Tag Archives: Jeremy Bauer

Good News, January 2015

In the latest installment of the “Good News” series, the Ball State English department highlights the accomplishments of our faculty and students up through the month of January.


All the Good News that’s fit to print!

Mary Lou Vercellotti received a grant to work with Wollo University in Ethiopia. Full details are available in the following press release. She will advise in their English language program, and Ruby Cain from Teacher’s College will advise on higher education administration. Dr. Vercellotti will visit Ethiopia during spring break.

EnglertKelsey Englert, a Ball State English alum, had her story, “Goodbye to the Karls,” published in Bartleby Snopes. This online magazine asks its readers to vote on their favorite story, which is then published in an online edition, and Kelsey’s story was the one selected. She is currently a graduate student in the MFA program at West Virginia University.

Jill Christman

Emily Scalzo published her haikus, “Dutch Alcoholics” and “A Polar Vortex,” in Cattails and Halcyon this winter. Continue reading

Slash Pine Poetry Festival: Day #2

Matt Mullins reading, photo courtesy of Layne Ransom

I was most excited for the second day of the Slash Pine Poetry Festival. My nerves were operating at a low hum, as I didn’t have to read, and had logged a day’s worth of experience in Alabama, so I could operate the whole day with just my wonder gaze on. The belly full of fried catfish, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread didn’t hurt, either. Cornbread everywhere you go—how hospitable, how comfy.

The first reading I attended was at the Green Bar. The area of the bar was somewhat narrow, but stretched far into a dark space that ended at a raised stage. Green Bar’s scene was reminiscent of the local Be Here Now readings—cramped, dusky—and while BHN readings tend to have a fair attendance, the Green Bar’s reading was brimming with people. By the time us Ball State visitors arrived, it was standing room only, save for a few seats sparsely dotted throughout, and only visible seconds before someone else smoothed into them.

Michael Martone and Abe Smith, two University of Alabama writers and teachers in attendance, had quickly become iconic in my mind. I remembered Martone’s Blue Guide to Indiana only somewhat from Professor Sean Lovelace’s fiction class, and I’d only discovered Smith’s work the night before. Still, they each had a quality about them that made me glad to inhabit their vicinities. Almost as if the genuine and original quality their writing held was also something they exuded—something you could inhale and catch.

I hoped there would be some happenstance, some alignment of supernatural elements that would result in Martone and Smith reading at the festival, but it must not have been in the cards. I didn’t leave Alabama feeling literarily deprived, though. There were too many good writers, and if anyone left with that feeling, they didn’t pay attention well enough. Some highlights from the Green Bar readers were Brandi Wells and Oliver de la Paz. Wells read from her Worst Times series. Something about her, and her writing, seemed genuinely tough. And in a room full of writers—a group generally thought to bruise easy and over think making a fist instead of blocking a right hook—Wells’ writing aesthetic was refreshing. Oliver de la Paz was one of those readers that maintains a gentle cadence and looks to be talking in a somewhat hushed tone, but you realize you can hear him clear as day because he’s mind-controlling the entire room. You realize he’s doing something with a combination of mood, sound, and vocabulary that hooks into everyone in the audience. Just after he read, I found myself bobbing my head up and down, saying, “Mhmm, good stuff, good stuff.”

The next reading was at the Bama Theatre. It was a weird environment: a production of The Wizard of Oz letting out scattered munchkins, Wicked Witch of the West guards, and flying monkeys, while throughout the reading gussied-up kids passed by the wall-sized windows on their way to the prom. Ellie Isenhart, who graduated from Ball State’s M.A. Creative Writing program in 2010 and is now part of the University of Alabama’s M.F.A. Creative Writing program, read from a letters series with a bite. Christopher DeWeese put me back in my too-baggy clothes and heavily gelled hair with his collection of poems inspired by 90’s alternative music (nobody talks about the song “Lightning Crashes” anymore, and I’ve been waiting for this a long time—thanks, DeWeese). When Matt Mullins started on the mic, I felt pretty proud to be affiliated. Just as Lovelace had one of the best crowd responses at his reading, Mullins got to the audience. In his reading style, you can tell he has a good grasp of rhythm and sound; that he revels in that locus where the oral and written aspects of literature hold equal importance.

