Category Archives: Guest Posts

Why Employer Site Visits Are Essential

By: Macy Jo Byerly, Vanessa Haro-Miracle, and Maggie Sutton

Three #bsuenglish students’ take on employer site visits

Macy: Our career center offers a few employer site visits every semester. I’ve gone on two so far—both were jobs that would not necessarily be something that I thought I could do with my English degree: Indianapolis Zoo and Greater Fort Wayne Inc., Ash Brokerage and Cyclone Social. So why did I sign up?

Who doesn’t love going to the zoo? And Fort Wayne is close to my hometown. But just because you don’t THINK a job site would work with your degree doesn’t mean it won’t! At every visit, you have a chance to ask questions. I always lead with I’m an English major and what experience I have, and they usually tell me where I could fit in–which isn’t always where you’d think it would be.

On the most recent visit to Fort Wayne, I went because I was interested in Cyclone Social, a social media marketing agency, which fits well with my skills and experiences.

Maggie: I signed up for the same site visit at the recommendation of my career coach, Eilis Wasserman. She was very excited that we were going to visit Cyclone Social, because it’s young and millennial focused, offering unlimited vacations and an open office plan structure. Continue reading

Meaningful Moments as an Intern for the Indiana Writers Center

Faint lights shined on the Indy Reads stage as the Saint Florian CASH Club high schoolers performed their spoken word writings; they worked hard all summer for this moment.

For the past two summers, I have interned with the Indiana Writer’s Center as an intern with the Saint Florian CASH Club high schoolers. I remember my first day ever working with them, it was June of 2016, when I walked in the room I could feel their cold stares falling upon me. I could only imagine they were thinking,

“Who is this girl?”

“Oh great… another teacher who’s going to make me write.”

“Why should I trust her?”

I don’t blame them though. I was a stranger coming into their summer camp with the intention of having them write and share their memories. I would’ve felt the same way if I were in their position, but I knew that there had to be something I could do to earn their trust. So, that first day when the prompts were given to them, I decided to write along with them. I wrote about an intimate moment of my own life and allowed myself to be vulnerable. I did this without the intention of sharing, but once it came time for author’s chair, their eyes once again fell on me.

“Miss Eileen, let’s hear what you wrote.”
Continue reading

Short Film Corner with Rani: Wasp

One of my favorite short films is the Oscar winning 2003 short, Wasp, by British director, Andrea Arnold.

Grounded in the style of British Social Realism, Wasp shows a young struggling mother with four young kids. With every bad decision she makes, she is trying to be a good mom.

Andrea Arnold started her directing career with short and independent films. Her second feature film, Fish Tank, starred Michael Fassbender and went straight to Criterion Collection.

Her 2016 film, American Honey, won the jury prize at Cannes.

[Both American Honey and Fish Tank are available at Bracken Library, by the way!]

Recently, she has been directing for television including episodes of I Love Dick, Transparent, and the full second season of Big Little Lies.

Check out Wasp.

Originally written by Ball State English faculty member, Prof. Rani Crowe

Mai Kuha: The Year of My Meme

Dear reader, I have something to ask you. I am taking the plunge and mentioning Finland, something I have avoided fastidiously for my 18+ years at Ball State so as not to get inaccurately and permanently categorized as being from Finland. If you could refrain from labeling me that way, I would be so thankful. My genetic material is from there, I have relatives there, and I have made an effort to know the language, but almost my entire life has taken place elsewhere. I have about the same amount of information about Finland as a casual tourist, and will live there one day only if my retirement plans go horribly wrong.

The rain on that July day in 2016 in Helsinki was unreasonably chilly. I took refuge in a trendy library and visited the restroom. After a glance around to check that no other library patrons were present to disapprove of my behavior, I set to studying the graffiti in the restroom. The spontaneous, unedited nature of graffiti –in restrooms or elsewhere– interests linguists, often offering insights on language change in progress, among other things.

An inscription written in a bold hand drew my eye: my name was in it. I’ll opt for euphemism in translating the strongly worded message: “Stick those darn kuha stories where the sun don’t shine”.

How had it come to this?

