Mill Valley, CA – Maxine Chernoff is an acclaimed novelist and poet, and former chair of the creative writing program at San Francisco State University.
A writer for over 40 years, Chernoff started composing poetry in her late teens and early 20s, around the time of the Vietnam War.
“The events in our culture have always interested me,” says Chernoff, “as well as the personal insights you can discover from just the experience of being alive in contemporary culture, personally and particularly as a woman.”
Chernoff has published three fiction novels (A Boy in Winter, American Heaven and Plain Grief) three selections of short stories (Some of Her Friends That Year: New & Selected Stories, Signs of Devotion and Bop) and 15 volumes of poetry.
She says because she started in poetry, she has the ability to be concise and precise and visual, and those skills have carried over into her fiction.
“What I have to do is create more of a sense of a character's fullness and their relationship with other characters, which you don't have to worry about in a poem,” says Chernoff. “When I'm writing novels, the characters in my mind are like a second family. I live with the characters and get to know them.”
Before you can strike out on your own as a writer, you need to know what's come before you, what we've learned from those great writers, and how we can reshape it in a way that suits our moment and our particular voice. As a professor of creative writing at San Francisco State for over 20 years, Chernoff is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of talented artists.