Jen Kabat saved me from myself, extending her wisdom and guidance beyond her professorial duties to support a research project that pushed my writing outside my self-imposed limits. She challenged me to fail; she urged me to spill the worst thoughts I’ve ever had onto paper, to embrace the cliched, to lean into the surface as a way to break through to what I actually needed to say. It was scary and exciting and unexpected to have someone recognize the soul-crushing process of writing as a paradoxically life-saving exercise.
There are few teachers that can weave poetics into the doldrum of the everyday, excise a purpose from your messiest, ill-conceived ideas, honour the value of individual perspective in nonfiction, and provide endlessly thoughtful threads of insight and critique and reference material to a cohort of students all while sustaining her own creative writing practice. Somehow, Jen Kabat manages to do all of this and then some. I am so honoured to have been her student.