Here at the English Department, we are striving to create more of a community atmosphere where students, alumni, and faculty can all come together and share their experiences studying English (especially with this blog and our Facebook page). Towards this aim, we will be featuring alumni profiles. These profiles will either be in the form of interviews of the alumni about their experience with the study of English or as a guest post from the alumni member themselves.
Here is our first profile, alumni member Nate Logan: an active member in his writing community via his independent literary journal and press, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of North Texas.
Just curious, where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Why did you choose Ball State University?
I chose Ball State because it seemed to be the best fit for me. It was far enough away from home and it housed an inviting psychology department (my major).
How did your time at BSU help prepare you for the direction you took after earning your degree, and in what ways have you utilized your degree?
Ball State gave me my poetry legs. During my sophomore year, Peter Davis invited the poets Shanna Compton and Jennifer L. Knox to read at Mt Cup on their first book tour. At the reading, I had a total after school special moment—I knew that I wanted to be a poet. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted psychology to be my future or creative writing. But Shanna and Jen’s reading sealed it. I was a creative writing minor already, but knew after the reading that I wanted poetry to be in my future in a big way, not just as a casual thing. My poetry workshops with Peter Davis and Mark Neely really got me excited for writing poems. Dr. Mix was also integral in changing my focus to creative writing—she helped to deepen my understanding and love for literature and poetry.
I didn’t change my major, so I graduated with a psychology degree that I’ve not used for any job purposes. Only for poems.
What was your experience like in your MFA Program and do you have any tips for those considering that same route?
I loved my MFA program. I got mine at Minnesota State University Moorhead, which is right across the Red River from Fargo, North Dakota. Spending three years on my own writing was very important to me—I know the time allowed me to become a better poet, and writer in general. My professors, Thom Tammaro, Kevin Carollo, and Lin Enger, were very generous with their time for me and helped me to become that better writer I wanted to be. My MFA program also gave me the opportunity to teach a 100-level English class, as well as an upper level course on literary editing and publishing. I also made really good friends, who helped me become a better editor of my work.
My only tip would be to apply to as many programs as you can afford. There are so many MFA programs out there, there is going to be at least one, and probably more, that appreciate your potential and talents. Don’t be persuaded that the “top 25″ MFA programs are necessarily the best ones, there are gems all over the place.
What made you decide to go into a Ph.D. Creative Writing program and what was the process like finding a program and applying?
I wanted to get my Ph.D. for a few reasons. One, I wanted more time to write and get teaching experience. Two, I wanted to get a more thorough literature background. And third, I wanted to distinguish myself from the x number of other creative writers who want to teach college/university, which is where I want to be when I graduate.
Finding a program was relatively easy—relative in the fact that I think there are only 39 creative writing Ph.D. programs in the United States. Of course, there was some narrowing down of a list before I ended up in Texas. The application process was somewhat hectic because I was working on my thesis at the time, and all the programs that I applied to wanted the G.R.E., so I was alternating between studying and writing for a lot of the fall semester. It was a bit stressful, but totally worth it.
What and who influences you most as a writer?
James Tate is on the top of this list, but also Mary Ruefle, Michael Earl Craig, Dean Young, Shanna Compton, Jennifer L. Knox. I think a lot of poets probably take away a little something from each new writer he/she reads. I also really love the short stories of Lorrie Moore and Joy Williams.
Is there any advice you’d like to give or anything else you would like to say to BSU English students?
I would say to become human sponges—absorb what your professors are telling you. They are a great resource of knowledge and excellent teachers. Enjoy them while you have them.
We would like to thank Nate for kicking off our alumni profiles and to congratulate him on all he is doing.
We have more profiles in the works, as well as other guest posts and event posts, so keep watching, BSU!