This week, the department continues our new faculty profile series by featuring Brian Morrison, who joined our department this fall. Brian earned his M.F.A. at The University of Alabama in 2010. He has published 19 poems in various literary journals, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and has also won the Academy of American Poets Prize. Brian also has served as assistant poetry editor at Black Warrior Review. Continue reading below to see Brian’s interview, which was conducted by English Department intern Nakkia Patrick.
How do you think your work as an editor has helped you become a better educator?
As an editor, I strove to find those writers whose craft was most honed, and as an educator I try to teach students to hone in on their individual strengths. I enjoy both of these practices thoroughly and hope to continue improving on them at BSU.
You have published a great deal. What piece or publication was the most important or special to you? Why?
I feel incredibly lucky to have published anything at all. The publication that means the most to me is the very first one: a poem at 42opus. I had sent this particular poem to a dozen places before 42opus contacted me about publication, and the thrill of it was like nothing else. Since childhood, I had dreamed of becoming a published author, and finally, I was.
How do you think your publication experience comes through in the classroom?
There are slow times for any writer, and these can be difficult. Confidence is important in the classroom, especially the creative writing classroom. When I’m not writing or publishing, encouraging others to do so can be simultaneously difficult and upsetting. I often feel as if I’m a fraud of sorts when the publications aren’t coming in. While this feeling is indirect, it’s certainly tangible.
In a more practical sense, I sometimes look to the current themes journals are soliciting for and use these to inform the assignments I create (this isn’t limited to the creative writing classes). For instance, fairy tales are often sought, as are pieces on violence and hunger.
What kinds of writing projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working to finish a manuscript on contemporary monsters (from Godzilla to the common mouse) as well as a more serious project on the loss of America’s family farm (of course, monsters play a part here, as well). I’ve also been writing a series of poems about celebrities as weird things in strange places (Russell Brand as a zombie attending an AA meeting).
What other kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
This is a great question, and it’s one I’m never entirely sure how to answer. I can offer a bit about myself, I suppose. I spend a good amount of time watching old monster movies and thinking about the ways people categorize and separate those which don’t fit particular modes of living. I’ve always been interested in the weird and the ways in which the things labeled as oddities can be used to develop a clearer understanding of the otherwise accepted.