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Kalamazoo Valley is rich with prolific and talented writers. Several alumni have gone on to publish books that have gained national recognition. Many of the college's English instructors are also widely recognized for their writing ability. "We have a particularly strong English department at this school and I'm proud to be a part of it," said instructor Rob Haight.
Haight is marking his 25th year as a Kalamazoo Valley English instructor. Feeding Wild Birds, Haight's third and most recent book, is a collection of nature poems organized by season.
Haight said he tends to write in the early morning. "Most days I spend some time with revision," he said. "The challenge for me is generating the first new writing. If I'm in the right place, I write. I have to create enough spaces in my life that will allow me to practice it regularly."
Haight said he thinks it's essential for writers to collaborate and hold each other accountable. "Writing communities tend to be proactive for everyone concerned," Haight said. "Many of our students have gone on to do great things."
He lists NoViolet Bulawayo, Winter Goebel, and Anne Champion as some of the most successful Kalamazoo Valley alumni writers in recent years. Haight loves building and maintaining relationships with students. "For me, this is a really wonderful job because I like people and I like all aspects of teaching," he said. "I really enjoy interacting with people."
Haight thinks polished writers and those new to the craft can all benefit from some simple advice. "Go to class," he advises. "That's the biggest difference between success and failure. If you're present for your life, you're going to be a lot more aware than if you're going through the motions. That's the big difference in how people perform."
Haight describes Feeding Wild Birds as a spiritual book. Childhood memories are interspersed with nature scenes so descriptive that the reader can hear frosty leaves crunching under foot. The book is available through Mayapple Press.
Scott Russell Sanders, author of Earth Works: Selected Essays, gives it high praise.
Like the Buddhist and Taoist sages whom he admires, Haight places human life within the great realities – the seasons, weathers, the cycles and birth and death, the host of living things – and he does so with a heart attuned to wilderness. These are poems without an expiration date, as fresh and clear as moonlight or the morning dew.
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