The voice of De Anza since 1967.

Former poet laureate, English instructor urges students to free their imagination3 min read

May 3, 2016


If you’ve seen a professor walking the halls of the campus, mumbling to himself, than you’ve mostly likely seen Dave Denny.

Denny, an English instructor at De Anza College, spends his time writing books, primarily pieces of poetry as well as short stories. He has published a total of eight books and was the poet laureate of Cupertino.

Each book takes around five years, because his writing schedule is very haphazard as a result of his teaching career at De Anza. His most recent book “The Gill Man in Purgatory” is his first piece composed entirely of short stories.

“I spend more time in my head than most people, which definitely plays into my vivid imagination,” said Denny.

Denny pulls inspiration from nature and the world around him. His stories hold a heavy focus on everyday issues as well as stories of redemption.

“My stories also follow narratives of sadness and violence that lead towards epiphanies and light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-type messages,” said Denny. “Some of my stories are realistic, and others are more fantastic.”

From book to book, Denny feels that he has grown and developed both his writing and skills.

“Over time, I’ve definitely gained more confidence as well as a firmer sense of theme and a better idea of context, which took a while to figure out,” said Denny.

Denny holds closely to his heart the classes he teaches at De Anza. He has taught almost every class offered in the English department over his 30 years here, from composition and developmental classes, to creative writing.

“My writing definitely influences how I teach, and I emphasize form and style in my classes,” said Denny. “I use my books to teach what I’m focusing on in the class, often using them for lessons and writing prompts for analysis.”

Leonard Mohr, 25, English major, took Denny’s introduction to poetry course in the winter quarter.

We sleepwalk in our day-today lives, and I hope to write things that wake people up to the magic of reality”

— Dave Denny, English Instructor

“I think since [Denny] writes poetry, it helps him more thoroughly understanding writing in general, specifically understanding the various aspects of it, which really helps him be a good teacher,” said Mohr.

“There are probably many people who have an aversion to poetry, especially because it can get super complicated and confusing. He doesn’t [teach] too much poetry that’s tough to understand, making poetry a much easier and exciting undertaking.”

Denny spends much of his time in the community, especially through poetry readings at a wide variety of local venues. His passionate and engaging performances have gained him much traction in the past few years within the Cupertino community.

Denny was unanimously voted as Cupertino’s first Poet Laureate in 2011, a two year position granted by the city of Cupertino.

He received the position for bringing groups together for free public events to encourage writing for both new and seasoned writers, including poetry readings, workshops and contests.

Denny pulls his ideas and creativity often from everyday events around him, and he hopes to inspire others to do the same. In the future, Denny wants to keep teaching as well as writing for as long as he can.

“I have a goal in everything that I write, which is to help people live more intensely and see things around them,” he said. “We sleepwalk in our day-to-day lives, and I hope to write things that wake people up to the magic of reality.”

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