The Slash Pine Poetry Festival was a lit dog race, a lit endurance trial. But I imagine most of the readers have sat through long, dry, odyssean readings themselves, though. They seemed to make effort to keep things lively. It’s a great thing to be surrounded by people that share your passions and are excited by the same things you are. You’re great hosts/hostesses, U of A people. Thank you kindly for an awesome experience.

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer

Slash Pine Poetry Festival: Day #1

Photo courtesy of Sean Lovelace. Left to right: Jeremy Bauer, Elysia Smith, Layne Ransom, Tyler Gobble

The Slash Pine Poetry Festival is organized and executed by a mix of University of Alabama faculty, interns, and students. On March 31st of this year, four creative writing undergraduate students, including myself, descended on Tuscaloosa, Alabama to fulfill our part of a literary exchange with the University of Alabama. We were chaperoned by creative writing faculty Sean Lovelace and Matt Mullins. We were in a van for eight to ten hours—time was hazy, so goes the road. We may have passed through the Midwestern Bermuda Triangle as well. When we arrived, we were greeted by sunshine and warm, complimentary cookies and milk. This boded well for our Southern literary adventure.

The University of Alabama campus was well groomed. It looked as if it had just gotten a haircut to ready for a big date—and we were happy to court. Pink, white, and yellow flowers added to a genial atmosphere, along with a mid-60’s sun. This made things comfortable and cradled any anxious nerves anticipating the undergraduate reading.

The Undergraduate Exchange Reading featured students from the U of A, Flagler College, a private four-year liberal arts college in St. Augustine, Florida, and us BSU undergraduates. We read in front of the Gorgas House, the first structure built on the U of A campus with an abundance history behind it (relating to the Civil War and otherwise). It was great seeing our exchange friends from U of A read again, and fun seeing what a new group of peers, those from Flagler, were writing.

The reading was scheduled to last three hours, as were all the festival’s readings. Even to those who love literary readings, this is one petrifying block of time. Mercifully, none of the readings took the full amount, and our Undergraduate Exchange Reading even had an intermission that included four or five different kinds of pie and apple cider. I don’t know if this is a common Southern custom, but a pie and cider break definitely keeps a reading lively.

The next reading was at the Children’s Hands-On Museum, where Lovelace would read. There were stuffed bears frozen in funny faces, an artificial Mission Control that took my retinal scan (I believe a blue light just clicked on and off, but it seemed legit), funhouse mirrors, and an old drugstore. Lovelace considered reading from an American wilderness scene with some critter pelt on his head. He tested it, and he really had something there, but we eventually found a stairwell leading to the actual reading space, so we conformed.

As I haven’t been to many readings outside of the BSU area, besides Vouched Presents, I was really interested to witness different reading styles and to see what writers brought to the performance aspect of literary readings. The first reader, T.J. Beitelman, made apparent his technical poetry style with a soft voice and careful pauses. Occasionally, he would put a tape recorder up to the microphone and play songs and outtakes from Bob Dylan sessions. Overall, his performance seemed very practiced and fluent.

Lovelace read various works from his chapbook How Some People Like Their Eggs, and a new series he’s been working on with the central theme of Velveeta. By far, he had the best audience reaction of any of the readers. His work also seemed the most contemporary, greatly regarding the now rather than discarding it, which many writers seem to do. BSU affiliations aside, he was my favorite reader, and if you have the opportunity to take a writing class with him, do it. Lovelace’s work was funny and vibrant, and every word seemed as deliberate and careful as Beitelman’s.

Some ending highlights of day one: Shook hands with Michael Martone after Lovelace’s reading, who was uniquely styled in his appearance and reminded me of Albert Grossman. Watched a video of an Abe Smith reading on Lovelace’s iPhone—even through the internet and small screen, it grabbed and shook the viewer with Smith’s attention to sound and performance. Smith wasn’t featured as a reader at the festival, but he could be seen slinking around at the different readings. I sincerely hope I get the chance to see him read live someday.

In Alabama, there are signs everywhere saying not to litter and “Keep Us Beautiful.” The hotel floor mat said, “we love that you’re here,” and the doors and walls simply said, “thank you.” Sorry you get so stuffed with tornadoes, Alabama (tenfold what Indiana experiences). You seem like a nice place.

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer

P.S. Still have one more day of the Slash Pine Poetry Festival to report on, so keep watching, BSU!

