University of Wisconsin-Superior writing professor Julie Gard has written and seen many things.
She has not only taught at UWS, but also spent time in college as a tutor on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama, Iowa, served as an intern at a juvenile correctional facility and was a teaching assistant during graduate school at the University of Minnesota.
Gard has also done a writing residency at a center for homeless LGBTQ+ youth in Minneapolis, Minnesota, called Project Off Streets, taught and tutored in an orphanage in Russia, taught and worked with Chechnyan refugees, taught at Bismarck State College in Bismarck, North Dakota, and taught at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior.
These travel and teaching experiences have had a profound impact on her writing, which has been a part of Gard's life since an early age.
"I have been writing since I could write," Gard said. "I've been writing little books of poetry since I was 6 or 7 years old."
She has primarily chosen poetry, particularly prose poetry, as her preferred writing genre.
Gard describes prose poetry as her favorite type of poetry because she likes the "concentrated form between poetry and prose" and having the opportunity to "create high impact and sustained narrative arc or theme." Though she mostly writes in prose, Gard reads all forms of poetry and draws creative influence from other poets and writers, such as George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin and Holly Iglesias. Major experiences in her life, such as traveling, losses, family and politics, in the U.S. and on campus at UWS, have also influenced her writing.
When asked to describe her typical writing process, Gard stated "Freewriting, drafting and revising. I not only teach that process, but use it myself."
Her writing process also includes journaling, writing off objects she's found, and writing off one topic on a daily basis. For Gard, writing a poem works better if she does not have any "preconception," and ideas or concepts for a poem can be created through simple visual objects or sources in the environment. She sometimes likes to write in a series of prose poems that all relate to each other and tell a different part of the same story. This has allowed Gard to also develop an interest in lyric essays and how they relate to prose poetry.
Gard ended the discussion with some helpful creative and academic advice to writing students at UWS.
"Don't be afraid to write a really bad first draft," she said. "Write regularly or establish a form of practice."
Writing regularly does not have to be every single day but at a time that works best for the writer, and when they are able to use their creativity the most. Other advice she gave includes reading works from a writing genre that you want to become a part of, be it novels, poetry, prose, essays or plays.
"Don't be afraid to experiment in your writing," she said.