Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Opportunities for Undergrad Poets on Twitter

Hi all!

I hope everyone is enjoying their new programs! I'm post-MFA now, currently serving as a Visiting Assistant Prof. at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. Details on that at my personal blog.

I'm tweeting opportunities for undergraduate poets at @UnderPoList on Twitter. Follow for links to publications for undergrads, as well as seminars, fellowships, conferences and retreats.

Email: underpolist at if you'd like an opportunity listed.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Hi All! I know we don't generally use this space to solicit submissions, but one of the many things that are keeping me busy and preventing me from updating with solid writerly updates is my work on George Mason's student-run literary magazines, So to Speak (where I am assistant nonfiction editor) and Phoebe. Both of them are now accepting submissions for their annual contests, and I figured you all might be interested in submitting!

Phoebe's Contests are now open for submissions in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. David Means (fiction), Mathea Harvey (poetry), and Mary Roach (nonfiction) are judging. See details here.

So to Speak is now accepting submissions for it's spring Poetry and Nonfiction Contests. Claudia Rankine (poetry) and Joanna Omang (nonfiction) are judges. See details here.

I hope everyone is enjoying their year. If your school years are going anything like mine, you're busy busy busy! I hope to be able to update with all that's going on sometime after October. For now, suffice to say, I'm one busy little writer.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Update (with some things of interest for those of you who write poetry)

Hello everyone! Katie Darby (now Katie Mullins) here. I started out with this blog back right after being admitted to SIU-Carbondale in the Fiction program. I can't remember how much of the last two years I've shared on this blog, but suffice it to say, things got interesting and I am now firmly off the beaten path of the MFA.

I am, however, currently adjuncting at the University of Evansville in southern Indiana, and even more excitingly, I'm currently the Guest Editor for a special music-poetry crossover edition of the formal poetry magazine Measure. (Some of you guys may remember I had a music blog, Katie Darby Recommends, on the side-- this edition of Measure will combine my passion and love for the artists I work with with the passion and love I have for poetry. We'll be looking for formal poems that are about music or musicians, that explore the connection between music and poetry, and even some lyrics. We're also hoping to get a lot of songwriters on board to share their part of the verse-world. I couldn't be more excited.

So I guess this is a two-pronged post: to say that I'm still here, following in the footsteps I first took in 2009, even though it's been sort of a scattered journey-- and to give you guys a heads-up about the new issue I'll be editing. As always, you can email me at if you want more details, and until then, check out the Measure website. And pass this call for submissions along to music loving friends and musicians who write!

Friday, September 9, 2011

MFA Rankings

I know, I know... I have been MIA. My post-MFA life isn't so glamorous, as I work part-time at Georgia College teaching English composition and am spending my spare time submitting poetry like mad. For more information on me (or my poetry publications), please check out .

Now that the self-promotion is over, I wanted to come over here to post this link.

Creative Writing Profs Dispute Their Ranking–No, the Entire Notion of Ranking!

I know that I'm not the only one who has been interested in rankings throughout my whole MFA application process and during the time I spent in an MFA. I thought this might be a good place for us to discuss/debate a little bit!

I hope you are all doing well--whether you're still working on your MFA or you've moved onto the next stage of your life.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The End of Boot Camp and Some Good Advice

About 6 weeks ago I wrote about starting FSU’s First-Year Composition Summer Boot camp (you can read about it here). I finally finished boot camp and am coming up for air. We have a 3 weeks between boot camp and the first day of classes, so I’m hoping to catch up on my own writing, finish furnishing my apartment, and make it out the beach (I’m in Florida after all).

Boot camp ended up being a really good experience for me. A lot of the theory that we read hasn’t totally sunk in yet, but I know that once I’m in the classroom and have my own experiences that I can use to converse with the pedagogy, it’ll all start to click. On a more practical level it was really great to get experience teaching a few lessons and classes in a summer semester comp class, meet and get to know the other graduate students, and to get time to work on my e-portfolio (you can see the early version of my portfolio here).

Perhaps the most useful part of boot camp, though, was the advice passed on to us from the more experienced TAs. I can’t vouch for it all yet, since I’ve only spent a few lessons in front of a classroom, but I wanted to share what I think will end up being the most useful advice we were given:

  • · Be honest, but not too honest: It’s ok to say you made a mistake or didn’t know something—it’ll make your students more likely to do the same. But you don’t need to tell them it’s your first time teaching, how young you are, or what you’re doing over the weekend.
  • · Take your teaching seriously, but remember to put your own studies first: It’s easy for teaching to take up all your time. Don’t let it. You need to set limits and remember you can’t do everything.
  • · Don’t micro-manage: You can’t fix all the writing problems you see—focus on the big picture not the individual commas. You don’t have time to do it all.
  • · Not everyone loves writing as much you do: You can’t convert everyone.
  • · Stay true to who you are: Nothing will lose you respect in the classroom as quickly as being a fraud. Be you. It can be an animated version of you or a stricter version of you. But it should ultimately be you.
  • · Your students aren’t your friends: They need a teacher far more than they need another friend.
  • · Know when to refer your students to others: University writing centers and counseling centers are there for the students to use. If something comes up that is out of your expertise tell them where they can go for help.
  • · Write down everything in your syllabus/course policy sheet: If it’s there on paper in black and white, students can’t get away with claiming they didn’t understand or didn’t know.
  • · Be confident in your grades: You do know what an A paper looks like (and a B, C, D, etc). But there will always be some students that argue. Have a rubric so you can explain it to them. And remember they won’t lose a scholarship or flunk out of school because of just your class, but you’re probably the only grade they’re arguing. So be confident.
  • · Always keep a couple of exercise, quick lessons, or activities in your back pocket: You never know when a discussion or activity might fall flat or finish up a lot quicker than you anticipated. It’s good to have some back-ups to fill up class time or pull the energy level back up.
  • · Think of your students as intelligent young adults: They’re not kids anymore and they’re not your children. Treat them like adults, and keep an appropriate distance.
  • · Don’t forget to take care of yourself: Grad school is hard. You’ll be busy. But don’t forget to go to the doctor, eat your meals, get sleep, and make time to do the things you enjoy.

Hope this helps some of you. I’d love to hear what kind of advice the rest of you have gotten.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the little writer that could.

Hey, all. I posted back in March about my visit to Columbia and whether I would choose to go there, since I was waiting on one more (non-MFA) decision. I decided to go to Columbia....and then a week or two later, had a complete breakdown over financial anxiety and told them I wasn't going to go. I already have graduate degrees and I've been paying on them for 2+ years, and got overwhelmed at the thought of the staggering cost of tuition+books+living in NYC. I've paid my own graduate education up to this point, through grants/loans/workstudy and working part-time, and will be paying for my MFA myself - this isn't a case of mommy and daddy footing the bill, so I wasn't taking cost issues lightly. If anything, my family was super concerned about the debt I would incur. Everything I read online pointed me in a direction far, far away from NY.

We've all heard and read the horror stories about Columbia and the other NYC MFA programs, about being "cash cows" and rude admins and no funding, and so on - it could go on for days and multiple Facebook threads, as we're all aware. Maybe some people have even experienced this themselves. My experience, however, has been far from that. Ever since the beginning, with sending in my confirmation deposit, the School of the Arts and the larger institution have been nothing but helpful and accomodating through email and phone conversations. Being a naturally anxious person, I'm sure I drove them crazy, asking a ton of questions "just to make sure," and they always responded promptly, politely and with a note that it was no trouble.

Very long story short, I decided to go because of a funding offer that opened up that eased my financial worries considerably. Am I still taking out some loans, especially to live? Yes - but drastically less than originally thought. Is this the norm? Maybe not. Maybe this experience is the exception and not the rule, but I never would have known if I didn't take that plunge and try to go for it. It is really easy to get caught up in the funding maze and talk of different programs and debt, and make "practical" decisions in lieu of going balls-to-the-wall and taking a flying leap towards your dream. Of course, practical is necessary sometimes - I'm not advocating going 100k in debt for the sake of not being practical - but if a program is perfect for you, and doesn't necessarily offer full funding, you never know what may happen until you try. Apply. Talk with administrators. Meet with students. Get to know the financial aid, housing and student services people. If you get in, you don't have to go. Be honest with the school about your financial concerns, look at other aid sources and ask the financial aid people about other sources of money. As Tim Gunn would say, make it work.

Because what it comes down to, really, is finding the program that is the best fit for you. But if you really want a program that seems out of reach for financial reasons, it might be worth going for it and seeing what happens.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Muzzle Magazine's 1-Year Anniversary Issue - Deadline July 15th

I generally try not to spam, but I am really excited that Muzzle (my love child/ magazine) is wrapping up a submissions period for our 1-year anniversary issue. I know there are a lot of up-and-coming writers who read this, and we'd love to see your work. 

Call for Submissions:

We are currently taking submissions for our 1-Year Anniversary Issue, scheduled to come out in late August 2011. We hope to honor the past year of extraordinary work that's appeared in Muzzle by putting out the most badass and gorgeous issue imaginable. We are enjoining you to submit your work so that we can reach this lofty goal. Submissions for our 1-Year Anniversary issue will close on July 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM (we're flexible on time zone).

We've had quite an exciting first year of publication. Muzzle has the distinct honor of being the only online literary magazine named as one of the ten best new magazines of 2010 by Steve Black at Library Journal in “LJ Best New Magazines of 2010: Ten new periodicals rise to the top.” Additionally, in a starred review published in January 2011, Steve Black called our little magazine "a fine literary journal of creative writing by people of diverse backgrounds that deserves to be linked to from catalogs in libraries everywhere." Our past issues have included stunning work from Roger Bonair-Agard, Marty McConnell, Rachel McKibbens, Marcus Wicker, Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, Jamaal May, Jonterri Gadson, and many many other talented folks.

Muzzle  publishes poetry, visual art, interviews, book reviews, and poetry performance reviews. To submit to Muzzle, please use our online submissions manager (and be sure to check out our submission guidelines).

We highly encourage everyone to read past issues of Muzzle prior to submitting. Everybody has aesthetic biases. For more information on what we're about, check out our  interviews at Six Questions for... and
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