English Majors and the Job Market: You’re Okay

English majors get a bad rep when it comes to the job market. Frankly, we’re sick of it. A major goal of this blog is to show the versatility of the English degree. As our “Life After the English Major” section proves, we’re not just blowing smoke. One of the most important skills for any business is communication, and do you know what you’re studying in all of your literature and creative writing classes? Exactly.

According to the NY Times.com article, “Young Workers: U Nd 2 Improve Ur Writing Skills,” by Phyllis Korkki, “In a survey of 100 human resources executives…Nearly half the executives said that entry-level workers lacked writing skills, and 27 percent said that they were deficient in critical thinking.” The years of using dictionaries and thesauruses for unknown words can pay off, as well as studied attention to authors’ word choice and conveyance of mood. Much of today’s communication is done over email or similar text formats where mood can be lost, or most likely, misinterpreted. A person who keeps these lessons in mind can end accidentally passive aggressive messages and make for clearer communication, and few are better equipped for this accomplishment than English majors.

In her September 2009 post on Payscale.com, “Jobs for English Majors: They Do Exist,” Bridget Quigg shows that the numbers prove English majors can be competitive earners. Citing this graph of popular careers for English majors, Quigg presents some of the top positions for English majors:

Technical Writer                                        –      $68,900

Paralegal                                                       –     $53,100

Copywriter                                                   –     $49,900

Online Marketing Content Writer      –      $50,900

These are the median salaries after ten years. As Quigg notes, “They don’t top aerospace engineering majors, who come out number one overall at $108,000 a year,” but still, these aren’t exactly wages of destitution. In her article “Working Your Degree,” on CNN Money.com, Shelly K. Schwartz notes that regarding English majors, “The versatility of the degree, in fact, is what makes the post-graduation job hunt so hard.” This means English majors can fit to nearly any career field, and because the possibilities are so broad, it can be hard to zero in on a particular field, or realize the extent of these possibilities.

There may also be the need to sell yourself a little more to job interviewers. While they may know they need people with good communication skills, they may not know they can find this quality in an English major. This will require an explanation of your skills, which could benefit greatly from using buzzwords, such as your aptitudes concerning “critical thinking” or “dynamic (changeable) communication.” Selling yourself is something everyone has to do in job interviews anyway, so this shouldn’t put you off. Knowing the skills you bring to the table ahead of time can help put you a peg above other applicants, especially when said skills are unique and well-practiced.

In her article, Schwartz goes on to say, “…increasingly, insiders say, one of the fastest growing career choices for English majors is broadly defined as ‘business.’ The verbal and written communication skills that English majors possess remain in top demand at nearly every company in America.” Upon graduation, it’s commonplace for English majors to assume they’ve spent their college careers studying what they enjoy instead of cultivating specialized skills, and so they are left not knowing what directions they can take in terms of a career. The good news is that while you spent your studies doing what you love, you were also cultivating one of the most important skills to the job market: communication. More good news: proficiency with this skill means you can be an asset to any company, because even if an organization is filled with the world’s top tradesmen, people with skills not found anywhere else, the organization needs a good communication system to get the most out of these people—to work efficiently. In Schwartz’s article, Professor Ernest Suarez remarks, “Businesses tell us they like to hire English majors because they feel they can think. They’ve got the writing and analytical skills they need. The rest they can be trained to learn.” Don’t be afraid to mention this in job interviews, applications, or personal statements.

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer

Guest Post: Tyler Gobble on the Ball State University-University of Alabama Creative Writing Student Exchange

Cover of the students' collaborative chapbook

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.

The Washington Center

Photo courtesy of TWC.edu

I recently attended an information session on The Washington Center, organized by Dr. Barbara Stedman, Director of National and International Scholarships and Honors Fellow. I am grateful to Dr. Stedman for the chance to learn about TWC, and most importantly, to pass the information on to others who may benefit from TWC’s programs, which have the potential to be nothing short of life changing.

As TWC puts it, “Leaders are built from the inside out. They’re made, not born.” TWC is a nonprofit academic internship program based out of Washington, D.C. that offers internship programs, as well as academic courses and seminars. TWC mainly functions to connect college students with civic, governmental, and business leaders. They work with hundreds of colleges and universities, a considerable number of public and private host organizations (or internship sites), and over 40,000 alumni.

