VOLUME 23 #2

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Title: Office hours with Mark Bowden

A look inside the office of UD’s Distinguished Writer in Residence

Photos by Evan Krape

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Click on the image above to take a look inside the office of UD’s Distinguished Writer in Residence.

OUR FACULTY | Before the bestsellers, the lifetime achievement awards and the Black Hawk Down blockbuster, Mark Bowden was a skilled Philadelphia Inquirer (Inky) reporter who, on occasion, wrote poorly organized stories. The Inky’s famous Bill Eddins—“one of the greats”—never edited Bowden’s work with a pen. “He’d just call you in, engage you in conversation, ask you to tell him the story,” Bowden remembers. “You’d leave thinking you had the best way to restructure the article, as if you came up with the idea yourself.”

It’s the same deft style Bowden employs with his own students. When a class of aspiring sports writers submitted listless prose—“At one point I asked, ‘Do you guys even like sports?’”—he interviewed one of the students, Emma, a budding journalist and member of the golf team, in front of the class. When she said she was perfecting her putting game, he asked her to clarify what that meant. When she detailed her latest technique—holding up one hand and aligning the flag pole with her outer finger, and then looking for the point where the green intersected on the other side of her hand—he noticed a classroom transformed. The students were fascinated. One even wrote his next article on Emma’s approach. “My point was that the goal when interviewing athletes was to pick their minds, to learn something new from them.”

Bowden has served as an adjunct journalism professor since 2010, teaching two undergraduate classes a semester. This fall, he will lead a course on science writing and another called “Telling True Stories,” which explores how stories change on their journey from news report to the silver screen. “There are very few things I’m qualified to teach,” he says. “But showing students how to be better writers? That I can do.”

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