At some point in 2015, an anonymous genius had realized that a certain pun in Finnish was perfect for a meme. It begins with an ordinary, humorless sentence that fits this frame: “[positive outcome] so long as [condition]” – for example, “Everything is fine so long as you remember to enjoy life”. “So long as” in Finnish is “kunhan”. The fun begins when we replace “kunhan” with the shortened form  “kuha”, which is vernacular and therefore creates a mildly humorous contrast when inserted in profound statements. In addition, “kuha” also refers to a type of fish, the pike-perch. Continue reading

Benefits of the English Major: Straight from the Seniors

Prof. Emily Rutter shares some of her Senior Seminar students’ reflections on their learning in the English Major.

This semester, my English 444 students were asked to write autobiographical essays about their experiences as English majors. As a fitting close to the semester for some and to college for others, we wanted to share a few excerpts from those essays, which showcase the many lessons English courses impart and the varied ways in which our students will apply them in the future.

Vanessa Haro-Miracle: When I first signed up for English 308 course, I dreaded the idea of reading poems. As the semester progressed, one of the assignments was to pick a poet and read and analyze their work. I chose Erika L Sanchez because she wrote activist poems about Mexico. Her poems tend to be vivid and gruesome. Moreover, I knew there was a deeper meaning and I was able to grasp it because it was about the ugliness in her and my native country. Reading her poetry was a springboard to find other poems and poets like her.

Kelsey McDonald: Knowing that I can complete complex research papers, comprehend difficult texts, and confidently apply my skills to other aspects in my education and professional pursuits is extremely rewarding.  However, the best lesson I have learned is that the magic of the other worlds I have explored through literature has enabled me to be confident and adventurous in my own world. Reading has played such an important role in my life, and I hope to share my love of it with many students by teaching high school literature after I graduate and join the professional world. Continue reading

Remembering Dr. Ruvoli

On Friday, March 17, 2018, Dr. JoAnne Ruvoli lost her battle with leukemia, leaving behind many loved ones, and leaving the English department poorer from her loss.

I was a new professor at Ball State the same year as JoAnne. We became fast friends; both of us enjoying deep conversation, good books and films, Chicago and Chicago food, and good jokes. Her compassion during my times of need made her irreplaceable when she gently prodded me to come over so she could order what passes for pizza in Muncie. Her kindness, understanding, and good company will be greatly missed.

JoAnne was an accomplished scholar whose contributions to the field of Italian-American literature reach beyond adding to the body of scholarly writing. As a doctoral student at UIC, she diligently navigated a legal maze to bring the late Italian-American writer Tina De Rosa’s papers to the library archives—a feat unheard of for a student. This preserved the unpublished writing of a woman whose body of work explored the neighborhood that once existed where UIC campus rests today. Continue reading

What four moms talk about when they talk about “the talk”

Prof. Rani Crowe’s new film looks at what happens to a non-traditional family, comprised of four lesbian moms and a 15-year-old daughter, when it comes time to talk about sex. BSU student Tynan Drake reports on the film and Prof. Crowe’s vision of honest, helpful talk for young people on the verge of exploring their sexuality.

When 15-year-old Heather decides she is ready to lose her virginity, it is up to her four moms to decide how and when to give her ‘the talk.’ Mom Four is all on board for teaching Heather about sex, but first she must convince the other three moms that it is necessary. As the moms bicker amongst themselves, Heather moves forward with her decision only to discover that even a mature teenage girl still needs her mothers.

Crone Heights Productions’ short film, Heather Has Four Moms, was written and produced by BSU creative writing Prof. Rani Deighe Crowe, directed by her creative partner Jeanette L. Buck, and edited by Bonnie Rae Brickman. The film had its first screening at the Athens International Film and Video Festival in Athens, Ohio, on April 11. The production company’s mission is to put women in front of and behind the camera to produce the diverse stories that more commercial producers are not telling. Continue reading

A Flash Non-Fiction about Creative Writing

Creative Writing major Cecelia Westbrook describes how she found the right form.

When I declared my Creative Writing major in the fall of 2014, I considered myself a poet and nothing but a poet.

As an incoming freshman, I didn’t have much experience under my pencil. I had taken one creative writing class in high school, and enjoyed the poetry section the most. I even went out of my way to write extra poems, which made my final project grade 115/100.

Cecelia at the  launch party for Tributaries, containing her first publication, the essay “All Babies are Ugly, Except for Me (Just Ask My Uncle).” Top, Cecelia and friends with poet Kaveh Akbar.

