Tuesday, September 29, 2009

First Week at OSU

By Tory Adkisson

Hey friends,

I can now stand among you (well, sit and blog anyway) as one of the few, the proud, the first workshopped! I have finished my first week at the Ohio State MFA and I am so pleased with the way everything went I could dip myself in butterscotch! Let me just breakdown what happened.

First off, we started school this week on Wednesday, so I have not yet had a full week yet--I doubt, though, that that will have any appreciable effect on my experience next week, and anyway, I need to tell you about what happened this week since it was, for me, the first foot dipping into this whole grad school enterprise. *Phew* anyway...

The first thing I did was teach my English 110 class. My lovely roommates made breakfast that morning, so I had a bite of something before running off to Denney Hall. I showed my friend how to make double-sided copies, printed off the most updated version of my syllabus then rushed off to the computer classroom I teach in on Wednesdays. This Monday I will be in a normal classroom. Our program is really invested in teaching new media and using technology in the classroom. Anyway, I was fine but became very frazzled when I had problems getting the technology to work. Luckily that fright subsided and the class and I began to sync as I found a comfortable footing as their teacher. They were enthusiastic about the topic I chose for the class ("Writing about Reality Television) and very receptive to discussion. Not all of them talked, but it was the first day, so I am not too concerned. I am very happy with my class so far and look forward to working with these kids and watching them grow!

My first class is a graduate level English class which is an introduction to film and film theory. The professor, Ryan Freidman, is a very nice and very cool guy, and the bevy of readings and films we will be discussing in class had got me percolating with glee. I love film theory and the idea of becoming more cultured though film is fantastic (right now we are watching Umberto D.) and exactly the kind of thing I hoped to take as a grad student. The class is themed around the notion of the decline of film and subsequent rise of digital cinema, and the implications that has for study of film as a discipline. Pretty cool, right? I love talking about the decline of things...it makes me feel so "in the know."

As far as workshop is concerned (remember why were here friends?) it was great. Kathy Fagan teaches the fall workshop, while Andrew Hudgins teaches it in the winter and Henri Cole (!!!) teaches it in the spring. Kathy assigned us the dubious task of writing a poem about finality (essentially a kind of death poem) after reading Frost's "Directive" and Yeats' "The Circus Animals' Desertion". It ended up being her birthday on our first day of workshop, so we got her a cake and sang the celebratory song to her as she blushed and thanked us for being so sweet. After that Kathy workshopped us in alphabetical order and, being gifted with a last name starting with "A," I was the first one up on the chopping block. I have to say it was great and an eye-opening experience--sure there was some requisite praise (about my sounds, use of meter, my ending lines) but the class addressed issues I hadn't considered such as the nature of the speaker's relationship to the you, and whether some of the imagery in the poem was useful considering its ultimate trajectory. It reminded me, after several weeks of TA training, that I came to OSU for my writing, and if the first workshop is indicative of what experience at OSU will be, then I am glad to be along for the wild ride.

Additionally, I have been reading slush for The Journal and will soon be reading poetry manuscripts for the The Journal's Wheeler Prize (judged this year by Andrew Hudgins!); I can hardly believe the way my life is going. I am really pleased with everything I have been exposed to so far! Here's to a wonderful year, and a great MFA program (my program) at OSU!


  1. SHUT UP! Andrew Hudgins and Henri Cole? Soooo jealous! I'm very curious about these workshop assignments. Everyone seems to be given assignment topics. My professor, however, does not assign them which is both a help and a hindrance. What do you think? Do you like having topics assigned? Also, that's interesting that you have an order to your workshop. When we workshop at UNCG, it's based on however we fall in the submissions pile. (Although I find it hard to believe it's random every time.) Will you have to submit every week, or is there a pattern now that you know how you will be reading?

    Sounds like you're off to a great start! Sorry to bombard you with questions. I guess I'm still riding that wave of excitement and jealousy about Andrew Hudgins!! :)

  2. Henri Cole is very nice :) I have never workshopped with him but he was very gracious at a signing I attended.

  3. Sounds like things are off to a great start in Buckeye Land :)

    I also, being an A last name, got workshopped first (ah, that seems so long ago now as we're into our 6th week). Glad it went well though, and I know what you mean about the constructive criticism.

    Oh, and I know Ryan Friedman - he rocks! He doesn't know me though, or at least I don't think so.

  4. Whitney: No problem with the questions. I am happy to answer what I can. The assignments are an occasional thing (Kathy's assignment is the only one I believe she plans on giving us) but we are able to request prompts when we are hitting walls in our writing. For me it was good to have an assignment to get the ball rolling, but I would feel too cornered if there were too many of them. I think from here on out will be going in alphabetical order, and we do submit a poem every week but we are required to have a portfolio of eight revised poems at the end of the workshop this fall.

    I haven't talked much to Andrew, but Henri is great. He's my advisor and right now he's in Italy on some kind of fellowship. One thing I love about him is that whenever I email him he replies by calling me on the phone. I can't wait to work with him more one on one when he comes back in the winter.

  5. Sounds like a great first week! Glad you're doing so well!

  6. Glad things are going so well for you! Your program really sounds like it has a lot to offer.


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