Here is the list of TWC’s main internship programs:

  • Advocacy, Service, and Arts
  • Business and Management
  • Cordova/Fernos Congressional Internship
  • Ford Motor Company Global Scholars
  • Global Trade and Regional
  • International Affairs
  • Law and Criminal Justice
  • Media and Communication
  • Political Leadership
  • Science, Technology and Society

Because they are located in Washington, D.C., TWC has contacts in nearly every U.S. government organization in the area, as well as contacts beyond the governmental realm. One program I believe could yield experiences particularly useful to English majors is their Media and Communication Program, which includes the fields of communication, print and broadcast journalism, public relations, advertising, and social media.

Social media, in particular, is a field businesses and organizations are especially looking for people to handle. It has become public knowledge that social media can be a great source for advertising, and is gaining more interest every day. Many business owners do not know much about managing social media, but have been paying attention to such trends. Since younger people tend to have more of a beat on this arena, this is who these business owners are going to in order to get a leg up when it comes to their reach, and activity, on the internet.

Here is a short sample list of organizations TWC connects interns with:

  • White House Office of Media Affairs
  • National Public Radio
  • CNN
  • Peace Corps
  • Bread for the World Institute
  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Center for Public Integrity
  • CBS News
  • Women for Women International
  • Fair Trade Federation

Internships are a great way to not only prepare for careers in the real world, but also help to learn how to effectively apply for jobs. If you pursue and internship with TWC, you will be required to create a portfolio, including the following elements:

  • Résumé and cover letter
  • Individual development plan
  • Internship defense letter
  • Analyses of selected lectures
  • Civic engagement project reflection
  • Informational interview and other writing or work assignments specific to your program

As I believe we have shown with our “Life After the English Major” posts, ALL career tracks are in need of good writers, or effective communicators, and so each internship is a viable opportunity for an English major. The great reward of internships is the firsthand work experience it provides, something 45% of employers look for when hiring. I think the worth of the internships TWC offers is made obvious by the list of organizations it works with. For more information on TWC, feel free to visit their website here, or email them at info@twc.edu. A brochure will be available in RB 295 as well. We will always strive to connect students with opportunities such as those TWC provides, so keep watching, BSU!

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer

Student chapbook release reading tonight!

The Jackalope Wars by undergraduate student Jeremy Bauer

Tonight at Village Green Records (located in the Village at 519 North Martin Avenue), there will be a student-run poetry reading featuring undergraduate students Lindsey Laval, Tyler Gobble, and Jeremy Bauer, with introductions by Layne Ransom. The event is to celebrate the release of Jeremy Bauer’s chapbook of poems, The Jackalope Wars—made in conjunction with Stoked Press, and also its premier release. Stoked Press is an independent press geared towards producing chapbooks and other small-run releases. It is the fledgling project of Tyler Gobble, president of Writers Community and active member of the Muncie literary community in general. The Jackalope Wars will be available for purchase at the event for $4 each.

For information on student, faculty, and department events, keep watching, BSU!

Two readings tonight!

Tonight, Professor Mark Neely (also Director of Creative Writing) will be reading from his chapbook Four of a Kind in Bracken Library, room 104, at 7:30 p.m. Neely’s chapbook was named Winner of the 2009 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition.  The reading will be opened by guest student reader Jeremy Bauer, who was chosen from among a number of anonymous entrants. In the same fashion as the Bloof Books reading, undergraduate students submitted their work anonymously for a chance to open the reading, with the main-event writer/writers choosing the winner.

Adding another scoop to this sundae of a night, there is a student-organized reading tonight as well, starting at 9:30 p.m. at Be Here Now in the Village. If you are under 21 there is a $1 cover charge at the door. So, BSU, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to see what your professors are writing as well as your peers. It’s a good night for English lovers, so reward yourself and embrace it.

Guest Post: Tyler Gobble on chapbooks, a DIY medium allowing a variety of options concerning publishing and creativity

You might be asking yourself two things: how in the world did they let you back on here, Tyler Gobble? And what in the world is a chapbook? I can’t really answer the first one, but the second one I’m gonna try.

Avoiding the long history of the chapbook, the way it developed, its historical purposes, etc., I’m going to focus on how the chapbook is used by indie writers, small presses, and even students, focusing on Ball State University.

First, a chapbook is a small print book with a low number of pages, often stapled-bound. Nowadays, the chapbook serves a wide range of purposes, from being a teaser for a forthcoming book to acting as a DIY thing for writers to use (often similar to how local bands use demos to make money and spread their name). With the popularization of ebooks, electronic chapbooks have also become popular in the form of pdfs and webpages. Essentially, chapbooks are a viable medium, I think, for writers as they are relatively inexpensive to produce, less difficult than full length books to create, and easily distributable.

