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Meet Andrew Najberg: A Poet Speaks

UTC Creative Writing Professor Andrew Najberg speaks on finding his niche.

Growing up, Andrew involved himself in a variety of writing projects. In college, he started out as a computer science major, but after taking a poetry class from a professor called Dr. Smith, he was inspired to switch to creative writing.

“There was something truly magical about that class,” Andrew said. “Dr. Smith was so excited about everything he talked about that I couldn’t help being excited with him.”

Many things inspire Andrew’s writing. “When I’m between things, I’ll often think about one of [Dr. Smith’s] poems,” he said.

Another inspiration to Andrew is the Meacham Writers’ Workshop he works with in Chattanooga. The workshop gathers writers internationally for readings and workshops.

“I consistently find myself producing quite a bit of material leading up to, during, and after the workshop,” Andrew says.

Andrew’s love of reading also inspires him. Japanese novels have always held great interest to him, as well as other aspects of Eastern philosophy and culture; recently, however, he’s been especially drawn to Hispanic literature.

“I’ve been discovering simply exquisite craft in both English and Spanish,” he said.

Andrew acknowledges that the publishing world can be difficult, especially for those just beginning to spread their wings. He lays out a few things to remember to keep from getting discouraged.

First of all, Andrew reminds us that “writing and publishing are both—in their own rights—disciplines.” To have any chance at all, one must keep writing and keep submitting work to be published.

Another tip is to not fear rejection. It happens to everyone, and it is not always because the publishers didn’t like the submission. “Maybe the editors started to feel like a ‘theme’ or ‘mood’ was emerging from the submissions they were selecting,” Andrew said, “and your piece … just didn’t quite fit that feel.” Don’t give up. Revise the piece and try again.

Andrew believes that Chattanooga’s written artists are not given enough credit. “[A] public mural … communicates a chunk of its value with a simple glance,” Andrew said. “In contrast, if one commissions a poem, that poem must be read. It doesn’t get absorbed as quickly as a statue.”

“Writers are both the voice and description of the location that has produced them,” Andrew continued, “and we have the opportunity to explore with a depth difficult to obtain in other arts.”

Andrew hopes Chattanooga will recognize this area of the arts and celebrate local writers. “I would love to see the city expand the availability of grants for local authors [and] funding for more public events,” he said.

You can learn more about Andrew's latest book here!