Teaching at RMC lets me explore with my students what William Faulkner calls the "heart's truth out of the heart's driving complexity." That complexity shapes our lives and is at the core of all great writing and art. I work with prospective and serving military officers in my classes to examine how our complex humanity is realized in language and other media of communication, both by the writers we study and through our own efforts to critically understand their work. Expressing that critical understanding in written words and speech is difficult, and is the fundamental challenge of the self-education that I try to lead my students to experience. At its best, this educational adventure is hard, unforgettable, and changes your life.
I teach undergraduate courses, and War Studies Programme graduate courses, in war literature and the news media and the military. I have also taught advanced reading courses in literary journalism and the poetry of Wordsworth, which was the subject of my doctoral study. My main research interest is the composition and manuscript history of the novel, Execution, about Canadian combat soldiers in Italy during the Second World War, and how its Montreal author, Colin McDougall, wrote the book based on his wartime experience as an infantry officer.
Writing for a living was my daily job for thirteen years at The Kingston Whig-Standard, where I was an editorial writer, executive and editorial page editor, and from 1999-2002, the paper's editor-in-chief. Working at the newspaper gave me the pleasure of telling people's stories, and helping them to tell their own. As a newspaper editor, I was disciplined in the unforgiving task of answering to tens of thousands of readers, who passed judgment every day on not only every word I wrote but on everything the editorial staff published.
I came to the journalist's job after earning PhD and Master's degrees in English at Queen's University. I taught part-time there, as well as at the University of Manitoba and, briefly, at RMC. Another essential part of my post graduate education was working for two years as a masonry construction labourer in Calgary after receiving my B.A. from Trent University. I went there after growing up in Winnipeg, where my family arrived as refugees from the failed 1956 revolution in Hungary, where I was born.