Tag Archives: Matt Mullins

Professor Mike Donnelly Publishes Book (And More December/January Good News)

Prof. Mike Donnelly‘s book, Freedom of Speech and the Function of Rhetoric in the United States, was released on December Donnelly book15.

Prof. Jill Christman recently had two essays published: “The Alligator and the Baby” in TriQuarterly and “This Story” in Phoebe: A Journal of Literature & Art Since 1971Prof. Christman is also chairing the conference committee for AWP this year and will be delivering a welcome address on the opening night of the conference.

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Tyler Fields Interviews Mark Neely and Matt Mullins About Their Brand New Books

Earlier this year, English professors Mark Neely and Matt Mullins each released brand new books, Beasts of the Hill and Three Ways of the Saw, respectively. In honor of this wonderful achievement, we sat down with them to discuss various aspects of their new books as well as publishing, academia, and their writing inspirations. See the interview below.

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Cinema Entertainment Immersion

Each Spring, Ball State hosts the Cinema Entertainment Immersion showcase, which features short films written, starring, produced and directed by Ball State students.  Below, English professor Dr. Matt Mullins provides a brief explanation of this exciting event as well as his involvement with it.

This year, CEI will present  short films on Monday., April 27th at 7 PM in Pruis Hall. Be sure to check out this exciting event.

 

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Creative Writing Students Immerse Themselves in Cinema

The Cinema Entertainment Immersion, or CEI, is one of Ball State University’s fantastic immersive learning ventures. It combines students from the departments of English, Theater, and Telecommunications to produce professional-quality short films. As with all of BSU’s immersive learning projects, the main goal of the CEI is for the students to gain a unique and practical experience. The CEI allows students to perform the central roles of film production, with students from the English Department’s Advanced Screenwriting course writing the scripts, students from the Theater Department’s Acting for the Camera course auditioning for and acting in the major roles, and students from the Telecommunications Department directing and producing the films. Throughout the project, the students involved learn how each role in film production works together as part of a cohesive unit to create a quality finished product.

Here’s what screenwriting Professor Matt Mullins had to say about the English facet of CEI:

“I select the best short scripts from the Fall Semester of English 410 (Advanced Screenwriting), and sometimes a few from English 310, if there are strong screenwriters in my section of the intro course.  Overall, I usually end up choosing between 15 and 20 student scripts for consideration for the CEI. Then Dwandra Lampkin (Theater), Rod Smith (TCOM), and myself sit down and pick the top five or six.  Those six scripts are then cast with students from Dwandra’s course and put into production by Rod’s students over the Spring semester in the context of TCOM 487 (the CEI course).  The finished films are then showcased every April at the CEI Showcase in Pruis Hall.

I think that the quality of the films is steadily improving.  I’m specifically focusing Fall sections of 410 around the idea of what creates a compelling story and what is suitable for the CEI in terms of story type/genre (i.e., no epics or sci-fi or ‘high-concept’ scripts); setting (things we can realistically film with the facilities here at Ball State—which do include some use of green screen/CGI); and age of the characters (the principals need to be roughly college-aged so they can be cast from the theater class).”

Because they require a lot from the students who participate, these immersive learning programs can seem daunting at first.  However, because of the extra effort, students get more out of these educational experiences both personally and professionally.  Such programs provide students with unique learning opportunities, enabling them to realize abilities that will prove to be valuable to their careers both during and after college.

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!

Good News #2

This is the second post of our “Good News” series—a series to highlight the accomplishments of the English Department’s graduate students and faculty. Here’s what they’ve been up to:

Adam R. Beach’s essay “Global Slavery, Old World Bondage, and Aphra Behn’s Abdelazer,” was accepted for publication in Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, and will appear in their Winter 2012 issue.

Peter Bethanis’ short story “Poet and Clown” was accepted for publication in Art Times.

Cathy Day has received a Beatrice, Benjamin and Richard Bader Fellowship in the Visual Arts of the Theatre from Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Each fellow is expected to be in residence at Houghton for at least four weeks during the period from July 2011, through June 2012. Her project for the fellowship is entitled, “Looking for Linda: The Scrapbooks of Mrs. Cole Porter.”

Tiffany Ellis delivered a presentation of her paper, entitled “Cohort-Oriented Project-Based Learning in ESL Teaching,” at the meeting of the Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (INTESOL). The meeting took place in Indianapolis, in November of 2010.