Ball State University has its own realm of professors and students with chapbooks. Creative Writing faculty Sean Lovelace and Mark Neely have recently won chapbook contests for print chapbooks. Former students Shaun Gannon and Daniel Bailey each have their own echapbooks from independent publishers. As students, Gannon and Bailey also self-released their own print chapbooks. Current students Jeremy Bauer and Ryan Rader have also went the DIY route by seeing to their own chapbooks being published. Whether through a contest, a publisher, or self-published, I think it is pretty sweet to see these Ball State affiliated writers have their work published via the chapbook medium.

Now, I want to take a minute to talk to one of these cool dudes, Ryan Rader, about his chapbook.

Interview With Ryan

1.     Can you tell readers about your chapbook (how it came out, when it was released, the process, etc.)?

I wrote a group of poems for a class with Mark Neely, and once I had seen Dan Bailey’s amazing chapbook look at me deeply with great meaning I knew I wanted to do something just like it: simple, small, memorable. A co-worker of mine, Johanna Ofner, was a design major and offered to put together a print version of these poems. I edited them to add a pseudo-narrative and we printed off about seventy copies. I believe this was in 2007, but my memory is fuzzy.

2.     What kind of response did you receive about your chapbook and the poems in it?

Exceptionally positive, especially at such a young age (all of the poems were written when I was eighteen-twenty years old). A couple of the poems had been published in online journals before it was in print; this gave me the confidence to publish other poems myself. It is still the best personal project I have ever done, and I am proud of the results.

3.     What is your opinion on chapbooks as a medium for literary endeavors?

You know how all the cool kids buy their music on vinyl because they love the feel of it? How holding something antiquated and beautiful in their hands and actively moving through the print and the music all at once brings them closer to a pure form of expression? Chapbooks, and really any small press publication, are to publishing what vinyl is to the modern record industry. Definitely a niche market, but a devout one that appreciates a DIY approach combined with professional quality.

4.     What are some chapbooks that you have enjoyed (either print or online)?

Daniel Bailey’s chapbook was my original inspiration; I love every poem in it (“Underwater God” is a favorite). Shaun Gannon’s Casual Glory; or Macaulay Culkin does nothing is, simply, a hoot. Never has vomiting seemed so cool and poetic.

5.     Do you see a difference in productivity/quality/readership between online vs. print chapbooks? Press published vs. self-published?

Since the readership for poetry is criminally small, it seems like fighting over who’s getting more readers is like getting in a bidding war over acres in Antarctica. Quality? Always subjective, especially in the hyper-specialized world of poetry. I want personal exploration and juxtaposed, absurd imagery—others want their poetry tight as a snare drum and loaded with natural beauty. But we are, ultimately, on the same side: trying to get more readers. I think it takes conventional and unconventional means to reach that goal. It’s the same world to me; while I prefer to stick with print, because humanity is obsessed with the tangible, I know that both mediums working in tandem is crucial to the proliferation of new, good, exciting poems.

End.

Two members of last year’s In Print Festival, Matt Bell and Mary Miller, have had chapbooks released by presses. Bell’s first chapbook, How The Broken Lead The Blind, was published by Willow Wept Press in April of 2009, and his second, The Collectors, was published in May of 2009 by Caketrain after being a runner-up in their 2008 Chapbook Contest. Since both of these chapbooks have sold out, they are available as ebooks now. Matt also wrote Wolf Parts, a chapbook released by Keyhole Press last spring in anticipation of his first collection, How They Were Found, in which Wolf Parts and The Collectors appear. Mary Miller’s Less Shiny was released from Magic Helicopter Press in 2009 as a teaser for her first collection, Big World. These examples illustrate how up-and-coming authors can use contests and chapbooks to further push themselves towards full length collections and literary success.

Through websites, like Chapbook Review, small press competitions, and the continuing popularization of DIY art, chapbooks are a respectable medium in the literary world. I pick up a chapbook, and I am like, “HEY I CAN MAKE THAT.” Then, I open it up and there are these words like beautiful hellos and I shake my head at how wonderful all these words are. For me, chapbooks are accessible, awesome, fun, interesting, and useful because they are nice simple bundles of literary booyeah.