Hey, remember when those sweet students and that nice-guy professor came from the University of Alabama a few weeks ago and wowed us with their words? Well, that was for the first ever Ball State University-University of Alabama Creative Writing Student Exchange. Now, we’ve gotta hold up our end of the deal.
I was lucky enough to have been selected by Creative Writing faculty, Sean Lovelace and Matt Mullins, to accompany them on the trip, along with Layne Ransom, Elysia Smith, and your English Department blogger Jeremy Bauer. At the end of this month, the very end to be exact (March 31st), we will be heading to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The plan is to read at The Slash Pine Poetry Festival with those cool University of Alabama students and some other visiting students. Also, we will be able to see some awesome readers from both the University of Alabama and other visitors. (Side note: I’m most looking forward to seeing University of Alabama MFA student Brandi Wells and poet Oliver de la Paz.) In addition to the readings, during our three-day stay, we will be meeting with faculty and students of the university to learn about their programs, such as the planning of this festival and their awesome literary magazine the Black Warrior Review.
You might be surprised, but I’m so stoked about this trip. More importantly, I’m honored, realizing how unique and great of an opportunity this trip is for me as an undergraduate student. Additionally, the trip has created an opportunity to design and share chapbooks, broadsides, and videos of the readings. Recently, we started a Kickstarter project for this trip, to help cover the expense of traveling. As rewards for donating, we are offering the limited-edition chapbooks and broadsides, along with other cool things, to donors. Again, we have been honored by the feedback from this project already, and thrilled to see so many supporters with a little under a month still left.
I think there is something uniquely special about meeting writers (both students and otherwise) from other universities and communities. In my limited experience as a writer, I’ve grown immensely from knowing other writers and writing enthusiasts on the Internet. To take those interactions or make them in person will truly be a life-affecting opportunity. For me, this trip is more than a chance to visit another school, to read at a poetry festival, to produce some literary works, to spend close time with writing friends, and to share my work with so many people; rather, it’s the amazing chance to do all those things together in three days.
Can I speak for all four of us? Okay. Reading at the festival is the culmination of a creative project lasting several years: developing our craft of writing. The travel we will undertake will allow us to exhibit and share our work with a whole new audience through our readings, an audience we may otherwise never reach. Also, we are thrilled for such an opportunity, through fundraising and the trip, to share our growth as writers via the chapbook, broadsides, and videos.