Pat Schneider

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Pat Schneider
Pat Schneider
Pat Schneider
Born(1934-06-01)1 June 1934
Ava, Missouri, U.S.
OccupationPoet, writer, editor, writing teacher

Pat Schneider is an American writer, poet, writing teacher and editor.


Schneider was born in Ava, Missouri in 1934. She was educated at Central College in Missouri, and earned her MA from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. In 1979 she became a graduate of the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[1]

Schneider lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was the Founder/Director of Amherst Writers & Artists and editor of Amherst Writers & Artists Press,[2] which has published forty-two books of poetry and the national literary journal, Peregrine. Schneider has been adjunct faculty member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She has led creative writing workshops at the University of Massachusetts, Smith College, Limavadi College (Northern Ireland) and the University of Connecticut. She has taught in Ireland, in Japan, and at the Graduate Theological Union in California, where she has also been Playwright in Residence and led annual and bi-annual workshops at the Pacific School of Religion. She has also led workshops in Smith College's School for Social Work and for residents of public housing in Chicopee, Massachusetts.[3]

An annual poetry contest, the Pat Scheider Poetry Contest, was established in her honor by Amherst Writers and Artists in 2011.[4] Schneider has four children, all of them published authors: Rebecca Schneider, Laurel Schneider, Paul Schneider and Bethany Schneider.[citation needed]

Schneider's published works are archived at the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, and her papers are to be there upon her death.[5]

Publications and awards[edit]


Schneider has published five books of poetry: Another River: New and Selected Poems" (2005) "The Patience of Ordinary Things" (2003) Olive Street Transfer (1999) Long Way Home (1993)White River Junction (1987),[6][7]

Her poetry has been published widely in literary journals and magazines, including Sewanee Review, Minnesota review, Ms. Magazine, and Negative Capability. Her poems have been featured on The Writer's Almanac sixteen times.[8]

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

From "The Patience of Ordinary Things"
The Patience of Ordinary Things - 2003[9]

Nonfiction books[edit]

How The Light Gets In, Writing As a Spiritual Practice, Oxford University Press, New York NY, 2013"[10]

Writing Alone and With Others, Oxford University Press, New York, 2003.

Wake Up Laughing: A Spiritual Autobiography, Negative Capability Press, Mobile, Alabama, 1997.[11] "Schneider’s honesty and courage in recounting her journey encourages readers to boldly examine unexpected stops and turns in their own lives, a heady task for any book.”[12]

In Our Own Voices: Writing by Women in Low-Income Housing. (Editor, Introduction and Afterward) Published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press, Amherst, MA, 1989. Second edition, 1995.[13]

The Writer as an Artist: A New Approach to Writing Alone and With Others. Lowell House, Los Angeles, CA, Hard cover,1993. Paperback, 1994.

Produced and published plays[edit]

Fourteen of her plays have been produced, nine published. There are more than 300 recorded productions of her plays in this country and in Europe, including these titles:

"After the Applebox," From Valley Playwrights Theatre, Playwright's Press, Vol. II, 1986, Amherst, MA. Commissioned by Cooper Community Center, Roxbury, Massachusetts. Premier production in Boston, Massachusetts, subsequent productions on Cape Cod Massachusetts (Fisherman's Players); in San Anselmo, California (Festival Theater); Northampton, Massachusetts (directed and acted by Smith College Theater Department Faculty at East Street Theater, Hadley, MA); New London, Connecticut (Connecticut College Theater Department); First production, 1989.

"A Question of Place," From Valley Playwrights Theatre Playwright's Press, 1986, Vol. I. Commissioned by Historic Deerfield, Inc., Deerfield, Massachusetts, l983. Premier performances July l-4, l983. Produced again, seven performances, in 1984.

Crossroad to Bethlehem: A Christmas Celebration. Boston: Baker's Plays l970. Musical play. Music and lyrics published separately. Composer: A.L. Born. Seventy- one productions reported to date by the publisher.


Schneider is an alumnus of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop. Her libretti have been recorded by the Louisville Symphony and performed by Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony in Boston's Symphony Hall and in Carnegie Hall, New York City. Published and recorded libretti include:

The Lament of Michal. Commissioned and recorded by the Louisville Symphony Orchestra.[14] Golden Edition series: Stereo LS 704. Composer: Philip Rhodes. Performed by Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta, Boston, and Carnegie Hall. Commissioned 1970; Recorded and performed in Carnegie Hall 1980.

My Holy Mountain: An Oratorio. Commissioned by the New World Choir, a 40 voice all Black choir, Newton, MA. Composer: Florence Clark Turner. More than 50 performances in New England. 1971

I Have a Dream: A Black History Oratorio. 1970. Commissioned by the New World Choir, a 40 voice all Black choir. Recorded by Soundtrack Records. Widely produced by the New World Choir throughout New England including television production and more than 100 performances at community centers and universities. Composer: Florence Clark Turner.