Ashley Ellison’s essay “Connecting Memory and Research Through Eco-Composition,” is forthcoming in Indiana English. She will give a presentation with the same title in June at The Association for the Study of Literature & Environment’s conference, in Bloomington, Indiana. In March, Ellison presented a workshop with Elmar Hashimov at the East Central Writing Centers Association conference. The conference was titled “Communicating Across Cultures: The Role of Culture in the Tutoring Session,” and took place in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Robert Habich’s book, Building Their Own Waldos: Emerson’s First Biographers and the Politics of Life-Writing in the Gilded Age, has been published by University of Iowa Press. His coauthored 2010 book, Romanticism and Transcendentalism, 1820-1865, which is part of the seven-volume Research Guide to American Literature, has been named an Outstanding Reference Book for 2011 by Library Journal.

Joyce Huff has joined the editorial board for Fat Studies, a new journal from the Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Erin Banks Kirkham’s essay, “Catherine, Crispin, and the Midwife’s Apprentice: Names and Identity in Children’s Literature,” was published in International Congress on Medieval Studies, in May 2010.

Sean Lovelace’s short story collection, Fog Gorgeous Stag, is scheduled for release on July 12th of this year by Publishing Genius.

Michael Meyerhofer’s third full-length book of poems, Damnatio Memoriae, won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest, and will be published in April/May of this year. His fifth chapbook, Pure Elysium, won the Palettes and Quills 2nd Biennial Chapbook contest, and is scheduled to be published this month. Meyerhofer also had two prose poem/flash pieces, “Ode to Dead Batteries” and “The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic, 1962,” place as finalists for Mid-American Review’s Fineline Competition, and both were published as Editor’s Choices. He had another poem, “The Stuttering Headsman,” published by Hayden’s Ferry Review in their 2010-2011 issue. He has poems forthcoming in North American Review, African American Review, Southern Indiana Review, New York Quarterly, Hobble Creek Review, and others, as well.

Matt Mullins’ short story collection, Three Ways of the Saw, is scheduled for release in spring 2012 by Atticus Books.

Miranda Nesler’s article, “Closeted Authority in The Tragedy of Mariam,” is forthcoming in Studies in English Literature, 2012.

Chaehee Park co-authored an essay with Megumi Hamada, entitled “Word-Meaning Inference: A Longitudinal Investigation of Inference, Accuracy, and Strategy Use,” which was accepted for publication by Asian EFL Journal. Park and Hamada both presented “Using Think-Aloud as a Metacognitive Strategy in L2 Lexical Inference Instruction,” at the meeting of the INTESOL in Indianapolis, in November 2010. Park also presented “L2 Spelling Investigation: A Comparison of English Learners of Korean and Native English Speaking Children,” at the meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics in Chicago, in March of 2011.

Martha Payne presented a lecture entitled, “The Reality of Myth,” as part of the Nick Smyrnis AHEPA Lecture Series at the University of Indianapolis, in March 2011.

Monica Robison’s article, “The Power of Words: Othello as Storyteller,” was published in Storytelling, Self, Society, in January 2011.

Andrew Scott’s collection of short stories, Naked Summer, will be published in June 2011 by Press 53.

Congrats to all our grad students and professors!

Why All Undergraduates Who Are Serious About Creative Writing Should Attend the Associated Writing Programs Annual Conference (AWP), by Prof. Matt Mullins

Photo courtesy of AWP Writer.org

Networking.  Networking.  Networking.  I begin somewhat offhandedly, but I mean this.  You want to go to AWP (the annual conference attended by most of the creative writing programs across America) because you are someone who writes, cares about writing and needs to meet people of like mind.  At AWP, you will meet your peers (i.e., other undergraduates from other programs who also care about their writing).  Many of these peers will go on to MFA programs and will likely end up editing some of the many literary magazines to which you submit your writing.  Regardless of whether or not you intend to pursue the MFA, having a beer or getting some face time with these peers will allow them to put your mug to a name when your piece comes in, and in the land of one to five percent acceptance rates, this works in your favor.

At AWP, you will also meet those who are a little further down the line (i.e. MFA students).  These are the people already editing many of those literary magazines you want to get into, so meeting them leads to the same end described above, only in the now rather than down the road.  Also, these are the people who also have recently completed or are about to complete manuscripts they’ll send to contests, indie presses and literary publishers.  They have good advice for you, and many of them are friends with the publishers you’ll want to familiarize yourself with.

At AWP, you’ll also meet people who have books out.  These people know publishers, and if these people get to know you and your work, they may recommend you to those publishers.  Thus, a conversation and an exchange of email addresses can lead to someone who has a publisher’s attention taking a look at your work and recommending you.

