Hanif Abdurraqib: Visiting Poet at Ball State University

Poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib will be visiting Ball State University on Thursday, September 27th, 2018 from 7 – 9 p.m. in Teacher’s College (TC) 121.  This event, sponsored by the Ball State English Department, African-American Studies, the Multicultural Center, and the Office of Institutional Diversity, is free and open to the public.

A native of Columbus, OH, Hanif Abdurraqib is the author of The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, his first collection of poems; it was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was also nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

His collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was named book of 2017 by Esquire, Buzzfeed, Oprah Magazine, NPR, and others.  It addresses many topics such as racial profiling, the n-word, and contemporary music and sports.

Not only does Abdurraqib write poetry and essays, he’s written for the 2016 live shows VH1’s Unsilent Night and MTV Video Music Awards. 

Abdurraqib works as a poetry editor at Muzzle Magazine, an interviewer at Union Station Magazine, and for the poetry collective Echo Hotel. Continue reading

Welcome Prof. Sarah Domet

Sarah Domet

Sarah Domet’s debut novel, The Guineveres, was released from Flatiron Books in October 2016. She’s also the author of 90 Days to Your Novel (Writers Digest Books, 2010). She holds a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati and will be teaching courses in fiction writing in our creative writing program.

Learn more about her on her website.

What are you currently reading, if anything?

I’m fortunate to have a job that requires me to read. It gives me the chance to conduct independent studies for my creative projects, crash courses on interesting subjects “for the sake of research.” (I put “for the sake of research” in quotes only because I once spent a full day reading about Jarts for one throwaway line in a story. It’s easy to get off track.)

My current novel project, set partly in 1910, features a protagonist who claims to commune with the dead. To better understand this era, I’m reading Through a Glass, Darkly: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Quest to Solve the Greatest Mystery of All. This book offers a fascinating glimpse into the spiritualist movement: mediums, seances, lies, frauds, sex, and scandals.

What is a text that you think everyone should read?

Continue reading

Sarah Flores: Making a Difference with an English Degree

Sarah Flores. From her Twitter: @heyitsflores

Sarah Flores graduated from Ball State University in 2016 with a BA in English studies. After graduation, she returned to her hometown of Columbus, Indiana and worked for the school corporation. In April 2017, she accepted a position with Turning Point Domestic Violence Services on the Prevention Team. 


How did your English major lead to your current position? What series of steps did you make after college to get there, and what skills did you learn with us that helped you in that transition?

I wouldn’t say that I took a series of steps to be in my current position. After I graduated, I knew that I had one goal: get a job. I was privileged in that I had a place to stay, reliable transportation, and no other responsibilities that got in the way of my search. I knew that I wanted to work with youth, so I looked for open positions in the school system. I was quickly hired as a teaching assistant at a high school and, because of my degree, I was placed in an English classroom. Long story short, one of my current coworkers came into the classroom as a guest speaker on teen dating violence, and I knew that I wanted to do something similar. As luck would have it, they were hiring.

Full transparency, I was amazed that I was hired for my position with an English degree. In this field, it’s more common to see people with social work or psychology backgrounds. But taking a step back, it makes sense. Prevention is not intervention (i.e. working one on one with someone who is in crisis). Prevention is looking at a complex issue (which, in my case, is intimate partner violence) and finding ways to deconstruct the unhealthy behaviors that contribute to the problem. This echoes the skills I learned in the English department: analyze the situation, break down its layers, and communicate it to an audience.

(If you want to know more about violence prevention, or if you’re just a cool nerd who likes to read things, the CDC has a lot of great info: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/overview/index.html)

What’s a typical day like for you?

I’m happy to say that I don’t have a typical day. During the school year, I’m most likely in a classroom. Our prevention team does programming in all of the middle and high schools in our county. Sometimes I’m in an 8th grade class doing an activity on consent. Other times I’m with high schoolers having a discussion about break ups. Maybe I’m at an in-patient facility helping teens brainstorm coping skills for when they get angry. Regardless of my location, I’m given the freedom to be as creative as I want to be. If my main goal is to prevent and eliminate intimate partner violence, then I need to scaffold what a healthy relationship looks like in relevant ways.

(For anyone interested, www.loveisrespect.org is one of my favorite websites for information on healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.)

On a typical day I’m doing what we call “chasing the squirrel,” which is having a Jimmy Neutron-esque brain blast and then running with the idea. There’s a lot of crafting (which I’m not good at), document designing (shout out to Eva Grouling Snider), and supporting our very talented and beautiful grant writers.

Many moons ago I slapped together a presentation for one of Rory Lee’s courses all about working at a nonprofit with no intention of ever doing it and behold—here I am. Spooky.

Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives?

My advice: APPLY FOR WHATEVER JOB YOU WANT. Seriously. Just do it. Here’s the little secret that I learned pretty early on: your major doesn’t define what you can and can not do. Employers are looking for people with relevant skills and, baby, no one can put you in a corner. Your English major is a skeleton key to any career field.

Can you write? Heck yes—and in different genres!

Can you research? You bet! Your Google search history is probably alarming, but you know your facts!

