Writing & Lit. goes to the Beach


Gunter Kleist

Jensen Beach

Jensen Beach fills the position vacated by Assistant Professor of Writing and Literature Jacob White, following a thorough search through the spring 2014 semester.
Beach was hired after becoming acquainted with the Writing and Literature faculty, and spending time in JSC classrooms. Students in the Writing and Literature department gathered to listen to Beach’s “craft/job talk” last semester, during which he discussed his teaching methods for Form and Theory courses, workshop and literature courses, and his experience in editing and publishing literary publications.
The questions of “identity and “honesty” are what Beach hopes to reveal in himself and his students. During his craft talk, Beach said, “In my classes I put this into practice through the goal of facilitating in my students an honest exploration of their personal, local, and global identities, so that by better understanding who they are, my students can work to pursue and refine these definitions in their work and beyond.”
Beach said that he pushes his students to write the most honest and effective work they can produce, and that he walks a line of tough love when critiquing more advanced writers. “It’s not evaluative, but observational,” he said.
Making time outside of the classroom for his students is top priority for Beach. “One of my great professional joys is participating in the literary engagement with my students,” he said.
Beach comes to JSC from the University of Illinois at Urbana, where he taught a variety of English courses including literature, literary editing, fiction writing and composition.
During his time at Urbana, Beach co-organized a reading series called “Stories and Beer” and was on the staff of both print and web publications, including Hobart, where he served as web editor.
“There’s really nothing I’m not excited about when it comes to my new position at JSC,” said Beach. “I’m most eager to be a part of a group of people who care as deeply and as passionately about my favorite things as I do. JSC struck me immediately as a place where the students and faculty alike truly love what they are doing, where the pursuit of an academic and artistic life is one that is valued and supported. That’s not true everywhere, and I feel terrifically lucky to get to come join you all in a shared love for this life we’ve all chosen.”
The chair of the Writing and Literature Department, Sharon Twigg, said Beach is the perfect fit.
“He is incredibly smart and personable, and a talented writer to boot,” said Twigg. “Students who met him during his visit were very impressed.”
Beach earned his MFA in fiction from the Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Beach’s collection of short stories “For Out of the Heart Proceed” was published in 2012.
His stories and reviews have recently been featured in American Short Fiction, Cincinnati Review, Fifty-Two Stories, Kenyon Review Online, Ninth Letter, Sou’wester and Witness.
Beach’s website provided this synopsis of his book: “In his debut collection of stories, Jensen Beach’s characters discover what it means to be individuals, colleagues, husbands and fathers in a world that too often complicates the best intentions with sabotage and subterfuge . . . Each story is a robust chronicle that churns and evolves and offers glimpses into fully-realized lives. To say this marks the arrival of a gifted author is true but somehow misses the mark, as the maturity and sincerity that pulses throughout this collection signals a writer whose many talents have been carefully developed and honed.”
This semester, Beach is teaching Fiction Workshop, Introduction to Creative Writing and two College Writing sections. Beach is also working with three senior thesis advisees.
In addition, Beach has joined the Green Mountains Review staff as fiction editor and web editor.
Beach has also been translating a book from Swedish throughout the summer, and has just received the edits for his new collection of short stories, “Swallowed by the Cold,” which he hopes will be released in early 2016.
He lives in Jericho, Vt. with his wife Anna and three children, Ellie, Theo and Noah.