Garrard Conley is an assistant professor of creative writing who shared how his life experiences influence his teaching.
Conley exemplifies how transitions are an essential part of the divine plan. He has been designated as professor of the week at Kennesaw State for his extraordinary art, passion for students and skills in creative writing. His 2016 memoir Boy Erased was a New York Times Best Seller.
Conley has been faced with a variety of challenges throughout his career but has dedicated his life to using his knowledge of literature and the art of writing to help students grow in their appreciation of the arts.
Growing up LGBTQ in the South was challenging for him. He was forced to undergo conversion therapy, sometimes called “gay cure therapy,” which aims to change someone’s sexual orientation. In spite of the trauma he had suffered, he remained resilient while displaying his passion for literature, dedication to his students and the art of creativity.
The Brooklyn College Master of Fine Arts alumnus discusses how much he appreciates the structure that teaching provides and the creative process while also enjoying interacting with his students. Conley’s momentum to continue writing more is formed from his students.
“My students get excited about writing, and that increases my desire to go to the pages to write as well,” Conley said.
As a teacher of creative nonfiction writing and as someone who brings great quality and joy to his classroom, Conley said that he is not only teaching students how to write professionally but how to become professional as well.
“When the world seems to be falling apart around us, there are still people who care about living a good life and being a moral person,” Conley said.
His ability to relate life’s traumatic events to his students speaks of his passion for life ahead. College can be an exciting, new and challenging experience for students, so Conley’s perspective and resilience are assets. There are over 30,000 students at KSU, which provides an excellent introduction to the world just on campus. Having an educator who is truthful, impactful and confident in his knowledge of the literary arts creates a promising future for creative writers and professionals.
Conley offers one graduate course and three undergraduate courses on the Kennesaw campus. He encourages students to attend his classes. The ability to adapt to different seasons of his life has remained a constant characteristic of Conley’s teaching. He encourages his students to become writers, be creative and live their truths.