Tim Z. Hernandez
Assistant Professor, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Tim Hernandez is an award-winning writer and performance artist. He has written three volumes of poetry, two novels, and most recently, a documentary novel based on the 1948 Los Gatos plane crash. As a performance artist, he has worked with Grammy Award-winners, hip-hop performers and Latin Rock artists; his work has been featured in a variety of venues including the Getty Center.
Hernandez’s first poetry collection and first novel both won awards—the 2006 American Book Award and the 2010 Premio Aztlán Literary Prize respectively. In 2011, the Poetry Society of America named him one of sixteen New American Poets and he has been featured extensively in news media including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, C-Span Book TV, Public Radio International, and National Public Radio. For more details on his work and awards, please visit the Creative Writing website.
The subjects he teaches:
(I teach) Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry. I also teach foundational courses, such as Narrative Theory & Poetics, as well as more specialized courses, like Variable Topics: Turning Research Into Writing, Antropoesia, and Social Action Writing.
Where his passion comes from:
I’ve always been interested in the power of our stories, and the exchange of stories through different genres and mediums. For this reason, a lot of what I teach tends to be hybrid, in terms of the approach. I grew up listening to stories, and (am) interested in the power of art, literature, dance, music, and theater.
His proudest accomplishment and biggest challenge as an online instructor:
Seeing my students go on to have their work published is the proudest of all achievements. That, and the moment they graduate too.
I think the largest challenge I have with online teaching is not being able to see the students face to face on a daily basis, as we do in residential courses. After working with them so much online, you build a personal connection, and the next natural step seems to meet them, and sometimes we get to, but not always.
On what makes a successful online student:
A student that is self-motivated, and disciplined enough to commit to doing the work without having an instructor constantly over their shoulder. A student that engages with the work, and with their peers, in a creative and effective way.
One piece of advice he has for his students:
Don’t give up! Online work can be daunting at times, well, any graduate program can, but you have to keep your eyes on the prize, and persist. Especially as it pertains to creative writing. The industry of book publishing is 99.9% online these days, so it’s true to the work in that way. If you can stay resilient and motivated in the program you will no doubt do well in the world outside of the University.