By many accounts, Roy Peter Clark
is America’s writing coach, a teacher devoted to creating a nation of
writers. A Google search on his name
reveals an astonishing web of influence, not just in the United States,
but also around the world. His work has erased many boundaries. A Ph.D.
in medieval literature, he is widely considered one of the most
influential writing teachers in the rough-and-tumble world of newspaper
journalism. With a deep background in traditional media, his work has
illuminated, on the Internet, the discussion of writing. He has gained
fame by teaching writing to children, and he has nurtured Pulitzer
Prize-winning writers such as Thomas French and Diana Sugg.
He is a teacher who writes, and a writer who teaches. That combination
gives his most recent book, “Writing Tools,” a special credibility.
More credibility comes from Clark’s long service at The Poynter
Institute. Clark has worked full-time at Poynter since 1979 as director
of the writing center, dean of the faculty, senior scholar and vice
Clark was born in 1948 on the Lower East Side of New York City and
raised on Long Island, where he attended Catholic schools. He graduated
from Providence College in Rhode Island with a degree in English and earned a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1977 Clark was hired by the St. Petersburg Times to become one of America’s first writing coaches. He worked with the American Society of Newspaper Editors
to improve newspaper writing nationwide. Because of his work with ASNE,
Clark was elected as a distinguished service member, a rare honor for a
journalist who has never edited a newspaper.
Clark is the author or editor of 14 books on journalism and writing.
These include “Free to Write: A Journalist Teaches Young Writers”;
Writers: Editors and Reporters Working Together Across Media
Platforms”; “America’s Best Newspaper Writing”; “The Values and Craft
of American Journalism”; “The Changing South of Gene Patterson:
Journalism and Civil Rights, 1960-1968″; and, most recently, “Writing
Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.”