How to meet with me

HOW TO MEET WITH ME (updated version, 8/1/2019 for 2019 /2020 school year)

Katie Peterson

If you are reading this document, it is because you have set up a meeting with me. Terrific! Let’s make our meeting a good one.  Here are a few reasons why you might be meeting with me:

  1. The capstone of the graduate program in Creative Writing at Davis is a thesis project and a thesis defense. The thesis project requires substantial independent work under the guidance of individual mentors. In Creative Writing, we structure this mentorship with a committee of three, with a First Reader (the Chair) and two additional Readers. In your first year, you should consider who you want these mentors to be, and try to cultivate relationships with the writers and scholars who you want to mentor you.
  2. Both years of the program require coursework with faculty in the Creative Writing Program, the English Department, and other programs. Most of these courses are seminar style. It is often the case that you will want to explore questions and topics not covered by classroom discussion.
  3. It may be that you wish to consult with a faculty member you are not currently taking a class from. I am a poet and nonfiction writer who writes occasional criticism. As a member of the English department, I would be happy to meet with you to speak about matters in my area of expertise.

Here are actions you can take to make our meeting go well:

  1. Come prepared with a question, a set of questions, or a task. This could be, what poets should I read if I’m trying to write good similes? Or, how can I think about the American tradition as a woman of color, and what sources and persons might I consult to do that? Or, I want to apply for a residency, and do you have any suggestions about how to think about that?
  2. Prepare for our meeting and attend it almost as if it was a class. Come on time, if we have an appointment. If relevant, send me work you’ve done and wish to talk about, or direct my attention to work I might already have that you’ve done. If you send me work, send it a few nights before. This doesn’t always have to be the way we meet – if we’re doing thesis hours, there may be some weeks we talk about practice and strategy as opposed to concentrating on work. But your default, especially for first meetings, should be to be prepared.
  3. Be ready to take notes. Even if you don’t actually take them, it’s great to have a notebook and a pen at hand.
  4. Take a moment at the end of the meeting to reflect back on what we’ve talked about. So, if you’ve come in with a goal (get a list of great books in translation, or talk about the importance of setting to a story) and we’ve veered away from it, just remind yourself what it is, and remind me, so if we didn’t get there we can at least try.
  5. Come prepared to do some talking of your own. Be willing to ask questions and to evaluate the answers. Don’t expect me to lecture to you on a topic – office hours is not really for that and I am not a short order cook!