Student Success: Joshua Johnston Represents WKU English for World Book Night Celebration

Joshua Johnston is a recent graduate from WKU's English department.

Joshua is a recent WKU English graduate with a creative writing degree. He will be attending Indiana University starting this fall to pursue his MFA. –Photo Provided by Joshua Johnston

Every year on April 23–Shakespeare’s birthday–folks nationwide donate books to people in their communities for the World Book Night (WBN) celebration, and this year in Bowling Green, one of the WKU English department’s own undergraduate students took center stage for the event.

Joshua Johnston, a brand new WKU English alumni joined Kristie Lowry, Outreach Coordinator for WKU Libraries, at the Warren Regional Juvenile Detention Center (WRJDC) for the World Book Night Celebration. Ms. Lowry thought “just taking the books to the center and dropping them off with a few kind words didn’t seem like enough. With a loose idea for a poetry workshop in mind, I reached out to the English Department at [WKU], and [Dr. Molly McCaffrey] recommended [Joshua Johnston].”

Ms. Lowry gave each student a copy of 100 Best-Loved Poems, then Joshua led the poetry workshop, where many of the students surprised and humbled them with their ability to relate to the poems. Many of them even had a knack for creating their own poetry! Ms. Lowry had this to say about Joshua after WBN had come to a close:

“That young man—barely older than the kids he was teaching—spent [two hours] sharing poetry and the written word in a way that left me aching to be able to write well enough to do his work justice.

He did an amazing job! Actually, ‘amazing’ doesn’t begin to describe it. He was phenomenal. I hope to do more work with the kids at the center, and I’d love to partner with students or faculty in the English Department for that whenever possible.”

Joshua had this to say about his experience at WRJDC:

“I initially worried that there wouldn’t be adequate time to establish an atmosphere in which students felt comfortable enough to engage in the type of dialogue that is so crucial to successful writing workshops, but I quickly discovered that my fears were unfounded. By the end of each class, most of the students were not only intently crafting poems, but enthusiastically sharing their works-in-progress with the class and drawing further inspiration from the positive feedback that ensued. Their talent and courage was a true joy to witness, as well as a vivid reminder of why I have so much faith in the field of creative writing.”

Joshua obviously left a lasting impression on the students at the WRJDC, Ms. Lowry, and our community–not by simply handing these students books–he provided a great experience they will remember forever because he opened their minds to poetry and creative writing. We’re glad to share Joshua’s successes as a WKU English undergrad, and look forward to hearing more about his future achievements in the Indiana University MFA program this fall!

Check out the World Book Night website to learn more about how you can make a difference in people’s lives by inspiring them to love reading, just as Joshua did for the students at WRJDC.

Alumni Alert: Fill Out a Questionnaire for a Chance at $25 Gift Card (Hint: Odds Way Better than Lottery!)

May 19, 2014

Dear WKU English department alumni,

My name is Rob Hale, and I am the new Head of English at WKU.  I arrived in Bowling Green last July, and I finally have a chance to catch my breath and introduce myself to you. You may have received a hard copy of this letter in the US Mail, but I wanted to follow up with an email just in case we have your home address wrong. I also thought it might be easier for you to complete our alumni survey if we provided a direct link in this post.

Dr. Robert Hale, English Department Head

Dr. Robert Hale, English Department Head

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Registration Blitz Starts this Week: May 15th – 21st

Get registered for fall ASAP by attending this WKU event specifically for students who still need their registration holds lifted and advice about registering.

See the attached flyer for details:

Come to DSU A330 to register for fall 2014 classes!

Congratulations to Our Spring 2014 Graduates and Winners from the English Awards Ceremony

The English department has a lot to be proud of right now. First, we have a long list of wonderful Spring 2014 graduates who we would like to congratulate. We will miss seeing your faces around Cherry Hall, but know you each have bright futures ahead of you. Please keep in touch, and remember you are always welcome to visit anytime. Our door is always open to our alumni!

We also have many distinguished students who were celebrated last night at the WKU Department of English Awards Ceremony and Senior Reading. If you weren’t able to make it last night, you missed a wonderful (and jam packed!) event. Cherry Hall 125 was literally overflowing with support for our award and scholarship recipients and senior readers. Check out the program below so you’ll know who to congratulate when you see them!

List of Spring 2014 English Graduates

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List of winners from the 2014 Awards Ceremony and Senior Reading

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Science Fiction and Suspense at the Kentucky Writers Conference

A collaborative post between Andria Nealis and Tiffany Hughes.

The Southern Kentucky Writers Conference and Bookfest is one of the largest annual literary events. It hosts thousands of potential writers each April. This past Bookfest was held Friday and Saturday, April 25 & 26. During this event, there were several writing workshops on Friday, April 25th, where authors that had books available for the Bookfest on Saturday, the 26th, provided their audiences with the wisdom they’ve gained over the years.

Some of the English Majors’ Weblog interns had the opportunity to attend several events during this event. Both Andria Nealis and I attended “Science Fiction: Fun on the High Road” with Jack McDevitt and “How to Create Suspense in Fiction” with David Bell. As you might have read previously, Ashley Dyer attended the session: “Heroines, Humor & Homicide” with Julie Anne Lindsey. All of us enjoyed each of the sessions we were able to attend, and hopefully, we will be able to go again to the SOKY Writer’s Conference and Bookfest. But until then, we have some items that we would like to discuss about the sessions we took part in.

