Drevlow sees benefits for Burning Swamp in time of COVID
By Tyler Miller
Benjamin Drevlow, a professor/lecturer in the writing and linguistics department at Georgia Southern University, has been teaching ever since he could remember doing so.
“I started out studying to be an elementary school teacher then switched to middle school, then high school and floated around, did some soul searching till I decided to go to grad school and pursue creative writing,” said Drevlow.
He went on to add that there’s a lot left in there but it leads him to what he does now and why he is the way he is. His mom was a high school teacher originally so she was a big inspiration for him to be a teacher himself.
“My wife and I were teaching back in 2008 when the economy crashed and they started cutting a lot of teachers. And then randomly, my wife’s brother lived in Atlanta so we were going to go and try to work there,” said Drevlow. “More randomly, the guy who had been our graduate coordinator where we went to school happened to have just gotten a job here and happened to randomly have had two teaching positions open up right before i called him to see if he knew anyone in Atlanta. He didn’t, but he knew a place called Georgia Southern that had room for two creative writing professors.”
In addition to other roles, Drevlow is also the host of Burning Swamp. Burning Swamp is an opening mic reading that happens on the Statesboro campus, for writers that want to read and show off their work. He said that it has really changed since covid.
“Unfortunately, we have had to move Burning Swamp from our regular place at Eagle Creek Brewery to over zoom, so there’s not the same kind of communing feel, but on the other hand, doing it via Zoom allows more students from all over to come and read and listen,” Drevlow said. “We can now get students from all three campuses, which is really great to be able to branch out and bring other people into our swamp culture. In fact, we’ll probably still hold at least some Zoom swamps even when we can get back together in person, just to let everyone who wants to participate.”
He also said that his teaching methods have also changed around since the pandemic. “As much as I really miss teaching in person and getting to walk around and wave my arms, from the first day of the fall semester I've focused on making the best out of what online teaching could be. I’ve always done a lot with Folio and discussion boards, so that wasn’t a big change,” said Drevlow. He added, “But with Zoom, I’ve found that for all its issues, I really dig the chat function, so students who might not always talk out loud will comment on whatever is going on. In creative writing, specifically, it’s great to be able to have students post their in-class writing exercises so we can all read them and give feedback on the spot, rather than having to wait for weeks before we can share.”
One of his former students, Lindsey Wachniak spoke a bit about Drevlow and what it was like to be in his class.
“He was my applied creative writing professor. When I enrolled in the class I was already out of my comfort zone, because I don’t do a lot of creative writing, and he pushed me even farther out there. I remember that when I received my first email from him prior to the semester starting, he signed it, “the Drevlow”. I thought “what have I gotten myself into,” said Wachniak. She also added that she would recommend his class to other students and that she definitely grew as a writer because of Drevlow.