She has been the recipient of literary prizes, and grants from the Danforth Foundation, the Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Awards, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.[15]

AWA writing workshop method[edit]

The University of Iowa began offering creative writing courses in 1897, and began using the term "writing workshop" in 1939; by the 1970s hundreds of writing workshops were offered by colleges, libraries and private groups.[16] Scott B Kaufman and James Kaufman describe a "brutal atmosphere in educational and professional writing circles. ...that was often masked as 'critique." ...Starting in the 1970s a popular reaction to this culture emerged as individual teachers sought new ways to teach creative writing."[17]

Schneider began to develop the AWA method for teaching writing in workshops and other groups in 1979.[18] Working with a community of writers in Amherst, Massachusetts, she explored ways to conduct a writing class/workshop that would honor the "primary voice," encouraging students to trust what the writer John Edgar Wideman has called "the language of home."[19] She further cites the writer Paule Marshall who has written: "When people at readings and writers' conferences ask me who my major influences were... I always acknowledge before all others: the group of women around the table long ago. They taught me my first lessons in the narrative art. They trained my ear. They set a standard of excellence. This is why the best of my work must be attributed to them; it stands as testimony to the rich legacy of language and culture they so freely passed on to me in the wordshop of the kitchen."[20]

In 1985, Schneider offered workshops to women living in public housing in Chicopee, Massachusetts. "On Sunday nights for the past eight years, the Chicopee Writing Workshop has been changing lives. ...'The most important change,' Pat says, 'is the way the women see themselves.'"[21] Schneider chose to develop the workshop for women in public housing because she believes "there is no difference between the rich and the poor in this: writing is art, and our own stories are the stuff of which our freedom is made, our self esteem, our power."[22]

In 1990 Schneider's workshops "became so popular... [Schneider] had to encourage some of her students to break away and start their own groups using her techniques.[23] Beginning in 2004 Schneider began training other writers to become workshop leaders. Over 1000 writers are now recognized as AWA-certified workshop leaders who have led workshops in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.[24] Workshops are built around a set of essential affirmations and practices.

Five Essential AWA Affirmations[edit]

  • Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
  • Everyone is born with creative genius.
  • Writing as an art form belongs to all people.
  • Craft can be taught without damaging the writer’s voice or self-esteem.
  • A writer is someone who writes.[25]


  1. ^ "Pat Schneider". Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  2. ^ Codrescu, Andrei (1999-01-01). Thus spake the Corpse: an Exquisite corpse reader, 1988-1998. David R. Godine Publisher. p. 481. ISBN 978-1-57423-100-7. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  3. ^ Benvenuto, Christine (December 10, 1993). "Finding a Voice". Amherst Bulletin: 24.
  4. ^ "Pat Schneider Poetry Contest". Amherst Writers & Artists. Amherst Writers and Artists.
  5. ^ "Sophia Smith Collection".
  6. ^ "Poems and Poets/Pat Schneider". The Poetry Foundation.
  7. ^ "Contributors". The Sun (481): 2. January 2016.
  8. ^ Garrison, Keillor. "The Writer's Almanac".
  9. ^ "The Patience of Ordinary Things". Your Daily Poem. Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  10. ^ Schneider, Pat (2013). How the Light Gets In. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199933983.
  11. ^ Schneider, Pat (1997). Wake Up Laughing. Mobile, Alabama: Negative Capability Press. ISBN 0942544544.
  12. ^ Corrigan, Patricia (October 29, 2003). "The Write Stuff: Author Says Everyone Has it". St. Louis Post Dispatch.
  13. ^ In Our Own Voices: Writing by Women from the Chicopee Writing Workshop. Amherst, Massachusetts: AWA Press. ISBN 0941895041.
  14. ^ "Magnificent Entertainment". Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky. March 20, 1971.
  15. ^ Pick, Nancy (December 8, 1993). "Writer Helps Others". Daily Hampshire Gazette.
  16. ^ Ziegler, Alan (2008). The Writing Workshop Notebook. Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press. p. 96.
  17. ^ Kaufman, Scott B.; Kaufman, James C. (2009). The Psychology of Creative Writing. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 316.
  18. ^ Schneider, Pat (2003). Writing Aone and With Others. New York: Oxford University Press.
  19. ^ Wideman, John Edgar (January 13, 1985). "The Language of Home". The New York Times Book Review.
  20. ^ Marshall, Paule (January 9, 1983). "The Poets in the Kitchen". The New York Times Book Review.
  21. ^ Whittemore, Katharine (August 22, 1993). "A Celebration of Words". The Boston Globe.
  22. ^ Schneider, Pat (1994). "Tell Me Something I Can't Forget". Inside Out: Pacific School of Religion Alumnae Newsletter.
  23. ^ Contrada, Fred (April 22, 1991). "Writing Belongs to All". Springfield Union-News: 12.
  24. ^ "AWA Leadership Training". Amherst Writers and Artists. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  25. ^ Chandler, Genevieve C.; Schneider, Pat (2009). "Creation and Response: Wellspring to Evaluation". Kaufman 2009. p. 322.

External links[edit]