Why I teach
Susan Goslee

Susan Goslee

Assistant Professor
English and Philosophy

Susan Goslee, Ph.D., is a published poet who joined the ISU faculty in the fall semester of 2007. She balances her time between teaching, writing and department committee work. As part of the class, "Literary Magazine Production," Goslee advises the publication of Black Rock & Sage, ISU's student arts journal. The journal publishes creative work ranging from prose and poetry to art and music. Under her guidance Black Rock & Sage changed to a student-only publication. From her first poems published in Quarterly West, she has had poems published in top journals including Diagram, Sonora Review, Northwest Review, Seneca Review, Gulf Coast, Spork, Indiana Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Prairie Schooner, Third Coast, West Branch, to name but a few.

What inspired you to be a university professor?
I enjoy working with young people and working with a group towards a shared goal or on a shared project.

Why teach in a university setting?
Teaching at ISU enables me to pursue my own research in addition to teaching. This is a great mix.

If you weren't a university professor what do you think you would be doing?
I was a psychology major in college so it's possible I might have pursued a career in developmental/abnormal psychology. I still find that field fascinating.

What prompted you to go into poetry?
I went into poetry because I thought you didn't need to know punctuation! I thought you could say whatever you wanted and nobody cared if it meant anything because it sounded deep. Only later did I learn that it's the exact opposite, but by that point I had already become a poetry addict, so I was stuck.

What has teaching taught you about yourself?
Teaching is often very humbling. I've learned that I'm not naturally a very good listener. However, when I make an effort to listen thoughtfully, it really pays off.

What is the most difficult aspect of teaching?
I'm still learning how to foster discussion as opposed to slipping into lecturing.

What inspired you to enter higher education?
I am keenly interested in writing and studying poetry. I also like teaching writing and literature, so a university setting seems like a natural fit.

Why do you think Black Rock & Sage is significant to ISU?
BR&S is very important because it's the only student journal of creative work at ISU. BR&S is a physical and portable manifestation of student artistic endeavors.

Is there an identifying moment where you knew you had a pronounced positive impact upon a student?
I think you would have to ask my students about that one! It's gratifying when students take a second course with you.

What career/life messages do you try to impart upon your students?
I'm not sure poets are a great source for career advice. I do hope that my students, after they graduate, continue to have opportunities to explore the arts-see plays, read great books, watch great movies, listen to great music, attend great art exhibitions. My advice for aspiring writers is this: creative writing isn't going anywhere. Your writing skills will only get stronger as you get older. Make sure, in the meantime, that you have a job and can pay rent and feed yourself. Those things are important.

What do you want students to take from their ISU educational experience?
One of my professors once remarked that the more time you give literature, the more it will reward that attention. I hope that all ISU students have a chance to lose themselves in a discipline or course of study-because research and writing builds one's sense of self as well as knowledge.


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