BA in English and Philosophy, University of Utah
MA in English and American Literature, Washington University in St. Louis
Mr. Kasten has served as a tutor at The Writing Center since its inception and has taught a variety of courses in Writing 1 and the Department of English. His areas of interest include contemporary fiction and non-fiction, Latin American literature and politics, and American Culture Studies. He is a senior writer at the Riverfront Times weekly newspaper in St. Louis and former contributing editor to No Depression magazine. His writing has appeared in the Oxford American and De Capo Press Best Music Writing of 2004.
What brought you to The Writing Center?
I first joined The Writing Center in the ‘90s, when the center was as much a nascent idea as a fully-realized service. The director at the time, Doreen Salli, was a colleague in the Department of English where I was working on my PhD. I respected Doreen and admired her teaching philosophy. I imagined that working with her, and with students, in a unique one-on-one setting, would be rewarding.
What do you like most about working with writers at The Writing Center?
I value the way relationships form – rather quickly sometimes. Getting to know a young writer, seeing him or her develop ideas and styles, sheds a new light on the writing process and, just as importantly, on the nature of education. Working with writers at The Writing Center is a conversation, a deep back-and-forth, where new thoughts and possibilities emerge in unexpected ways.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Getting the words right! More seriously, the greatest challenge of writing is moving beyond conventional wisdom, all the received ideas and words that come before us, and finding, in every act of writing, one’s own voice.
What advice do you have for writers?
Trust yourself. Writing isn’t about getting the right answers, impressing a reader or demonstrating one’s skills or knowledge. Writing is about what that writer, and that writer alone, has to say. Believe in the power of your own unique ideas, and your writing will, in time and in the difficult but rewarding process of revision, come alive on the page.