Faculty Spotlight: Kris Lee

Casanda Anderson


 Kris Lee lists Southern writers among his influences. Photo by Casanda Anderson.

Kris Lee lists Southern writers among his influences. Photo by Casanda Anderson.

This spotlight features Professor Kris Lee, who has two Master’s degrees and more than 20 years of experience. Lee recently began his first full year as W faculty member in the new MFA in Creative Writing program.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to teach?
A: “I started teaching my stuffed animals when I was probably 4 or 5. I grew up with, um, a lot of educators in my family, so yeah, it was just a thing to pattern after. I guess I’ve known since then.”

Q: Was the collegiate level your first choice to teach? 
A: “Oh yes, absolutely. Oh yeah, you can’t beat the holiday schedule. I did teach fourth grade for a brief period as sort of a step-in for a teacher who got sick while I was in grad school. But yes, I have always wanted to teach at the collegiate level. I like being able to leave a lesson in the classroom then move on to a different thing, you know at a much faster pace.”

Q: What brought you to The W?
A: “As soon as I heard they were starting a MFA program in the birthplace of Tennessee Williams - who I’ve studied and adored as a playwright since I was able to read - there was never a question in my mind where I wanted to be. And I was just in the right place at the right time. I was fortunate to be in this area when this program took off.”

Q: Who are your biggest inspirations? Who made you want to become a writer?
A: “Well, Tennessee Williams, absolutely. Edna St. Vincent, Flanner O’Connor, Eudora Welty - who also went to school here - and even Faulkner. I enjoyed reading him when I was younger even though I didn’t really understand him then. Oscar Wilde, those are my biggest inspirations.”

Q: What is something from your college experience that you’ve learned that you think others should know?
A: “Well, I’ll tell you that the biggest enemy is time. You know, you go off to college and want to party and want to do all the things that movies tell you that you should do when you get to college. But it’s really about managing expectations and time. You can’t stay in the classroom all the time. You got to learn how to live in and out of it.”

Q: What are some of your goals for this semester?
A: “I’m also still a publishing writer. I’m working on two different scripts, so my goal is first not to lose my mind, remind myself to breathe, and then also at the end of this semester, I would like my students to have a full experience with a working writer in these classes, then talk about literature, and why and how to appreciate it. I also want to have two completed drafts of two completely different plays finished.”