Was there a specific faculty member or peer who especially inspired you while at the School of the Arts? If so, who and how?
Phillip Lopate is beyond a doubt the most wonderful writing instructor I have ever had the pleasure to work with. He never gave up on me, never let up on me, and always made me laugh, at myself, at him, at writing and the world in general. That I got to work with him, and to the extent that I worked with him, ended in a time of my life that I am truly grateful for.
How did attending the School of the Arts impact your work and career as an artist?
I have so much more faith in my sensibilities as a writer and a teacher of writing. I feel more focused in terms of my craft, even if there are hundreds of projects I want to work on. I know that it's hard work, and I feel so ready to get to it, so eager to just wake up and write, and I know I have the School of the Arts to thank for that.
What were the most pressing social/political issues on the minds of the students when you were here?
There was a lot of campus debate about the Israel/Palestine conflict, mostly from the high numbers of Jewish students at Columbia. That, and gender equality issues.
If you could revisit any piece you created during your time at the School of the Arts, which would it be? Why?
I'd probably want to revisit some of the more ranty stuff I wrote here. I think it's not a good reflection of who I was at the time or what I was trying to do.
What was your favorite or most memorable class while at the School of the Arts?
My Food Writing master class. It put me on a course of study and writing that changed my life forever. I am more in love with food and writing than ever, and I have our gorgeous, courageous instructor to thank for that.
About Vyasar Ganesan
Vyasar Ganesan is a writer from Austin, TX. He’s been published in various places, including the National Gallery of Writing, Agave Magazine and Long Story Short. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. His specific literary interests are amateur engineering, food writing, Indian life in America and travel writing, among other fields.