Ashland MFA graduate publishes his first book of poems
While searching for Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programs with an emphasis on poetry, Adam Gellings said he felt very intimidated by the process.
“I didn’t have that feeling when I was looking into Ashland,” said the poet and adjunct instructor for the Department of English Language and Literature at Columbus College of Art & Design. “It really felt like the right fit pretty early on in my exploration of the program.”
That experience at AU from 2014 to 2016 has opened many doors for him, including a seamless transition into a Ph.D program at Binghamton University and many connections to other writers, faculty and administrators, Gellings said.
It’s also led to his recent debut book of poems, “Little Palace,” published by SFA Press.
“There are two or three poems written during my time at Ashland that made it into ‘Little Palace’,” he said. “The most important thing I learned as a writer came from my time in the MFA program at Ashland, and that was to figure out a writing schedule and stick to it.
“It was also a relief to hear that I didn’t have to write every day to be a writer,” he added, “but how important it was to read from your genre of interest every day when you are generating new material or trying to revise a piece that isn’t working, carries so much inherent value as a writer.”
One of the things he most enjoyed about working on his book of poems, which took several years to complete, was traveling to Paris in 2015 as part of his summer residency in the MFA program at Ashland.
“Shortly after I landed, I made a deal with myself to do whatever it takes to return each year for the rest of my life to write and to visit the city that has shaped me in so many ways as a writer,” Gellings said. “Excluding the height of the pandemic in 2020, I’ve been fortunate enough to live up to the deal that I made during my first day there, for typically between two to six weeks each summer. It’s had that big of an impact on me.
“Almost all of the poems in ‘Little Palace’ had their origins in Paris,” Gellings added, “so the most rewarding part of the composition of this book was doing whatever I could to get back to Paris each summer to find material and ideas for poems that would eventually make it into the manuscript.”
While he’s in Paris, Gellings also runs a two-week poetry workshop open to writers at any point in their careers (https://www.adamjgellings.com/parisworkshops).
Gellings, whose poems have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, has been shopping his second book of poems, “The Dusting of Small Houses,” to publishers and is halfway through a third manuscript of poems, titled “Blue City.”
In addition to the distance learning aspect of Ashland’s MFA in Creative Writing program, Gellings said he liked how it heavily focused on reading contemporary poets and on generating material at a pretty persistent clip.
“I had long considered myself a writer, but in theory only,” he said. “Once I got into the program my productivity skyrocketed and, in the process, my approach to reading, writing and research improved, as well. I developed a pretty intense writing schedule that I still keep today. I really craved the disciplined schedule, deadlines and the pursuit of knowledge within my area of interest that I was acquiring each semester.
“My time in the MFA program at Ashland really served as the foundation for where I am as a writer, and as a person,” he added. “It gave me this sense of purpose that I had been seeking for such a long period of my life.”