Back from Ireland


Creative Writing class in Ireland

I’m back after spending most of the month of May teaching in Ireland. What an incredible experience! My students, who came from several Tennessee colleges, were some of the most creative students I’ve ever worked with. Ireland is a land of castles, sheep grazing in green pastures, Irish dancing, cliffs, the Aran Islands where people still speak the Irish language – I could go on.  The weather was not as perfect as everything else – too cold and rainy for my liking – but Ireland is truly a magical place and the Irish are warm and welcoming.  Yes, I’m glad to be home, but I’m so glad I had the experience!


My day job is teaching English. Since 2002 I have served on the English faculty at Nashville State Community College, where I have taught courses in composition, literature, and creative writing. I am editor of the literary magazine, Tetrahedra. I earned my B.S. in Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and received my M.A. in English from Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee, where the graduate program offered both creative thesis and scholarly thesis options. I submitted a creative thesis, a 90-page collection of stories entitled Listen to Me. Most of the stories have been published in literary journals and/or have received awards. My writing career spans three decades. My history of publication includes both fiction and nonfiction. I have published two novels and more than thirty stories and articles in literary journals, anthologies, and magazines. It was an honor for me when one of my stories appeared in HomeWorks in 1996. The anthology was a collection of works by Tennessee writers living at that time, including Alex Haley, Robert Penn Warren, and Peter Taylor. The highlight of my writing career occurred when I received the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Award in Fiction for 2006. Other writing achievements include the Leslie Garrett Fiction Prize awarded by the Knoxville Writers Guild, Tennessee Writers Alliance Short Story First Place Award, and the North Carolina Writers’ Workshop First Place Award in Creative Nonfiction. In 2005, I received a Pushcart nomination for my story, “Primates,” which was published in Bellevue Literary Review. My most recent award came from the Knoxville Writers’ Guild, the 2008 Creative Nonfiction First Place Award for my essay, “In the Car with Mother on Christmas Eve.” I am a founding member of the Tennessee Writers Alliance and served on its Board of Directors for ten years, including two terms as president and one as chair of the Board.

4 thoughts on “Back from Ireland

  1. Dennis Stafford

    Phyllis is a great teacher and I enjoyed her class in Ireland. I wish it had been longer, I could have learned so much more. It was good to have a class taught by someone who actually knows what she is talking about.
    I am reading a writer’s magazine and keep coming across things you taught us. Den

    • phyllisgobbell

      The class was successful because of the high level of student participation and the great quality of student writing. It all seems a little like a dream now, doesn’t it!

    • phyllisgobbell

      We were there 3 weeks – 44 student, 4 adults. I taught creative writing and had a wonderful group. Though we put in our 37.5 class hours, we also spent a lot of time seeing the sites – Kilkenny Castle, Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, Rock of Cashel – and just being immersed in the culture of the small town, Thurles, where the people were so warm and welcoming. If I were more skilled, I’d put up some photos. Maybe I’ll try anyway!

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