Virtual Writer in Residence Oliver Baez Bendorf brings mystery and transformation to UBC

The School of Creative Writing is welcoming poet Oliver Baez Bendorf as virtual writer in residence from January 23 to February 3.

Oliver is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Consider the Rooster, forthcoming in 2024, the Advantages of Being Evergreen and The Spectral Wilderness. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Publishing Triangle. Born and raised in Iowa, he now lives in Colorado.

Oliver will lead workshops within Creative Writing classrooms, and also has openings for virtual one-to-one consultations on February 1 and 2. Creative Writing students can book an appointment online.

Everyone is invited to join us on Wednesday, January 25 at 7:00 pm on Zoom for a special event, Queers in Winter, hosted by Assistant Professor Sarah Leavitt, with readings by Oliver, Michael V. Smith, and Hazel Jane Plante.

We’re very excited to have Oliver teach our students. We asked Oliver to share his perspectives on teaching poetry to help students get to know him.

Can you share with us a little about why you love teaching poetry and how you approach it?

I believe that language helps images and ideas come alive between people. It’s exciting to be in that space of mystery and transformation, and I consider it a great luck of my life to be able to share my relationship to poetry with others as they develop their own.

As a teacher of poetry, I am much more interested in questions than answers, much more interested in conversation than conventional critique. I place an emphasis on the entire creative process and on poetry’s cultural contexts. And I enjoy supporting students in widening the scope of what is possible in a poem.

Can you share with us something that you enjoy about teaching virtually?

A few months ago, my response to this question would have been: the ability to have my rabbit Claude snoring near my feet while I teach. He recently died of old age, so now I would say, it’s the magic of teleporting into rooms I may not otherwise have been able to reach. Virtual options continue to increase accessibility for teaching and learning. I’m so excited to be able to join UBC as writer-in-residence through the fiber optic cables!