City/State of Residence: Waynesville, OH
Brief Bio: I live in Waynesville, Ohio where I work part time for The Antioch Review, and am active in the poetry community. I have had poetry and prose in Baltimore Review, Waccamaw Literary Journal, Scythe, Reprint Poetry, Phoebe Journal, and others. In 2010, my poem “Wordsplay” was selected by poet Dan Beachy-Quick as the first runner up in the Phoebe Journal’s annual poetry contest, and my poem “All I Know About Four O’clocks” was nominated for a Pushcart award in 2011. I have had interviews, essays, and book reviews published in Poet’s Quarterly, Rattle Magazine, and elsewhere on the web. My chapbook, The Surly Bonds of Earth that was selected in 2010 by Stephen Dunn as the winner of the Letter Sauvage Contest.
What initially drew you to Ashland's MFA Program? I was working full-time when I first considered attending an MFA program, so I liked that Ashland had a single, two-week residency vs. two separate weeks throughout the year, which enabled both me and my employer to plan better. Also, I was very impressed with the faculty.
What did you appreciate most? I appreciated the residencies the most. I loved being in the company of other writers for two solid weeks. At first, I was glad from a logistics standpoint that the residencies were contiguous two-week sessions. Over the course of the program, I came to appreciate the fact that the two weeks together provided me with a better opportunity to become more fully immersed in the workshops and craft seminars, and to really get to know classmates and faculty over an extended period. That was a surprise that I have come to appreciate more and more.
I loved the setting of the program at Ashland University. It is a beautiful campus. The second two years of residency, we were housed in the university’s senior housing which was wonderful—comfortable, nice-sized apartments shared by four students. It was conducive to working and to interacting with classmates in an informal setting.
How do you feel this program impacted you? I wouldn’t be where I am today in my writing. I also feel as though I have made life-long friends in the arts that are as meaningful to me as the formal learning.
What do you feel was the greatest takeaway? I took from the experience a more critical ear for what poetry is, what it sounds like, and what it can do. Even preparing a critical paper in the third non-residency semester provided me with the opportunity to renew a writing skillset I hadn’t used in a while—theory development, research, expository writing, deeper critical analysis of the literature, revision and document preparation.
What was the subject or theme of your thesis? My thesis was a collection of poems that focused on being in between seasons, ages, loves, realities, and locales.
Finally, what are you up to now? Current occupation, or otherwise: Currently, I work part time for the healthcare system I left after 30 years, and at The Antioch Review. I write about poetry on my blog at www.n2poetry.com. I read and write every day and submit my work to journals and magazines. I do readings from my chapbook in venues throughout Ohio. I maintain a close relationship with several of my Ashland University classmates.
Feel free to contact Grace if you have any questions about her experience at Ashland: Gecurtis81@woh.rr.com