Expanding the creative realm: Professors and students talk about opportunities for writers on campus

Anushka KC


Madina Seytmuradova

Variety Editor

Almost everyone at one point or another has written a poem or story, but not many share their works, let alone publish them.

“Do any people try to do uncreative writing?” said Michael Orlofsky, the director of the creative writing program at Troy University. “Writing up those ideas is one way that they (writers) identify what constitutes their psyche or spirit or imaginative life. Plus, a lot of times it is fun.”

Troy University has a large number of faculty members involved in diverse fields of creative writing.

“The chair, Dr. Curnutt, has published novels, Mr. Davis is into science fiction, Dr. Montgomery has a novel coming out soon, I’ve been working on the never ending novel set in the Italian renaissance. Dr. Thompson teaches poetry, Dr. Waters teaches poetry…” Orlofsky said. “They’re both published poets.”

The English department, according to Orlofsky, has been offering at least three creative writing classes per semester in the recent years. These, and the playwriting class offered by the drama department, make a total of four classes available to those interested in writing.

Students who write for leisure can attend the Creative Writing Guild (CWG), a student organization that meets every Tuesday and Thursday in Smith Hall 267 at 4 p.m.

“Because of their course schedule and whatnot, they (students) might not be able to take the creative writing classes, but this (CWG) gives them the opportunity to meet twice a week and share their work.”

Jason Fowler, a senior history major from Fortson, Georgia, and the president of CWG, who joined the club in the fall of 2013, said that all writing is creative.

“I define creative writing as the use of words to convey an artistic image through the aesthetic of the words themselves and the themes that they represent,” Fowler said. “(It) is defined less by its genre and more by the methods used to communicate a concept to the audience.”

This fall, the club has expanded greatly in members, according to Fowler.

“That group has grown from just a few dedicated souls several years ago to quite a large group now,” Orlofsky said. “And it’s not just English majors or creative writing minors; it looks like the group attracts kids from all kinds of majors and minors.”

Alia Walker, a fine arts major from Montgomery and another member of CWG, said she recently submitted a vampire story for peer review at CWG.

“I write about social issues, inter-racial couples and the like,” Walker said.

Students interested in publishing their works can submit to the Rubicon, the literary journal on campus that publishes an issue every semester, as Walker did.

Rubicon accepts poetry, short stories, literary essays, nonfiction and short plays. However, Hannah Edwards, a junior English major from Birmingham and the editor-in-chief of the Rubicon, said that creative writing itself is more than a set of literary forms.

“I think that a lot of students don’t fully understand that ‘creative writing’ isn’t just writing poetry or science fiction short stories,” Edwards said. “It’s writing with a purpose other than that purpose your professors assign to you.

“It’s an outlet in which you are allowed to say a lot of those things you don’t always get to say out loud.”

This semester, Rubicon reviewed original works submitted by students including 26 short stories and almost 40 poems. Fall issue of the journal, according to Edwards, will be published by the end of November.

“Some of the stories in the Rubicon, I recall reading in class,” Orlofsky said. “In fact, I’ve encourage them (students) to do that (submit their works) because the last couple of semesters I’ve taught that short story class, which I think fits very well into the format of the Rubicon.”

Some students, according to Orlofsky, include the stories they wrote in the creative writing classes in their graduate school admission packets.

“Several of our kids have gone on to graduate school in creative writing,” Orlofsky said. “We sent one to Iowa; there’s one who just finished up in Auburn, I think.

“Another one went to the University of Alabama in poetry. So, it’s the kids who persevere and are willing to challenge their talent. They go on.”

With the creative writing program itself growing, the department is exploring new possibilities. Orlofsky said he is considering the idea of a novella-writing class.

In addition, according to Orlofsky, the English department chair has brought up the idea of expanding the creative writing minor into an English major with creative writing emphasize.

“Your major would actually be a synthesis of literature and writing,” Orlofsky said. “I’d want it to be 50-50. We’re working on just the mechanics of that. ”

Orlofsky said that talent, dedication and experience are some of the important traits for a writer, and also gave a few words of advice.

“I think young writers need … not to take risks, but to expose themselves to the multifarious opportunities that the world provides,” he said. “So I’ll encourage my writing students to take advantage of cultural life at Troy.

“The plays, the foreign film series, the concerts, the recitals, the musicals, the dance recitals — it all contributes, I think, to fertilizing the imaginative life.”

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