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November 11, 2016

Katherine Hill Brings Literary and Teaching Expertise to English Department

by Kurt Gottschalk

khill_bw-hi-resKatherine Hill, the newest addition to Adelphi University’s English Department faculty, comes with experience. Besides previously teaching in creative writing programs at two other area universities, she has worked with prisoners and with students in disadvantaged high schools, helping a broad cross-section of people sharpen their literary blades.

“A lot of times, people find their muse when they’re on the inside,” Hill said of her work with the PEN Prison Writing Program. “They take the workshops, they read a lot and get excited. The students were some of the most engaged, focused students I’ve ever had. They would work all day and then come to class at night and were always prepared. And they want to do well, which is marvelous for a teacher.”

As a mentor with Girls Write Now, Hill works with high school girls in New York City to develop skills in journalism, memoir, fiction, poetry and other forms, as well as public speaking and college prep.

“It’s just wonderful to watch them find their writer’s voice,” she said. “It makes me very excited, as a college professor, to see these young women coming up. And my mentee is applying to Adelphi this year!”

Hill’s own novel, The Violet Hour (published by Scribner in 2013) was called “a rewarding family saga” and “wonderfully witty” by Washington Post Book World. The book caps an impressive few years that brought her to Adelphi this fall with a degree from Yale University graduate with an M.F.A. from Bennington College.

Hill is currently working on her second novel, which takes football as its setting, while finding her way through her first semester at teaching in Adelphi’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing program.

“We’re a little over halfway through the semester and already I’m seeing improvements, which is great,” she said. “It’s how I measure myself as a teacher.”

Hill has also found a role with Village of Crickets—the literary organization founded by adjunct English professor Danielle Barnhart ’15 and Iris Mahan ’14, both graduates of the M.F.A. program. On October 20, the organization held its first reading at the historic Cornelia Street Café in Manhattan’s West Village and Adelphi was there in full force. The acclaimed young author Kirstin Valdez Quade, who has also recently published her first collection of fiction, was the invited reader. Hill was on hand to interview her.

Asked by one of the students how she honed her craft, Quade responded, “I read and write and read and write. You know, other writers are really the best teachers.”

Sitting to her left on the small stage, Hill gave a slight nod of affirmation.


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