, I came to see myself as Los Laymen, using a variant spelling of my last name. However, Blake’s idea was that no individual can possess this creative imagination. The spirit migrates among people and from one generation to the next with unfathomable caprice. Writers can only troll the shoals of language in hopes of periodic visitations from Los who lurks eternally in the depths.
No matter what courses I might be teaching, this is the attitude toward language, literature and life that I try to communicate to my students.