Are you organized? Not only have you learned how to effectively communicate in a logical flow, but you have also juggled multiple deadlines. You got this.

Are you a critical thinker? You kick so much butt when it comes to analyzing information, distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant, and communicating possible solutions that they call you Truth Lee (this is a Bruce Lee pun and I am sorry).

This is just a short list that doesn’t even cover half of your magical abilities you’ve EARNED.

Honestly, the best advice I can give is just to take chances. So what if you don’t have the “experience required”—you’d be very surprised on the calls you get back. Oh, and try to work at a place that allows dogs because it rules.

You can find Sarah on Twitter at @heyitsflores.

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

Ellie Fawcett: Creating Social Media Content

Ellie Fawcett. From her website: www.elliefawcett.com

Ellie Fawcett graduated from Ball State with a BA in English Literature in 2017. In college, she served as a member of the marketing team for the 2015 Digital Literature Review and as a strategic communications intern for Jacket Copy Creative. Fawcett now works for Englin’s Fine Footwear as a content creator for their blog and as a manager of their social media.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

I love getting to spend everyday creating. Figuring out what problems customers have, researching how to solve those problems, and creating new information resources is really, really fun!

If things develop as you would like, what does the future hold for your career?

If all goes according to plan, I would eventually like to transition to a position as a content creator for an agency where I’ll have the opportunity to work on more content topics.

What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?

My position requires research skills, the ability to write in specific tones for specific audiences and to determine who the audiences are, the creativity to find new and interesting content topics to cover everyday, and the ability to work with a team. A good foundation of what sometimes get called soft skills is pretty essential to my job. Continue reading

August Good News

We were really busy over the summer, writing and researching and submitting and job hunting. So we’ve got a lot of good news to share this month!

Faculty News

Prof. Michael Begnal  

  • His article “‘Bullets for Hands’: Witter Bynner, Arthur Davison Ficke, and the Spectra Poems of World War I” was published in Twentieth-Century Literature, vol. 64, no. 2 (June 2018).
  • His article “Modernist Mythologies: The Turquoise Trail Anthology and the Poets of Santa Fe” was published in Western American Literature, vol. 53, no. 2 (Summer 2018).
  • He had five poems (homages to Archie Shepp, Bill Evans, Peggy Pond Church, Leroy Carr, and Richard Realf) published in Penumbra  and another in Smithereens Literary Magazine (Ireland).
  • Additionally, he gave a presentation of poetry at the Sport Literature Association Conference on June 20, 2018, at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, titled “Baseball Poems/Baseball Images,” and was interviewed on Bangor, Maine’s AM620 WZON radio on August 8, 2018, and read some poems on the air

Prof. Brent M. Blackwell attended three conferences this year (The Benjamin v. Cohen Peace Conference at Ball State and the Mid-East Honors Association at Central Michigan), the third of which will be the National Collegiate Honors Council Annual Meeting in Boston, MA in November, where he will chair a roundtable discussion on incorporating STEM issues in honors humanities courses.  

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

Allison Tourville: Telling Stories for Vulcan

Allison Tourville. Photo taken from Tourville’s profile on LinkedIn.

Allison Tourville graduated from Ball State with a BS in History and Geography in 2007, and later received her MA in History in 2011.  While Tourville was working on her MA, she worked at the Boys and Girls Club of Noblesville as the Assistant Manager of Athletic Operations. After graduating, she accepted a position as the Resource Development Coordinator of the Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue, Washington.  Tourville started her current career in Seattle, Washington at Vulcan Inc. as a writer and editor.  She worked her way up to Senior Digital Media Strategist where she helps develop different kinds of social strategies and digital content campaigns in order to share the compelling story of Vulcan.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The diversity of work I get to be involved in. We do a wide range of programs, projects and initiatives at Vulcan, [a company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen] I’ll swing from creating storytelling campaigns around elephant conservation to launching a music festival to live-streaming a sunken ship discovery.

If things develop as you would like, what does the future hold for your career?

Continue reading

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

A letter to the Ball State Board of Trustees from Jeffrey Brackett

August 9, 2018

Dear Ball State Trustees:

I am writing to you today to express my profound sadness and concern regarding your recent notification to the BSU community of our continued relationship with Mr. John Schnatter.

I concur with my colleagues, alums, and community members who have passionately and persuasively argued that Mr. Schnatter’s flippant use of abhorrent language is not in line with BSU values, particularly BSU’s commitment to diversity.

I am an associate professor of Religious Studies, and I have taught at BSU since 2005. My training is in the religions of India, where I lived for more than three consecutive years during my graduate studies.

The core of what I teach is thoroughly grounded in the idea of fairly and accurately “representing” people who are regularly marginalized in our society. That is, I try my best to provide expert knowledge about people who are frequent targets of bigotry. Put differently, insofar as possible, I “speak for” religious groups that often are misrepresented or simply remain powerless and voiceless among the dominant religious groups here at home. My passion for pedagogy has not gone unnoticed at BSU; I am the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Teaching Award, as well as a Virginia Ball Center Immersive Learning Fellow (Spring 2015). Continue reading