Coaching & Editing Clients
Neil’s skilled, objective poetic eye has helped me work through quite a few poem revisions and rewrites as I work on my next full-length poetry manuscript. And his constructive feedback as well as his kind correspondence have stuck in my mind as I write new poems for this same body of work. His book-reading recommendations, which he takes great time and thought to compile, also have been instrumental in helping me remember that risk taking in writing can be embraced. I’m more at home when I take some writing risks but haven’t felt too comfortable with this in quite some time, until recently working with Neil. Furthermore, his input has been clear and sensible—poetically, intellectually, and emotionally—giving me the opportunity to come to my own decisions on the content and conveyance of my poems. He has helped me feel like a writer again, especially at a point in my life when writing and publishing have been challenging.
—Theresa Senato Edwards, author of Painting Czeslawa Kwoka and Voices Through Skin
“I worked with Neil at a time in which I was stuck with a particular short story. I had done at least ten revisions and had workshopped it at least five times. What I wanted from Neil was not only a fresh pair of eyes, but also a poet’s precision with language. Neil offered more than I could have hoped for and I am indebted to his edits. He also identified key themes in my writing that few could see, myself included. He was kind, attentive, thorough, and most importantly, very patient with his edits, encouraging me always to dig deeper with each character. I recommend him without any hesitation.”
Neil helped me immensely and I am so grateful for his time, skill, and advice. I consulted Neil when I needed help with ordering my first full-length poetry manuscript. The manuscript was making its way to the finalist round of a few contests, but it wasn’t winning, and I was starting to feel like it was time to move on from the project, at least temporarily. Luckily, a friend referred me to Neil. I told Neil that I needed some assistance finding the right order for the poems.
Talking with him was not only fun, but extremely helpful—he is a genius at ordering poems, finding narrative arcs and giving the poems a beautiful trajectory that I didn’t originally see on my own. Sometimes we’re too immersed in our projects to see the broader picture. I came to trust his arrangement skills so much that I scheduled a second session with him. He was the first person to suggest the book’s title. When we landed on it, we laughed—it suddenly seemed obvious. We discussed how some editors would love it and some would hate it, but it had to be the title. I slowly began to submit to contests again.
Shortly after our second session, my manuscript was selected as a winner of Trio House Press’ open reading period. It will be published in 2020, and Neil will definitely be in the acknowledgements! I am so grateful for his time and help and highly recommend working with him. He helped me achieve a lifelong dream, giving me hope and assistance at vital times.
—Madeleine Barnes, poet and author of You Do Not Have to Be Good.
Neil is simply phenomenal. His extremely diverse background and experiences allow him to be very well-versed in a large variety of different subjects, much more than can even be imagined for one person. He’s like the ocean: always more layers, more depths that haven’t been previously seen (and all this at your disposal for your own creative journey!). I’ve used him for both creative nonfiction and screenwriting – two very different genres and I have to say each time I have felt understood, nurtured, guided and renewed with purpose.
—Elaine Wang, poet, memoirist, screenwriter, artist, and actor
Writing is a notoriously solitary endeavor. Working with Neil is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be so. Neil helps bring accountability and structure to my writing practice. His insightful and intelligent feedback has prompted me to hone in on central questions and themes in my work. He also has terrific advice on where to submit work, and keeps me motivated to send my work out into the world. Neil is extraordinarily well-read and knowledgeable about all things poetry and literature and I can count on him to recommend just the right book at the right time. If you’re feeling stuck, or want a fresh set of eyes to help you unlock new possibilities in your work, Neil is the writing coach to call.
—Annette Wong, poet and mindfulness coach
I’ve had the privilege of working with Neil since February (2017). I brought some raw material and a willingness to be critiqued and taught. Neil has guided me in composition and craft, but most especially in revision, helping me not to be afraid of pruning and rearranging to bring the heart of what I’m trying to express to the sleeves of my poems. He is a widely read and deeply interested scholar who has sent me racing down paths of poets and their ideas that could help me grow. He’s personable and kind. My writing often exposes deeply painful and sometimes shameful experiences—he takes this in stride, but does not hold back from our purpose—shaping good poetry that could be meaningful to others. Since working with him I have had several poems published, and many personal rejections showing me my growth as a poet. Neil was absolutely instrumental in this.
—Ethan Cole, poet and K9 dog trainer
Not only is Neil extremely well-read and passionate about all different kinds of literature, but he frames feedback in a way that is constructive and gentle. His criticisms of my work always make me feel empowered. It could be as simple as asking questions that force me to reconsider why I made a certain choice in my writing. After our sessions, I’m excited to go back and revise, or write to the prompt that he has just given me.
Neil always approaches my work from a very open place. He never tries to make my poem to conform to his own aesthetic. He is also unafraid to discuss the challenging, and deeply personal, topics that were inspiration for many of my poems: identity, grief, and injustice. He has also helped me find publications and contests that would be good places for me to submit.
I have a lot of trust in Neil. He genuinely cares about my work and making it be the best it can be. As writers, we always need people in our corners to champion us, to push us to keep putting ourselves out there, to pick ourselves up after a few punches, to write through them, reminding us that there is a value in what we can create. I’m so honored that Neil is in mine.
—Allison Albino, poet and French teacher
Neil is a wonderful writing coach. He has the incredible ability to see where a student needs to go with their work and then helpfully nudges them in the right direction. His feedback is thoughtful and direct, and he finds exercises and readings which directly apply to their strengths and weaknesses. My writing has improved in both clarity and strength since I started working with Neil.
—Tiffany Babb, poet, comic creator, and comic critic
Neil was like a breath of fresh air, someone who got what I was doing, sometimes even before I realized what I was about. Neil enjoyed complicated material and wasn’t afraid of the exploration that could in the end arrive at unexpected places. I believe he went with his gut and recognized our obsessions. What made Neil so special was his ability to pick up on the imagery, tone and narrative of a poem quicker than anyone I knew. He was able to make a whole project of a single poem and I was grateful for that. He was open with his rich background and his insights gave him the ability to work with people at all levels. His dedication to everyone’s writing helped us learn from each other.
—Barbara Maloutas, author of Coffee Hazily, Her Not Blessed, The Whole Marie, and In a Combination of Practices.
I don’t have any formal training in the art of poetry… so my decision to take the workshop was not for the poetry, but for the topic of sorrow and joy and my hope to connect with these emotions on a deeper level. And I did! Neil has a great gift of making poetry accessible to someone like me who may not consider herself a trained poet but has a need to express ideas creatively and poetically from time to time. What I believe makes Neil a great teacher is that he does not have a compulsive need to ‘teach’ and lecture, but rather allows and trusts his students to reach into themselves for their unique truths… I left feeling like Neil was part teacher, part psychotherapist, part magician”
—Anonymous, workshop participant at Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival