Friday, April 27, 2012

Well here they are...

our newly minted MFAs all decked out in their super easy-to-wear hoods.

From left to right: Rachel King, Lisa Beans, Micah Holmes, Kelly Sundberg, Justin Anderson, Elissa Hoffman, Justin Crawford, and Matt London.

Congratulations to them and thanks for a terrific reading last night!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Readings, Congratulations, Readings...

April is National Poetry Month and, here at WVU, the month of readings and congratulations.

First: the readings.

This Thursday, April 26, we'll listen to undergraduates read from their capstone projects at the ENGL 418 reading at 11:30 a.m. in 130 Colson Hall.

Also on Thursday is the always wonderful MFA reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room.

This year, we'll hear from three fiction writers, three poets, and two nonfiction writers, all of whom have successfully defended their theses (or are just about to).

So congratulations to...

Justin Anderson, fiction, for a collection of stories entitled Gardeners. Justin's committee included Mark Brazaitis (chair), Jim Harms, and Ryan Claycomb.

Lisa Beans, poetry, for a collection entitled Pain Index. Lisa's committee included Mary Ann Samyn (chair), Jim Harms, and Mark Brazaitis.

Justin Crawford, fiction, for a collection of stories entitled '85 Flood. Justin's committee included Glenn Taylor (chair),  Jim Harms, and Sandy Florian.

Elissa Hoffman, nonfiction, for a collection of essays entitled Girl on a Roll. Elissa's committee includes Kevin Oderman (chair), Mary Ann Samyn, and Rosemary Hathaway.

Micah Holmes, poetry, for a collection entitled Where the Train Whistle Comes From. Micah's committee included Mary Ann Samyn (chair), Jim Harms, and Pat Conner.

Rachel King, fiction, for a novella entitled Tree Line. Rachel's committee included Kevin Oderman (chair), Mark Brazaitis, and Mary Ann Samyn.

Matt London, poetry, for a collection entitled Disaster Recover Drawer. Matt's committee included Jim Harms (chair), Mary Ann Samyn, and Mark Brazaitis.

Kelly Sundberg, nonfiction, for a memoir in stories entitled Demolition. Kelly's committee included Kevin Oderman (chair), Mark Brazaitis, and Mary Ann Samyn.

Finally... if you want to attend just one more reading, you can come to Sunday's Bolton Workshops reading at 6:30 p.m. in the Honors Hall.

Hope to see you soon at one (or all!) of these sure-to-be terrific readings!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two English majors named Outstanding Seniors

Congratulations to Crystal Harper and Ahna Lewis, two of our majors who have just been honored with the WVU Foundation's Outstanding Senior Award.  Only 36 students were chosen from the entire graduating class for this recognition, so it speaks well to our program that we have not one but two students on the list!

Crystal will be starting the MA program in English here this fall, and Ahna, who also completed the Benedum five-year teacher education program, is pondering a number of options, including an internship at this summer's Olympics in London.  Ahna also received the  William G. Monahan Award from the College of Human Resources & Education, given annually to the most outstanding preservice teacher.

We're so proud of Crystal and Ahna, and look forward to seeing how they put their extensive talents to use!

Read more about both of them here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hooray for Spring's Undergrad PWE Interns

Congrats to the ENGL 491A - Professional Writing & Editing Capstone undergraduates on their internship poster presentations on Tuesday.

  • Winner of the exhibit's Best Poster Competition, Samantha Neal shared how even forensic scientists at the Forensic Science Initiative need editing and writing skills to complement bloodspatter and fingerprint knowledge.
  • Brandon Marsh Skyped in from Washington D.C. to discuss his virtual work on NowComment, group collaboration and document annotation software.
  • Melissa Rhodes discussed the challenges of tracking down resources for articles and soundblogs at WVLiving Magazine.
Thanks to everyone who walked through the exhibit to support these young writers!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Congrats to Micah Holmes!

The theme at this year's poetry thesis defenses seems to be "That was fun! I didn't want it to end!" Or at least that's what Micah Holmes reported after his successful defense last Friday. Pat Conner, Jim Harms, and I agreed: we had a really great discussion with Micah who is, in case you didn't know, our resident sonneteer.

Micah is off to England soon where he'll continue his studies in Old English... and likely write more poems than ever about his West Virginia home.

Here's one we're particularly fond of.


On every son are hooks in trees, and cords.
Among the birch and oak I learned to look
for darting fur and rustling leaves. I learned
to listen—antlers cracking trunks—to kill.

Beside our house, a Christian place endures
a clumsy grace, a pastor drawing hell
in sharpie during sermon. Glowing night
enclosed another Sunday spent away.

We could go off the grid. The basement holds
enough to feed a fighting force of men.
And Dad would lay up on the roof and scope
the streets. I feel a need for death in him.

I may not pray to father's God. But I
was made from coal and grime. I breathe, I stand.

Congratulations, Micah! Send us a good old-fashioned postcard!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Congratulations to Justin Crawford

Justin successfully defended his MFA thesis this morning. So, let the image here remind you of just how real things can get in a hurry when conditions conspire, and then promptly buy the young man a beer.

The book, a collection of stories entitled '85 Flood, includes two stories that have already been accepted for publication. More of such celebratory news is sure to come.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Writing Contest Winners

Jon Scott Nelson Freshmen Creative Writing Contest

First Place
Paige Jarvis
“The Justice System”
Instructor: Ellesa High

Second Place
Kiersten Woods
“We Never Expect It to Happen to Us”
Instructor: Ellesa High

Third Place
Patrick Kennedy
“Olivia Constants”
Instructor: Sharon Kelly

Jon Scott Nelson First-Year Writing Award

Molly Buxton
“Persevere and Prosper”
Instructor: Andi Stout

Jenay Grant
“The Creative Process”
Instructor: Andi Stout

Elizabeth Newport
“No Regrets”
Instructor: Jason Kapcala

Jon Scott Nelson Professional Writing and Editing Award

First Place
Christian Coby
“An Introduction to Laboratory Techniques: Plate Streaking”
Instructor: Benjamin Myers

Second Place
Lindsay Wolf
“Understanding Shiitake Mushroom Inoculation”
Instructor: Benjamin Myers

Third Place
Monique Odom and Athar Nawab
“5K Walk/Run and Concert ‘For the Kids’”
Instructor: Elizabeth Juckett

Waitman Barbe Creative Writing Contest

Fiction Division
Eric Cipriani
“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”
Instructor: James Harms

Honorable Mention:
David Williamson
“Water Rings on the Hands”
Instructor: Maurice “Glenn” Taylor

Non-fiction Division
Brenna Ramirez
“The Nature of Ghosts”
Instructor: Ellesa High

Honorable Mention:
David Williamson
“Time Is Not A Proper Sentence”
Instructor: Ellesa High

Poetry Division
Amanda Darby
Various poems
Instructors: Mark Brazaitis and James Harms

Honorable Mention:
Travis Mersing
Various poems
Instructors: Mark Brazaitis

James Paul Brawner Expository Writing Contest

Undergraduate Division

First Place
Maria Miller
“Rhythm, Blues, and Langston Hughes”
Instructor: Erin Johns-Speese

Second Place
Paige Jarvis
“The Heart of the Matter: A Rhetorical Analysis of John F. Kennedy’s ‘Civil Rights Address’”
Instructor: Mary Angel Blount

Third Place
Alexis Cocco
“Polish Men and Pyromaniacs: The Art of Creating a Masterpiece”
Instructor: Ellesa High

102 Division

First Place
Cathy Lally
“The Interconnection of Science and Philosophy”
Instructor: David Beach

Second Place
Matt Saporito
“On Literature and Its Steps into the Future”
Instructor: Aaron Percich

Third Place
Darrian Duckworth
“From Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to Don’t Ask, Don’t Receive”
Instructor: Sarah Childers

Graduate Division

First Place
Aaron Percich
“Under The British Son: Irish Selfhood and Imperial Shadows in The Last September”
Instructor: Lisa Weihman

Second Place
Jericho Williams
“Far Beyond the Pages, a Morose Man Brushes Hair: Hugo Montmorency and Elizabeth Bowen’s Irish Gothic in The Last September”
Instructor: Lisa Weihman

Third Place
Phillip Zapkin
“Visiting Grandmother: A Question about the Ethics of the Friendly Teaching Persona”
Instructor: Nathalie Singh-Corcoran

Russ MacDonald Graduate Creative Writing Contest

Fiction Division
Rachel King
“The Red Heads”
Instructor: Mark Brazaitis

Honorable Mention:
Shane Stricker
“The Gospel According to Charlotte Atwater”
Instructor: Mark Brazaitis

Nonfiction Division
Rebecca Doverspike
Instructor: Katie Fallon

Honorable Mention:
Aaron Geiger
“My Poetic Map of the United States”
Instructor: Katie Fallon

Poetry Division
Melissa Atkinson
Various Poems
Instructor: James Harms and Mary Ann Samyn

Honorable Mention:
Lisa Beans
Various poems
Instructors: James Harms and Mary Ann Samyn

Appalachian Writing Award

M’lyn Gibson
“Wild Foods”
Instructor: Sarah Einstein

Matt Welch
“Just Some Good Ole Boys”
Instructor: Maurice “Glenn” Taylor

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dr. Stojanovic

John Ernest just reported:

"Congratulations to Nevena Stojanovic, who successfully defended her dissertation yesterday afternoon. We were so interested in the work she has done on the dissertation that we quite nearly performed a tableau vivant at the end. Nice work, Nevena."

The Tenants are highly amused at the thought of Nevena's committee, John Ernest (Chair), John Lamb, Katy Ryan, Michael Germana, and Heidi Kaufman (University of Delaware), striking a series of poses to illustrate the entire story arc of, say, The Golden Bowl, and, some are now arguing, a "faculty vivant" should become a standard part of all final oral defenses in the future.

The Tenants are also delighted to be able to give their congratulations to Nevena on the completion of her Ph.D.

No smart aleck comments when I say..

"Please sir, may I have some more?"...

WVU Libraries marks Dickens’ 200th birthday with exhibits, has original serial works

Long before any children attended Hogwarts, visited Narnia, or met a vampire, a scrawny 9-year old boy raised his empty bowl and asked for more food.

He had no wand, magic spell, nor lion to protect him. Yet the orphan set fear aside and stood up to authority. That literacy moment has inspired millions since Charles Dickens first penned the classic tale Oliver Twist, serially published, 1837-1839. One of the complete serial runs of the novel and other Dickens classics are housed in the WVU Libraries’ Rare Book Room.

“We all appreciate stories in which the little guy fights against the powers that be. That’s a theme with broad appeal,” said Kelly Diamond, a librarian at the West Virginia University Downtown Campus Library.

More online:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Graduate Assistant Position with the Regents BA Program for Fall


Academic Year 2012-2013

Nature of Program: The Regents BA (RBA) Program is a state-wide program offered at WVU through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. This innovative program serves non-traditional students and provides a comprehensive general education without the requirement of a major. The RBA office advises over 300 students per semester with emphasis on an individualized program of study to fit the student’s particular needs. RBA students are diverse in age, experience and interests.

Position Requirements: The GA position requires helping adult students plan their programs of study, assisting them with registration, updating RBA files and spreadsheets, and contributing to the general operation of the RBA office as needed.

The assignment requires 20 hours of work per week in the RBA office during regular office hours. Specific times are flexible to accommodate the GA’s classroom schedule as well as the needs of the students.


· Enrolled at WVU in a full-time graduate program 2012-2013. Preference given to Eberly College of Arts and Sciences students.

· Excellent communication skills and working with diverse student populations are essential.

· Ability to work effectively both independently and with supervision

· Knowledge of WVU’s program offerings and registration system is helpful.

· Word processing and computer skills are necessary, particularly Word and Excel.

· Ability to create and analyze spreadsheets for student trends and records management is necessary.

Eligibility: To be eligible for this position, applications must have been admitted to a full-time graduate program in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. If no suitable ECAS candidate is found, applicants outside the college will be considered.

Stipend: $12,400 for 9 months plus tuition waiver and basic health insurance. Starting date: August 15, 2012 and runs through May 15, 2013.

Application: Please submit a resume and cover letter addressing: 1) the requirements mentioned above, 2) your graduate program and 3) availability schedule, either as email or in person to Carol Hando ( Regents BA Office, 221 Armstrong Hall. Phone: 293-5441, ext. 4. Screening of applications starts April 30, continuing until a suitable candidate is found.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dr. Stupp

This just in from Professor Ryan:

"I am delighted to announce that Jason Stupp successfully and eloquently defended his dissertation, The Word and the World: the Activist Spirit in American Literature, 1968-1998. His committee members were Katy Ryan, Gwen Bergner, John Ernest, Michael Germana, and Catherine John (Univ of Oklahoma). Jason's dissertation is inspiring, intelligent, and beautifully composed. I highly recommend it.

Thank you for your vision & work, Jason. Congratulations!"

The Tenants are very happy to add their congratulations too.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Congratulations--again!---to Brian Ballentine

Remember when we lived in Stansbury and we longed for the day when we'd have an elegant room in which to have our pictures taken? Well, now we have that room---it even has a window!---windows are still pretty new to some of us---and Dr. Brian Ballentine was lucky enough to have his photo taken there to celebrate yet another teaching honor: this time the WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching.

The WVU Foundation award is a big deal, in case you didn't know, and, as a former member of the selection committee, I can tell you that the shocking thing that happens is that FACULTY FROM ENGINEERING AND THE MEDICAL SCHOOL and, yes, THE CAC choose the winners in Arts and Sciences. I know! That means, like, what someone does in English has to make sense on the other side of campus!

But of course Dr. Ballentine had nooo problem with this little task, and he is more than deserving of this honor, which is his third---yes, really, count 'em---teaching award this year. First the Eberly OT award, then the much-coveted Beagle, and now the Foundation award. Congratulations, Dr. Ballentine! We're duly impressed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Graduate Academy Summer Preview

For those who didn't get the email announcement, here is your...

Graduate Academy Summer Preview:

Summer is the best time to enhance your graduate training. Start planning now by looking at these options:

Preparing Future Faculty Workshop: May 9-10

This 2-day workshop provides detailed information on applying for college faculty positions, working at different kinds of institutions, and the criteria for promotion and tenure. See for more details and registration information.

STEM Entrepreneurship Essentials: June 4-6

Science Entrepreneurship Essentials is a 3-day program for doctoral students in the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines. The program will prepare you for a leadership role in developing or managing a business. You will learn how to best negotiate personnel issues, financial planning, marketing, and strategy for your company. See to register and apply for scholarship funding.

Grant Writing Summer Course GRAD 593 (2 credits): summer session 1

This course prepares students to write a grant to any major funding agency or private foundation.

WV Institute for Undergraduate Science Education: June 3-8

This one-week seminar provides tangible ways to promote active learning in teaching undergraduate STEM courses. See for more information.

Write Winning Grants Workshop: June 21

This one-day workshop offers an overview of how to create a persuasive grant proposal. A registration form will soon be available on

Dissertation Boot Camp, Humanities and Social Sciences: May 14-18

Dissertation Boot Camp, Hard Sciences: July 9-13

These one-week programs combine structured writing time, workshops on writing topics, peer critique, and individual consultations. The goal of the Boot Camp is to provide both personal help and a supportive group setting for doctoral students that have passed their qualifying exams. There is no fee for those attending the Boot Camp, but students will be expected to attend the entire week. Please email James Holsinger ( to secure your spot as space is limited for both sessions.

See for more details and registration information.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Double Congratulations to Lisa Beans!

Not only has Lisa Beans successfully defended her MFA thesis, Pain Index, but she also just found out that she's received a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship and will be going to Poland next year. So double—or more!—congratulations to Lisa from her committee (Jim Harms, Mark Brazaitis, Mary Ann Samyn) and, of course, all of you.

Here's a poem from Lisa's manuscript and, because we know how Lisa feels about landscape, especially her Nebraska home, here's a photo of Poland looking very much like, well, Nebraska (as we imagine it).


Today I Found Your Mother's Recipe Tucked Inside a Book of Poems

Now, I should describe the sky
or birds, endless variety.

But this ache like the time on wielded metal
I nearly cut off my pinky toe,

hanging limp: red and pink and glimpse
of white. The blood coloring the ground,

the ground inside my body. Healing
is only a murmur. Hundreds of dead

starlings, frozen in trees or scattered
on the ground: iridescent rotting apples.

Not a mystery (poisoned by a feed lot owner);
there is an explanation for nearly everything.

Congratulations, Lisa, and happy travels and send us some poems.