Once you’re out of your MFA (if you go for one), you may well find yourself at AWP for a job interview.  Though its dates shift a bit annually, the conference often marks the big round of interviews for universities and colleges.  You want to know the landscape and be comfortable with the scene before you end up going there for an interview.

However, AWP isn’t just a schmooze fest or a job finding machine.  At its heart, this monster is about the writing.  As I mentioned, the conference marks a time when nearly all the creative writing programs in America descend upon a city to network, talk shop and celebrate.  In a world where the vast majority of people could care less about something all of us love passionately, it’s a very positive thing to see thousands of writers come together to celebrate their craft.

The things I mention above are those things that orbit AWP.  The conference itself is also filled with wonderful panels on all manner of topics from publishing tips and creative writing pedagogy to the analysis of various literary trends and stylistic approaches toward specific genres of writing.  There are many, many readings with many wonderful writers that range from the indie world all the way up to the big names all of you know.  On top of this, there is the Book Fair to end all Book Fairs—literally hundreds of tables filled with gorgeous books and literary journals.  It’s the kid in the candy store scene.  All told, AWP is a few days spent in an alternate reality where creative writing has somehow become the center of the world.  And that’s something special.

As for my personal experience at AWP, the last few years have been eventful.  At the 2009 AWP, I interviewed for my position here at Ball State and had lunch with the fiction editor of the literary journal Pleiades, who asked me to send him a story, which he then published.  The following year, I had the pleasure of being part of the hiring committee involved in the interviews that led to our hiring Cathy Day.  I was also able to wander the book fair and meet the editors of the journals who’d taken my work over the previous year.  This year I was able to meet the editor behind Atticus Books and have him tell me in person that he wants to publish my collection of short stories.  We spent a good amount of time talking, and I think he came away understanding that I’m serious about my writing, an attitude he values as he’s about to make an investment in my work.  All of these positive experiences have, in some way, helped me get my writing out there, and I wouldn’t have had any of them if I hadn’t gone to AWP.

Next year AWP is in Chicago.  CHICAGO.  It’s a three hour drive from here.  It’s the city of big shoulders.  One of the most kick ass towns in America.   Thousands of writers will descend upon it for a long weekend.  And if you’re a writer who cares about writing and the publishing world, you’ll try to go.  I hope to see you there.

Undergraduate Literary Exchange with the University of Alabama

February 21 and 22, the University of Alabama faculty/writer Brian Oliu and four Alabama undergraduate writers will visit Ball State University to exchange ideas about creative writing, visit our Creative Writing in the Community program, and also visit the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry.

On Tuesday night, February 22, BSU will host a reading where the visiting Alabama writers will showcase their original creative works. The reading is at 7:30 p.m. in Bracken Library, room 104. Please come out and support our visiting authors from the South!

From the end of March to the beginning of April, four creative writing students from BSU will be visiting the University of Alabama and The Slash Pine Poetry Festival, accompanied by professors Sean Lovelace and Matt Mullins. Here’s a short excerpt from Slash Pine Press about their festival:

“In April, The Slash Pine Poetry Festival brings over forty national and regional poets together for a two-day extravaganza of poetry. The festival highlights the public and democratic nature of creative work, refusing to privilege one form or aesthetic over another, and presenting diverse voices in non-traditional, communally-accessible spaces. The festival itself spreads widely across a range of venues, emphasizing that art is intimately connected to place”.

Feel free to check out this firsthand account of the first SPPF in 2009.

The BSU undergraduate students participating in the exchange have started a fundraiser on Kickstarter.com to cover the costs of their trip. Kickstarter features donation increments that award certain prizes determined by the dollar amount. For instance, in the case of these students, poems/stories, chapbooks, and broadsides created by the students themselves number among the prizes awarded. You can view the students’ Kickstarter here.

Faculty reading: Cathy Day and Matt Mullins

On Thursday, February 10th, there will be a faculty reading in AJ 225 featuring Professors Cathy Day and Matt Mullins. The reading will start at 7:30, and is a great opportunity to see what your professors/peers are writing. Cathy Day is the author of Comeback Season, a memoir following the Indianapolis Colts’ Super Bowl season, and Circus in Winter, a short story collection recently adapted into a musical by the Virginia Ball Center immersive learning experience. Matt Mullins is a screenwriter, poet, and fiction writer. His work has appeared in such literary magazines as Hobart, kill author, Pleiades, Harpur Palate, and Hunger Mountain. Mullins is also an Emerging Media Fellow currently working on several experimental films and a series of interactive literature interfaces.

This event is free and open to the public, so come out and enjoy some refreshments while listening to these professors’ great work!