As Orange Coast College says goodbye to Creative Writing instructor Davi Loren upon her retirement, it says goodbye to an instructor who helped guide her students through a form of creativity honed or simply discovered.
During her 20 years at OCC, Loren taught various creative writing classes, including script writing and novel writing.
“Writing is performance art, and like many art forms, it is often profoundly personal,” Loren said. “The process of building a poem or short story gives writers cover to speak their truths, using fiction and poetry as the delivery system.”
In addition to teaching, she also brought back the Orange Coast Review, OCC’s journal of literature and art.
After OCC English instructor Raymond Obstfeld established the Orange Coast Review in the 1990s, it soon discontinued as a result of funding cuts. In 2005, Loren revived the magazine. She re-formatted the literary journal so that students would have a place to showcase their work alongside emerging and published writers and artists.
“It’s exciting to see a student writer’s work unfold and to help that writer shape the work for a larger audience,” Loren said. “And it’s fascinating to see how a painting or a photograph created by a student writer relates to their story.”
The arts have always played an important role in Loren’s life. Growing up in the heart of New York City, she came from a family of performers and musicians.
“Much of my childhood was spent in theaters and opera houses, wandering through Central Park and the Met Museum,” Loren said.
Loren said she left New York in 1977 because she fell in love with California.
During the 1980s, Loren worked in film production and development for a major studio. In the 1990s, while raising two kids, she collected three degrees — a master’s degree in poetry at Cal State Northridge and a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from UC Irvine.
Loren started as a part-time creative writing teacher at Orange Coast College in 1998, and hired full-time in 2001.
Her creative writing classes have benefitted English majors and non-English majors alike.
“Davi’s class allowed me to break out of my comfort zone and forced me to push myself to work on things that I would never have otherwise worked on my own,” English major Adan Remirez, 30, said. “Her class gave me the confidence to share my work with others and not take it personal. I incorporated her instruction into my personal life as well as my writing.”
Chemistry major Jocelyn Rodriguez, 20, agreed.
“I took away concepts from her class that I’ve been able to apply to science, of all things,” she said. “Davi helped me to see that there are stories only I can share. In realizing this, my writing became more honest and less aware of itself.”
For Loren, this is what teaching is about.
“I’m not convinced it’s possible to teach someone to write, but it’s certainly possible to provide a nurturing environment that can stimulate ideas,” Loren said. “OCC creative writing students have produced remarkable stories and poems.”
When asked how teaching has enriched her own life, she said that she is moved by “the intelligence, decency and optimism of our students. Getting to know them even a little has given me hope for the future,” Loren said.
She plans on devoting her future time and energy on writing and painting.
“The last decade has been all about teaching and editing,” she said. “I’ve had the good fortune to work with thousands of talented students, doing my best to help them develop their ideas and unique talents. I look forward now to getting back to my own writing and painting.”