Meet a Colleague: Beth Staples Beth Staples is an assistant professor of English and she serves as the editor of Shenandoah.
Q. How long have you worked at W&L?
This is my fifth year here, after about six years at UNC Wilmington and a long time at Arizona State.
Q. What courses are you teaching this term?
This is my semester to only teach one class, and it’s Introduction to Fiction Writing. But I almost always teach the Shenandoah Internship class too, where students help me put together an issue of the literary magazine. And I teach a Writing 100 class focused on fashion and society, which is another course I love to teach.
Q. What is your favorite course to teach, and why?
It’s so much fun to teach creative writing. You never know what stories the students will come up with, and I love challenging them to think in a new way, to try something that might make them a little uncomfortable. Finding ways to connect to your unconscious thoughts and encourage your imagination and creativity — those skills have actually made my life better. So it’s not just for fun. Hopefully that process has a lasting impact on them.
Q. What do you like most about working at W&L?
The money. I’m kidding! Does everyone say the people? There are so many wonderful people — students and teachers. There’s a culture here of students and professors genuinely getting to know each another. And my colleagues! My fellow English professors are the best. I value them as teachers, writers, thinkers, and party-goers. That’s a lot to ask of a single group of people. They’re multi-talented!
Q. Where is your favorite location on the W&L campus?
Evans Hall in early December, Winter Wonderland. You’ll find me with a bag of candy in one hand and a root beer float in the other, slipping extra cupcakes into my son’s coat pocket. We live for it.
Q. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
I have two small children, a one-year-old and a five-year-old. So: sleeping. But we love to be outside, especially at Boxerwood. Boxerwood is honestly one of my favorite things about living in Lexington. That place is pure magic.
Q. Where did you grow up?
In a section of Philadelphia called Mt. Airy. One of the best places on earth. And home to one of the original WaWa stores. So I kind of grew up in WaWa.
Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to swim with the dolphins, professionally.
Q. What book are you reading now?
I’m always reading a physical copy of something and listening to something else. Right now I’m holding the book “Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch,” which I got through the life-affirming book swapping group that met at my house over break. I’m listening to an amazing novel called “Build Your House Around My Body” that is about Vietnam folklore and ghosts and so much more.
Q. What music are you listening to these days?
My husband, Zac, and I keep a Spotify playlist for every calendar year. When we hear a new song we like, we add it. This year’s list is just getting going, but it has songs from Panda Bear and Automatic and LCD Soundsystem and some other bands I had to look up because I can’t keep information like this in my head anymore.
Q. What is the website you visit most often?
Submittable! It’s where we accept submissions for Shenandoah. It’s always open on my computer. I read and read and read submissions, but more of them just keep coming. This is probably how I will die — while I’m trying to finish one more short story submission in Submittable.
Q. If you could have coffee with one person, who would it be?
My friend Ellen Harper McGarr, who died about 10 years ago. She wrote her own obituary before she died of cancer, and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. I miss her all the time.
Q. What is your desert island food?
Can I cheat and say a cheese plate? Cheese, obviously. But also tiny pickles. And this cheese plate has donuts.
Q. Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I have a vintage clothing shop on Etsy called Rummy Vintage. Going to thrift stores and estate sales to find clothes and strange things for my house is one of my favorite things to do!
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