English Composition II - Dr. Lovell's class

Page 4:  Twenty-Four Questions: An Interview with Alberto Alvaro Rios

[Page 1: On Writing]    [Page 2: On the Writing Process]     [Page 3: On Reading] 
[Page 4: On Creativity and Imagination] [Page 5: On Teaching] [Page 6: On Culture]  
[Page 7: Some General Questions]    [Page 8: On the September 11th Attacks]  
[Page 9: An Essay by Ríos on the September 11th Attacks:"The Night of No Airplanes"
            and Some Final Comments]

On Creativity and Imagination

Christina Womack: Your imagination got you into trouble as a young boy. You recognized it as a "dangerous place." Despite the authority figures in your life (your teacher), you rebelled, so to speak, and retained that imagination. In your opinion, what was most dangerous about having a great imagination? I would think the most dangerous aspect would be that your daydreaming and dynamic thinking were not accepted by teachers. Did any of your teachers ever realize, or even appreciate, what you were actually getting out of their instructions and lectures? Also, according to your recent students, you cultivate a thinking pattern in them that allows them to "open up." Your writing style seems to be good evidence of what your students are speaking of. You have a wonderful way of giving multi-dimensions to objects, thoughts, and characters in your works. I see you as a rich person, not because of material benefits you might have as a result of writing, but because of your many different outlooks on life. What would be a key piece of advice to help a person open up his/her mind in such a way? I grasp the various dimensions in which you describe your ideas as I read, and I would have never thought of an idea in any other way than the obvious one before I had read it in your work. To think independently in such a manner is something I would love to learn. 

AR: Hello, Chris. I appreciate the comments and observations you make here. If there is one piece of advice, let me give it to you this way, in the form of a quotation from Pablo Picasso. He said something like this: If you look at a parrot and do not see the green salad that is there, then you diminish the parrot. I love that! What it means is that, inherently, everything has many angles, many edges, many ways to be understood. I first saw this as I spoke more than one language, and could see that everything--everything!--had more than one word. That suggested to me that one word was not enough for a thing, and this spilled over into my writing and my thinking. 

Robin Dennis: Mr. Ríos, I am just wondering how you are able to teach your students to become more open in their writing. I think that I am in need of some help. Thank you for your time. 

AR: This is a good question. One of the things I do is to have my students read two books: Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke, and The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry . They are both about the imagination, really. But one of the things I really like that Rilke says--and this always makes my students very upset--is not to write love poems. But what he actually means by this is to be careful not to write about the things that matter most to you when you are just learning to write--that is, why would you write the most important things when you are the weakest writer you will be? Why not wait, and save these, so that you will be better able to address them when you are a more accomplished writer? Now, the reason I bring that up has everything to do with "opening up." When you can hear critical feedback as a helpful thing regarding the craft of writing, and not as a personal attack on your content--you will find that opening up is far, far easier. This is just one suggestion, of course, but it really does help, especially if you think you are going to go on and write more. 

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Web page author and instructor: Dr. Linda Lovell
This page was last updated on 11/20/2007.