Class of 2008, BFA in Creative Writing
What was your favorite part of studying Creative Writing at UE?
My favorite element of studying Creative Writing at UE was the array of opportunities made available within an intimate environment (which is my copout way of saying “everything”). During my time at UE, I participated in the Summer Creative Writing Program in England; attended readings and lectures by visiting authors; published my work in the campus literary journal, Ohio River Review; wrote op-ed columns for The Crescent, UE’s newspaper; served as a reader and an intern, respectively, for The Evansville Review and Measure poetry journal; tutored fellow students at the Writing Center; submitted my work to the annual Creative Writing awards; engaged in discussion seminars on topics ranging from Grimm’s fairy tales to Emily Dickinson; and forged meaningful relationships with faculty and peers, alike. In short, UE allowed me to explore writing and literature from a variety of angles without sacrificing the sense of close-knit community that made those years special.
What did you experience in UE’s CRW department that feels special/unique to our program?
It was only after leaving UE, when I began to hear more about people’s experiences at different colleges, that I truly understood how rare and special it was to be surrounded by professors who cared—cared about their students, their teaching methods, their subject areas, and higher education, itself. I felt both supported and challenged throughout the duration of my studies, and I’m so grateful for that. The BFA at UE also equipped me with valuable professional skills. For example, my first two short stories were published while I was still a student at UE—one in the undergraduate journal Prairie Margins, and the other in Harpur Palate. I knew how to find calls for submission, format a manuscript, write a cover letter, and take care of those other nitty-gritty details because I took Copy Editing, a class at UE that covered submitting creative works for publication consideration; I also gained critical “behind-the-scenes” perspective by working on The Evansville Review and Measure. When I began grad school, I was surprised to discover that many of my peers—though incredibly talented writers—had no idea how to send their poems and stories out into the world, once they were finished. It’s great that UE’s Creative Writing program pays attention to the pragmatic side of the writing life.
What was your favorite Creative Writing class and why?
Any of the workshop-based classes I took at UE would be obvious contenders for “favorite class,” as these workshops played crucial roles in developing my confidence and craft as a writer. The professors were unfailingly supportive and pushed all students to produce their best work. However, in picking a favorite class, I’m going with an option that would bewilder the bygone, undergraduate Alice: Introduction to Poetry Writing. This class focused exclusively on formal poetry rather than free verse. We learned dactylic hexameter and trochaic tetrameter and iambic pentameter; we wrote sonnets and ballades and villanelles. Frankly, I hated Intro to Poetry while I was taking it: “Why so many tedious restrictions, when all I want to do is write free verse?” But, as time passed, I came to appreciate how integral this course work was in shaping my awareness of language, of its rhythms and textures. The class was so thorough that I felt fully at ease when teaching metrical scansion to students of my own, years down the line. Although I now primarily write fiction, concepts absorbed in Intro to Poetry still influence my style and editing decisions.
What are you up to now?
I received my MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas in 2015, and I’m now pursuing my PhD in English at the University of Southampton in the UK. I recently designed and led a poetry-writing module for the university’s Lifelong Learning sector, and I’m teaching an Art and Craft of Fiction module for the Creative Writing MA programme.
I am writing a historical novel as part of my PhD thesis, so that takes up most of my time and energy, at the moment! However, I’m also revising the collection of linked short stories that I produced during my MFA, and I plan to have that manuscript ready for publication consideration, soon. Since leaving UE, my work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Post Road, Nimrod, Best of Ohio Short Stories, Yalobusha Review, and elsewhere; my awards include a Literary Arts Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council.
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