McDevittThe first session, “Science Fiction: Fun on the High Road” with Jack McDevitt, was very interesting if you’re a beginner writing student. Having been an English major for most of my college career, everything that was discussed during McDevitt’s session I’d already been taught by my professors since the beginning of my very first English class. The information passed from the seasoned writer to the waiting hands of the audience in this session was like water, dripping from our minds as we walked out the door. Mature writers shook the droplets from their hair, but those just starting out (perhaps a middle-schooler with a dream to be the next Stephanie Meyer) drank in DcDevitt’s advice. As a matter of fact, Mr. McDevitt didn’t speak at all about any science-fiction ideas, concepts, or images within the session. Instead, he gave us the basics of writing that every professional writer should know. The basics are always great if you need the first step in the right direction, but if you’re already an established writer, this session was useless.

In the next workshop, “How to Create Suspense in Fiction,” we were introduced to the idea that “All novels are suspense novels.” Although Dr. Bell also focused his workshop on introductory writing, he addressed his genre of expertise—suspense. Personally, if I tried writing suspense, it would probably come off as a cheesy version of Nancy Drew. That being said, I thought he gave sound advice to a room packed with people of all ages and from many different regions of the United States. Though all novels may be suspense novels, Bell described two types of stories: someone goes on a journey and someone comes to town. Within those stories, there should be an unequal balance of good and evil forces. Your characters should be put into a situation they can’t get out of; they can’t be allowed to walk away. You can listen to what Dr. Bell had to say on openers here.

Is the Kentucky Writers Conference a fantastic event for readers and writers alike? Yes, of course. Is it for everyone? No. Andria and I both agreed that the workshops weren’t for us. Call us arrogant, call us ignorant; however, we can’t help but admit that we’ve learned these writing tips in our coursework already. Take Dr. Bell’s suggestion for writing outlines, for instance. He says you, the writer, must decide for yourself whether you need one or not.

The same principle can be applied to the Kentucky Writers Conference. You must decide for yourself if you need or want to attend these workshops. While some are wonderful, some can turn out below your expectations. I suspect part of the problem for us was that we did not choose workshops that were largely unfamiliar to us. Had I gone to a horror workshop rather than science fiction, I most likely would have learned many new writing tips

Choose your workshops wisely, friends. We’ll see you around the conference next year.

The English Deparment Award Ceremony and Senior Reading is Coming Up Soon!

slider_senior_readingBe sure to mark your calendars now so you can attend the English Department Award Ceremony and Senior Reading!

This event will take place on Thursday, May 8th at 7:00 p.m.

Bring friends and family with you to attend the ceremony/reading; it’s free and open to the public. Come see your friends and fellow students receive awards for their achievements, listen to the senior reading, and stay for some refreshments. Everyone is welcome, so please join us!

 

English 100 & 200 Conference: Monsters, This Friday!

Illustration by John Kenn

Illustration by John Kenn

Join the WKU English department for the 2014 English 100 & 200 Conference: Monsters!

This Friday, May 2nd in Cherry Hall 125 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., the English department will present the English 100 & 200 Conference, and the theme is Monsters–it’s sure to be an interesting event!

The conference will feature readings from English students in 100 and 200 level courses, followed by an opportunity for the audience to participate in a Q & A session with the panelists. Refreshments will be served after the Q & A.

This event is free and open to the public. Come out and support your friends and fellow students!

WKU Student Wins at the Nashville Film Festival

Charles Dillon Ward shows off his recent Nashville Film Festival Award for his script THE ANTS GO MARCHING.

Charles Dillon Ward shows off his Nashville Film Festival Award for his script THE ANTS GO MARCHING.

The English Department congratulates Charles Dillon Ward on his recent Nashville Film Festival Award in the “Thriller/Horror Short Film” category for his script The Ants Go Marching, which Ward says “is about sacrificing your soul to save your children.” The NaFF is a 10-day public celebration of film where Ward joined industry insiders and other filmmakers.

Ward’s script was one of 1500 entries from all around the country.Ward is a student of the Honors College and designed his own major, “Storytelling Traditions in Cinema, Literature, Art, and New Media,” by working with several departments, especially the School of Journalism & Broadcasting and the English Department. English’s Dr. David Bell says, “Dillon is a hard-working and determined student…. He’s already had a number of successes in the film world, and I NaFF-logosuspect he has many more ahead of him.” English and Film professor Dr. Ted Hovet comments, “[Dillon’s] screenplay…reflects his creative approach to storytelling, and it is a great honor for his work to have been selected out of so many submissions. We are excited that WKU is getting such strong recognition at a prestigious event like the [NaFF].”

Ward tells the department, “Nashville is one of the top 25 film festivals in the country, so when I found out I was a [finalist], I just kept saying to myself, ‘I got lucky this time, but I won’t win.’” In regard to receiving the award, he says, “I’m always thinking when I write, ‘no one will want to read this.’ I guess some people do.”

Heroines, Humor & Homicide: Julie Anne Lindsey

kyHi everyone! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Kentucky Writer’s Conference at the Knicely Conference Center. Of course, the first place I stopped was to look at all the books available, but then I headed on over to a conference called Heroines, Humor & Homicide presented by Julie Anne Lindsay. Lindsey is a writer who focuses on the genre called “Cozy Mysteries” which is about  a female, amateur sleuth. The first thing Lindsey talked about was the basics that are included in every cozy mystery and they are as follows:

1. Female, amateur slueth.

2. Very unique hook.

3. No graphic language or explicit sex scenes.

4. Humor is usually involved. The tone is often light.

5. Romance can be involved, but can not be the main story line.

6. Small towns are the best setting.

7. Local law enforcement are not involved as much.

8. Five suspects mentioned before real one is found.
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Tomorrow–Grad School Workshop

If you think graduate school might be in your future, don’t forget about the “So You Think You Want to Go to Grad School” workshop! Join several of our department’s professors for a roundtable discussion about all your masters degree needs. The workshop is from 4:00-5:00 p.m.Grad School pic