FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Faith Adiele’s Passion for Narrative

headshot of faculty member Faith Adele on black background

Editor's note: FACULTY SPOTLIGHT is an editorial series that showcases CCA's wide range of professional faculty members.

Here we learn more about Writing and Literature and MFA in Writing faculty member Faith Adiele, who was born of a Nordic-American mother and a Nigerian father. 

Adiele was raised as the sole African girl on a farm in the Pacific Northwest. She later won a fellowship to Nigeria, where she met for the first time her father -- originally thought killed in the Biafran War -- and her siblings.

Adiele serves as an advisory faculty member position for the college's Students of Color organization. She has lectured and taught writing all over the world.

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How is CCA supporting your efforts to promote cultural awareness and appreciation of diversity?

In addition to being a multicultural person who writes about culture and travel, I am also a former diversity trainer. CCA values that and has supported my desire to explore these interests via the curriculum.

I teach undergraduate and graduate seminars on such topics as Coming of Age Around the World: International Young Adult Literature & Film that focuses on the girl-child in under-resourced countries; and Fire & Ink: Documentary Narrative that focuses on global hot spots and brings socially engaged authors to campus.

Last year, with help from the Center for Art in Public Life, I developed an ENGAGE course in Travel Writing that sent students into communities reliant on public transportation, and last semester I piloted an exciting course in Contemporary African Literature that used dance, food, guest speakers, fashion, and the latest books to explore African storytelling. I now run it as a free book club for the community.

The hiring of experimental black poet Tonya Foster last year is another indication of CCA’s efforts to hire writers who are formal and cultural innovators. (Foster was also a featured Writers Series guest in fall 2015.)
 

How does the Writers Series benefit students both inside and outside the writing majors?

One of my personal initiatives at CCA has been trying is to find ways to talk across the disciplines about narrative. I believe that storytelling is one of the common threads we all share, whether the medium are creative writing, design, ceramics, architecture, etc.

I love seeing how scholars and artists in different fields approach the topics that interest me, and I personally look to film and photography to learn rhetorical persuasion and narrative structure.

The Writers Series (an MFA in Writing program curricular requirement called Friday Seminar) is legendary; it’s become a (true) joke that the speakers we get, who are diverse in every way imaginable, end up hitting it big soon after, with Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and Bestseller status.

Who doesn’t want to hear a good story? Who couldn’t help but be inspired and challenged by interacting with artists and writers at the top of their game?

See who’s been part of the Writers Series

 

What do you tell friends, family, or colleagues about teaching at CCA?

I tell them I LOVE teaching art students! They’re motivated by curiosity, not grades. They understand the role of apprenticeship in education so [they] appreciate constructive critique. It’s unusual these days, and a joy.

I also feel like the college values me for the right things—for caring passionately about social justice and community, for believing in the importance of mentoring, for teaching from the position of being a maker.

I admire and learn from my colleagues in the Writing and Literature and MFA in Writing programs, and I’m hoping to challenge myself professionally and get the opportunity to collaborate with folks in other disciplines like design, photography, film, and comics.
 

Which alumni do you feel are having successful writing careers?

Interdisciplinary poet and sound artist LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs is killing it in New York, as is Molly Prentiss with Tuesday Nights in 1980, her highly acclaimed novel about art!

And Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of the New York Times best-selling book How to Raise an Adult, is still an MFAW student and my mentee!

 

What do you tell prospective writing students about CCA?

You’ll be in small classes, getting lots of personal attention and mentoring from an active, publishing writer. One of my favorite things about the MFAW program is that mentoring is built into the curriculum. Every single semester you can design a personalized class with a different faculty member!

What’s happening at CCA and in the Bay Area in general with storytelling technology, new media, books arts, e-publishing, is the future of books. Here you can study across genre, blending traditional nonfiction, fiction, scripts, and poetry with the graphic novel, letterpress, and the experimental.

You can also take classes outside the department in such things as sound design and photography, which will put you light years ahead of those who go to traditional writing programs.

You will even have the opportunity showcase and sell your work at conventions like Alternative Press Expo.

You’ll have ample opportunities for real-world, hands-on experience. Every semester you can take ENGAGE courses, including a Teaching Practicum, that partner with organizations like 826 Valencia, La Cucina, the Cartoon Arts Museum, and Oakland School for the Arts.

You’ll spend an entire year learning all aspects of running a real literary journal, both online and print versions. And it’s a class, not an extracurricular activity.

You’ll learn how to run a monthly, student-curated reading series and have the opportunity to introduce, host, network with, and share the stage with nationally known writers.

Though our Master Writer-in-Residence program, you will also have the opportunity to study closely with such visiting luminaries as Eileen Myles, Paul Hoover, Anne Waldman, Will Alexander, and Anne Carson.