If you allow students to wait, to study deeply and be responsible for what they say, they can really feel themselves thinking and understanding something that they did not understand previously.

Harold Schweizer

Professor of English Harold Schweizer’s scholarship evolved from teaching literary theory and poetry to his own discovery that he too could publish poetry. “I’ve always had a very amorous relationship toward poetry but never had the courage to try it myself,” he says. “I wrote a long poem in 2008, and through fortuitous events, it was immediately published. Since then, I’ve been able to publish poems, and I have a poetry book forthcoming next year.” The Book of Stones and Angels will be released by Tupelo Press in 2015.

Seeing poetry from the point of view of a creative writer has enriched and deepened Schweizer’s understanding of the poets he teaches. “For everyone in every walk of life, it pays off to evolve professionally with passion and creativity. We are wise to support people who find different subjects and interests. Bucknell has been very good to me to accommodate these changes in my scholarship,” says Schweizer, who teaches creative writing along with theory, modern poetry, Holocaust studies and comparative humanities.

His 2008 book, On Waiting, was published as part of a philosophy series, and The Patient (2010) is an edited collection of essays exploring patients’ and caregivers’ experiences. Both books led him to explore another area of the medical humanities: how we pay attention to what we normally would overlook in our lives. The working title for his next book is Lyrical Medicine: Acts of Attention. “Attention takes something out of us. It requires an abandonment of one’s own person and putting oneself wholly into the presence of another,” he says. “I believe very strongly that the study of literature, especially difficult literature, requires such attention of us.”

Work on the books has made Schweizer more patient with his students. “I love to be silent in class after a question and just let the question reverberate. The students, in their own time, come to an answer,” he says. “They deeply appreciate it if you give them time and tell them they don’t need to rush. They are used to a voracious velocity of life — everything is a click away — but if you allow them to wait, to study deeply and be responsible for what they say, they can really feel themselves thinking and understanding something that they did not understand previously.”

Posted Feb. 12, 2015

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