If that is what it takes to be considered a “poet,” then I, in fact, was a poet.

Here at BSU, my English 285 class, which is the introductory creative writing course, spent a few weeks on each genre. This was my first exposure to creative non-fiction, which, it seemed to me, was basically taking experiences from your own life and writing them down for other people to read (possibly.) I didn’t know what to do with it. I don’t remember much about what I wrote for this specific course, but I do remember thinking, Can I go back to writing angsty poetry now please? Continue reading

Skills in the city, or how I discovered my career path in the Big Apple

Natali Cavanagh is a senior creative writing major. Last semester, she ventured to New York to do two publishing internships as part of the NY Arts Program.  After graduation, she will be working as a publicity and marketing intern for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. In this guest post, she describes her work at a journal and a literary agency and talks about how the skills she learned in English classes came to life in this jobs.

My junior year, I, like many of my peers, was wondering where my English degree would take me and what I would pursue after college. I knew I liked books and I enjoyed reading, analyzing, and interacting with stories, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a writer or teach English. In Cathy Day’s Novel Writing class, though, we learned a little bit about how the book publishing industry worked and the process a manuscript goes from beginning to end; the more I learned, the more I wanted to know! So last semester, I went to New York through the NY Arts Program and was offered 2 dream positions: working as a social media intern for Guernica literary magazine (which has published pieces by some of my favorite authors like Roxane Gay, Rebecca Solnit, and Zadie Smith!) and an editorial intern at Writers House literary agency (who also represent some of my favorite authors like John Green, Grace Lin, Ingrid Law, and Neil Gaiman!).

At Guernica, my primary job was to help build social media presence. On a daily level, I made Tweets and Facebook posts to promote pieces from the magazine (new and old); for long term projects, I worked toward making materials (like cultural calendars and workflow templates) that will continue to help the staff long after my time with them. Even though the internship was predominantly remote, the staff meetings were always so much fun; listening to all the fascinating and exciting new projects people were writing, helping create and plan for a new special topic issue (Deserts!), and having the opportunity to work with so many engaging and intelligent people was invigorating.

At Writers House, I worked under Senior Agent Dan Lazar and his Assistant/Junior Agent Torie Doherty-Munro. As an editorial intern, my main job was to read submitted manuscripts and provide editorial feedback: every day when I came in to work, Torie would send me a few partials (a 50-100 page section of a manuscript) and I would tell her whether or not I’d be interested in continuing to read/accepting the manuscript, what was working, and what potentially needed to be changed. Both Dan and Torie represent primarily Children’s/Young Adult books, but I read everything from short, middle-grade manuscripts to contemporary adult, realistic and historical fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy. Every day I was reading something different! My favorite projects to work on, though, were always manuscripts that I got a chance to see evolve; seeing a manuscript improve after helping give editorial feedback was so gratifying and worthwhile.

I was lucky to be at two places that really encouraged growth and hands-on participation. At Guernica, I was writing and composing social media content every day, interacting and engaging with their online community. At Writers House, I felt that my editorial feedback was valued and that the work I was doing to help bring manuscripts to life was really helping the authors and agents I was aiding. And ultimately, I used every skill that I learned through my English classes: understanding craft and story structure, analyzing character and audience, writing in various styles (for a social media audience, for an individual author, for an agent…), being able to communicate my ideas clearly and concisely. Overall, I’m so grateful for my time in New York, not only for giving me an insider look into the industry I want to be a part of, but also for the opportunity to collaborate, play, and experiment with skills I’ll use for the rest of my professional life.

 

 

Originally written by Natali Cavanagh

Short Film Corner with Rani: Gowanus 83

I really love this 2011 short film, Gowanus 83. At eleven minutes, it is a great example of using genre in short film. It uses the tropes and genre conventions of a gangster film while making them fresh through comedy and specificity of character, plot, and world.

I admire the dialogue in this film. Reminiscent of Tarantino’s writing, it plays with genre expectations and comically subverts character stereotypes. Through comedic dialogue, the film creates the tension of the plot and reveals necessary backstory.

Lastly, Gowanus 83 utilizes the specificity of its world. By setting it in this neighborhood in Brooklyn, it allows the possibility of the interactions of all of these characters and invites the kind of chance and coincidence that can only happen in a city like New York.

Enjoy Gowanus 83!

 

 

Originally written by Rani Crowe