Saturday, May 8, 2010

Five Questions with Logan Allen

Today's graduating senior interview is with Logan Allen, who set up the Anne Rice skype interview this past January...

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

Many people complain about the way Belmont’s general education is set up. We do have a lot of extra classes and requirements that most universities don’t have: Third Year Writing, Theories of Writing, Junior and Senior Seminar, and Senior Capstone. But looking back, those classes were a joy and got me thinking about what I want to accomplish during by time at Belmont and what I want to do after I graduate. Of course in my writing classes I’ve learned to hone my writing skills, but I feel like my experience at Belmont would be incomplete without those general education courses listed above, because they reminded me of the big picture. At Belmont I’ve had a near perfect blend of learning to better myself intellectually and professionally, and I think that’s unique in an English program.

What are your immediate post-graduation plans (including educational/professional ones)?

I want to write novels, travel memoirs, and articles for food and travel magazines. I also want to continue my education. So I’ve decided to take a year off from school, complete the novel I’m working on, and try to get my foot in the door in the magazine industry. I plan on starting small, writing for local and trade magazines to work my way up to bigger publications—this is a long-term goal. I want to be published in any way, shape, or form. The industry is changing dramatically, and that’s scary, but it’s also exciting, because it’s a revolution of sorts. My generation is the generation that will shape the industry for the future.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

African American writing has become one of my favorite genres. The authors James Baldwin, W.E.B Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and Fredrick Douglas have been some of my favorites. I was reluctant to read them at first because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to relate to them. And, I admit, I thought they would make me feel guilty about being a white man. The opposite was true. I marveled at the eloquence of the literature and deeply connected with their struggles. And they reminded me of injustices that still happen today: racism, sexism, and discrimination based on sexual orientation. Their stories are the stories of outsiders, and everybody feels like an outsider at some point in their lives.

True or False: "April is the cruellest month."

April is the cruelest. But I try to remind myself that at least I’m doing something that I love. I if I was spending my time cramming for finance exams and staying up till dawn working on accounting projects, I would not be nearly as happy as I am researching and writing papers.

What would it have been valuable for you to know as you were starting your English major? Would you have done anything differently, knowing what you know now?

I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I changed my major to English. Just this week, in my senior seminar and capstone classes, I’ve been thinking about how working to improve my writing has affected so many other areas of my life. If someone had told me that writing is so much more than just a skill when I changed my major to English, I wouldn’t have believed it. Writing has made me a better thinker, a better listener, and a better observer, and my life is so much richer as a result. So I don’t feel like there is something that I would have liked to know when I started my major. I have no regrets. There were plenty of extracurricular ways to be involved on campus, and I was as involved as I wanted to be.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Erin Glass Wins Ruby Treadway Award

by Shannon Smith

Erin Glass, Senior BU English major, recently won the Ruby P. Treadway Award for her outstanding writing portfolio. Within the portfolio were pieces of poetry, literary theory, and fiction.

About her portfolio, Erin says, “The poetry section and the literary theory essays were both challenging and rewarding. The pieces of fiction seemed more like fictive narratives than fiction. They were extremely humbling--I was actually embarrassed at how nonsensical they were. I wasn't even sure if I would receive full credit for them.”

Erin composed the portfolio for Dr. Alexander’s creative writing class. Dr. Alexander gave many exercises where Erin was able to create many new works and even usea the opportunity to revise and to try different verse forms. She has been writing poetry all of her life, but she has never before attempted to write fiction or short stories. “The exercises gave me a new respect for fiction and short story writers—and a profound admiration for their method and their craft.”

Erin’s inspiration came from many different areas. Dr. Alexander was extremely encouraging to her and gave Erin a lot of confidence in her poetic voice. Her inspiration also stemmed from her family and her “immense gratitude to be first and foremost a reader and, to a lesser degree, a writer of this otherworldly thing called poetry.”

Erin was nominated for the award by Dr. Alexander and was shocked and delighted to have won. “Recently I had sent some poems to literary journals for the first time and received many rejections and a few acceptance letters. I was feeling pretty discouraged. I respect Dr. Alexander so much and hold her in the highest regard. So for me to know that she thinks my work is worthy is truly priceless. I also felt privileged to be a part of the Belmont community. It was such a lovely ceremony and such a generous award.”

After Erin graduates, she hopes to enroll in the MFA poetry program at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont. Congratulations, Erin, and good luck!

Shannon Smith is a Junior BU English Major.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Five Questions with Logan Franks

Today's graduating senior profile is with Logan Franks, managing editor of this year's outstanding Belmont Literary Journal.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)? What would it have been valuable for you to know as you were starting your English major? Would you have done anything differently, knowing what you know now?

It's hard to answer these questions. I can't think of specific instances that drastically changed my way of understanding myself as a writer - every class I have taken has helped me to realize different aspects of myself, to realize my different strengths. I don't write poetry yet that is the only thing I've ever had published, thanks to the BLJ 2009. I don't feel like a very academic-minded person but presenting in BURS (thanks to Dr. Wells' guidance, patience, and support) was one of my proudest moments in all of my education. I don't feel like a leader most of the time because all I want to do is write (surprise), but as of April 20th I will have helped lead the creation of the coolest literary journal with some of the coolest English majors on campus. I feel like I accomplished so many things in college I never could have foreseen in high school. I don't think I would do anything different. My experience at Belmont has drastically shaped who I am and I like who I have become.

What are your immediate post-graduation plans (including educational/professional ones)?

My plans are hesitant. I will write, I will find a way to write regardless of what "career" I fall into. I've considered applying for MFA programs and am definitely going to be applying for fellowships at writers colonies and workshops. I will probably get a less-than-thrilling day job post-graduation and hope to travel once I save some money. I hope to live in Spain again. I'm kind of a dreamer but only in the way that I recognize life is too short and you're only young for a very short amount of time. I realize you're not allowed to be stupid forever. I just want to take advantage of this freedom from planning, serious expectations, and too much responsibility for a little while.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

I adore David Sedaris and in my free time mostly read memoirs and personal essays. I like almost-real stories, real-ish stories. I really liked J.D. Salinger in high school - yes, I was one of those kids. Before and during freshman year I explored works other than Catcher in the Rye like Franny and Zooey - big fan. I also became kin to Sean Wilsey in Oh the Glory of It All before college. Sophomore year I thought I'd become a Physics major; then I realized how much I loved writing and reading Flannery O'Connor's The Complete Stories way too much to devote my time to labs and experiments. Junior year I half-obsessed over The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls in Third Year Writing. I enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love in Spain. I enjoyed The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz before my senior year. Over Christmas I fell for Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain. This semester I was truly touched by Chaim Potok's My Name is Asher Lev. I think I'm growing up. And when I say "growing up" I really mean "figuring out who I am."

True or False: "April is the cruellest month."

True and False. The closer to an end, to an undefined beginning, the more bittersweet everything becomes. But, honestly, does April really have to be this cruel??

Any shout outs on your way out?

James Wells - you'da best and I think I am your biggest cheerleader.

Andrea Stover - never change, you're an amazing teacher and person. LYLAS.