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After Hours: Ross White

Ross White, administrator, poet, comedian

Position: Director of Distance Education, Instructor of Humanities

Years at NCSSM: 3 years

Home: Durham  

Best part of his job: “The kids. Our residential and online students are the most inquisitive, the most generous, and the most earnest students I’ve ever worked with. It’s hard not to fall in love with them every day.”   

Favorite perk of working at NCSSM: “The kids! And that I get to teach along with the other stuff that I do.” 

What he does outside of work: Ross runs a publishing company, Bull City Press, that he started in 2006. He publishes mostly poetry, some prose. “I work with an all-volunteer staff from all over the country, and we’re dedicated to making sure that young and emerging poets have venues to publish great books.”

An accomplished poet himself, he has published his work in dozens of journals including New England Review, Poetry Daily, and The Southern Review. His debut poetry chapbook, How We Came Upon the Colony, was published in 2014 by Unicorn Press.

A few times a year Ross takes part in The Grind Daily Writing Series, in which small groups of writers agree to send each other a new piece of writing every day for a month. “Poets are supposed to write a new poem every day,” he says, “so you end up writing like 28 bad poems and three that you’re like, ‘Heck yeah.’” Together with Matthew Olzmann, he has edited a collection of works from the first few years of Grind groups, Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series (Bull City Press, 2012).

Read “Quae Nocent Saepe Docent,” a poem by Ross White

One thing his coworkers might not know: Ross once co-owned DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro, and he performed and taught comedy for 16 years in a number of cities. That experience seeps into one of the classes he teaches at NCSSM, Gram-O-Rama, a grammar and creative writing class. The course has its roots in the English department at UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1970s. Ross later inherited the class while teaching at Chapel Hill, then brought it to NCSSM. It follows the same model — students write and perform skits around grammar concepts such as passive voice and parts of speech. Fun fact: as a student at Chapel Hill in the 1970s, NCSSM Dean of Humanities Elizabeth Moose took the Gram-O-Rama course with its original teacher.

One thing about working here that he’d do differently: “I wish that approaching things in an entrepreneurial spirit would be viewed more enthusiastically. We have a lot to share with the world, and there are a lot of students out there who really want a part of the NCSSM experience.”

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