Monthly Archives: September 2010

Alumni Profile: Nate Logan on writing, his BSU experience, and how that prepared him for his pursuit of a Ph.D. in Creative Writing

Here at the English Department, we are striving to create more of a community atmosphere where students, alumni, and faculty can all come together and share their experiences studying English (especially with this blog and our Facebook page). Towards this aim, we will be featuring alumni profiles. These profiles will either be in the form of interviews of the alumni about their experience with the study of English or as a guest post from the alumni member themselves.

Nate Logan (Right) excited.

Here is our first profile, alumni member Nate Logan: an active member in his writing community via his independent literary journal and press, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of North Texas.

Just curious, where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Why did you choose Ball State University?

I chose Ball State because it seemed to be the best fit for me. It was far enough away from home and it housed an inviting psychology department (my major).

How did your time at BSU help prepare you for the direction you took after earning your degree, and in what ways have you utilized your degree?

Ball State gave me my poetry legs. During my sophomore year, Peter Davis invited the poets Shanna Compton and Jennifer L. Knox to read at Mt Cup on their first book tour. At the reading, I had a total after school special moment—I knew that I wanted to be a poet. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted psychology to be my future or creative writing. But Shanna and Jen’s reading sealed it. I was a creative writing minor already, but knew after the reading that I wanted poetry to be in my future in a big way, not just as a casual thing. My poetry workshops with Peter Davis and Mark Neely really got me excited for writing poems. Dr. Mix was also integral in changing my focus to creative writing—she helped to deepen my understanding and love for literature and poetry.

I didn’t change my major, so I graduated with a psychology degree that I’ve not used for any job purposes. Only for poems.

What was your experience like in your MFA Program and do you have any tips for those considering that same route?

I loved my MFA program. I got mine at Minnesota State University Moorhead, which is right across the Red River from Fargo, North Dakota. Spending three years on my own writing was very important to me—I know the time allowed me to become a better poet, and writer in general. My professors, Thom Tammaro, Kevin Carollo, and Lin Enger, were very generous with their time for me and helped me to become that better writer I wanted to be. My MFA program also gave me the opportunity to teach a 100-level English class, as well as an upper level course on literary editing and publishing. I also made really good friends, who helped me become a better editor of my work.

My only tip would be to apply to as many programs as you can afford. There are so many MFA programs out there, there is going to be at least one, and probably more, that appreciate your potential and talents. Don’t be persuaded that the “top 25” MFA programs are necessarily the best ones, there are gems all over the place.

What made you decide to go into a Ph.D. Creative Writing program and what was the process like finding a program and applying?

I wanted to get my Ph.D. for a few reasons. One, I wanted more time to write and get teaching experience. Two, I wanted to get a more thorough literature background. And third, I wanted to distinguish myself from the x number of other creative writers who want to teach college/university, which is where I want to be when I graduate.

Finding a program was relatively easy—relative in the fact that I think there are only 39 creative writing Ph.D. programs in the United States. Of course, there was some narrowing down of a list before I ended up in Texas. The application process was somewhat hectic because I was working on my thesis at the time, and all the programs that I applied to wanted the G.R.E., so I was alternating between studying and writing for a lot of the fall semester. It was a bit stressful, but totally worth it.

What and who influences you most as a writer?

James Tate is on the top of this list, but also Mary Ruefle, Michael Earl Craig, Dean Young, Shanna Compton, Jennifer L. Knox. I think a lot of poets probably take away a little something from each new writer he/she reads. I also really love the short stories of Lorrie Moore and Joy Williams.

Is there any advice you’d like to give or anything else you would like to say to BSU English students?

I would say to become human sponges—absorb what your professors are telling you. They are a great resource of knowledge and excellent teachers. Enjoy them while you have them.

*****

We would like to thank Nate for kicking off our alumni profiles and to congratulate him on all he is doing.

We have more profiles in the works, as well as other guest posts and event posts, so keep watching, BSU!

Last night’s reading a fantastic success with a startling development for two BSU undergraduate students

Students Tyler Gobble (Left) and Cody Davis (Right) pose in Bracken after poetry reading

Last night, Ball State had the honor of being the first stop on Bloof Books‘ 2010 tour, and oh man, what a stop it was! Undergraduate student Cody Davis did a great job opening for the three poets. Jennifer L. Knox, Shanna Compton, and our own Peter Davis all exhibited unique voices and styles that reminded us that poetry can be fun. In their cases, wildly so.

In a stunning turn of events, Compton interviewed Cody Davis and Tyler Gobble, president of Writers Community and organizing aide for the reading, for The Best American Poetry‘s blog. This was a great opportunity for the two students and they earned it.

This reading marked the first of many events to come this year that will make BSU a truly exciting place to be. For a previous interview with Tyler Gobble on this blog and a look at the events to come, check out our post here.

Reading featuring Professor Peter Davis, Jennifer L. Knox, and Shanna Compton tonight

Scheduled to begin at 7:30 tonight, there will be a reading in Bracken Library, room 104. This reading features poets Jennifer L. Knox, Shanna Compton, and Ball State’s own Peter Davis, with special guest reader, undergraduate creative writing major Cody Davis. Cody was chosen to open the reading by winning a contest where the poets themselves picked their favorite anonymous work from all Ball State undergraduate students who submitted.

If you take a gander at these poets’ material, you’re sure to realize this is going to be a pretty fun event. So come eat some cookies, drink some punch, and help these writers kick off their 2010 Bloof Books Tour the way we know BSU can! For more information on the poets and to RSVP, check out the Facebook event here.

This event is being put on by Writers Community, which means there will be no meeting tonight. For those of you who have never been to Writers Community, feel free to attend next week on Tuesday at 8:00 PM. Writers is a fun, social group where all are welcome.

Ball State’s English Department wants to hear from YOU!

As was stated in our “Welcome Back!” post, Ball State’s English Department is looking to spruce itself up a little bit, put on the dapper, make sure our slick wigs have a shine that makes people think the sun has finally come to earth for a visit, or at least that we got new bulbs (no, this doesn’t mean we’re getting neon/Vegas). We have our own ideas in the works, such as a broadsides campaign, alumni interviews about life after the Bachelor’s Degree, and promotion of our new majors and minors like Professional Writing. While we were kicking these things around, we thought we would see what you think, BSU!

Let us know by commenting on this post or on our Facebook. We would love to hear your ideas, and after all, you’re only helping yourselves. We’re here for you, BSU!

The Broken Plate, Ball State’s international literary magazine is now open for submissions

Many of you who are new Ball State probably don’t know about The Broken Plate yet, and those of you who are upperclassmen may also be wandering in the dark. The Broken Plate is Ball State’s literary magazine that finally went international just two years ago. The magazine is run every year by a select number of undergraduate students, and not only is it made by BSU undergraduates, it’s made for them. In the past, The Broken Plate solely published works of undergraduate students, but the lead editor’s decision to go international and open the submission gates to anyone meeting the deadline, while still publishing undergraduate students, has brought with it a unique opportunity for those students accepted to have their poetry, fiction, or nonfiction work showcased alongside accomplished writers from all over the world.
Submissions opened Wednesday, Sept. 1 and will remain open until Oct. 31 of this year. For a little more on the matter, here‘s a post on the Writers Community blog by Tyler Gobble, who we interviewed earlier in the week here. For more information on how to submit to The Broken Plate, here are the submission guidelines.