John Tiedemann teaches writing and rhetoric in the University Writing Program at the University of Denver, where he is also the Director of the Social Justice Living and Learning Community. As a teacher, he is concerned with writing as a public phenomenon, one through which a community creates, sustains, and transforms itself.
Believing self-expression to be a basic human need and literacy to be a fundamental right, much of John’s work as a writer treats writing as a social practice involving the wider community. As co-founder of the Community Writing Center, he has worked with writers at the Saint Francis Center and The Gathering Place, two homeless shelters in downtown Denver, to compose memoirs, fictions, and poetry. At present, he is launching the Documentary Arts Project, through which members of the Denver community will record their lives in writing, photographs, video, and sound, creating a shared archive of materials out of which artists and activists will collaborate to construct representations of the collective experience of the community. These projects reflect John’s commitment to reconceiving the art of writing: for John, writing is not only an individual affair but a collaborative social enterprise, and he therefore seeks to develop forms of expression capable of accommodating the multiple voices of the community.
John is also at work currently on a novel entitled “The Man Who Would Do Good,” a picaresque tale of the complications that ensue from one man’s efforts to commit a single wholly and unambiguously good act.