The Saint Rose Theatre has the chance to upgrade some of their decades-old equipment! Your donations can help the Saint Rose Theatre buy new lights, cable, sound management, etc., that would immensely benefit production value and increase learning opportunities for theatre students within the department. Please help us continue to make innovative theatre at the College of Saint Rose!
[Image of pizza via the School Photo Project]
As graduation approaches, we interview M.F.A. graduate Samson Dikeman. Samson not only took the class, but he also was able to have Pardlo as one of the readers for his thesis in poetry.
Gregory Pardlo was a visiting writer at The College of Saint Rose and you took his class. How do you think his insight and teaching techniques affected or changed your work?
Greg Pardlo was a wonderful teacher to have. I think the thing I took away from his class more than anything else is the realization that you must challenge yourself on every word in your poem. You have to ask if the word is right for for the poem and if not, replace it. It helped me cut out a lot of fluff in my poems.
What made you choose Pardlo to be one of your readers for your thesis?
I chose Pardlo as one of my readers because of his expertise. You get the sense when you work with him that he has a tremendous gift for reading poetry and identifying what is making it tick. He knows the right questions to ask and I felt like I needed that for my thesis project.
How did the news of Pardlo receiving the Pulitzer affect you? How did you feel? What were your thoughts?
When I found out that Pardlo won the Pulitzer, I was like a giddy schoolgirl (If that’s still PC); it was amazing. I went around and started telling everyone about it. It’s such a great honor for him. Digest is a wonderful book; I’m very happy for him.
Do you have any poems of Pardlo’s that you would recommend a reader check out?
As far as poems to read, definitely check out Digest from Four Way Books . As far as individual poems, I love “Problema 4” from Digest and “Written By Himself,” which was published in Best American Poetry 2010 and can be read online.
Congratulations to MFA student Juliet Barney for receiving a graduate research grant. Juliet plans to use the grant money for traveling expenses to Lake Placid to research the setting for her thesis novel. To celebrate her accomplishment we decided to do an interview with her to get more information on the grant and the writing process!
First, congrats on receiving a graduate research grant! What do you plan on doing with the grant?
One of the main issues I’ve faced while working through my thesis is differentiating it from other realistic young adult novels. Capturing the essence of teenagers is a difficult task and for my novel, I’m aiming to portray a realistic view of the modern teenager growing up in a small town–specifically, Lake Placid–where I grew up. But, I’m seven years removed from that specific lifestyle and I’m going to use the grant to conduct hands-on research with current students.
I’m working with English teachers at the high school, coordinating dates and times where I will go in and guest teach classes – introduce creative writing, share my experience with writing, and conducting interviews with students about their current experiences. I’ll be simultaneously gathering information to personalize my novel to the small town experience while spreading the knowledge I’ve gained during my time at Saint Rose.
You have been working on your thesis this semester. Now that the semester is coming to a close do you have any advice for students on time management, the process of writing the thesis, or any other helpful hints that they might use when facing this big task toward graduation?
The process of writing my thesis has been a completely eye-opening experience. It’s not like I’m writing a paper for class that will go into an electronic file, never to be seen again. This is something that I will, hopefully, publish once I’m finished. So, it’s less like school work, and more like a glimpse of what post-grad life will be like. As a result, I was forced to abandon my usual dance of procrastination and figure out what time management even meant.
I set a strict schedule, like it was a real job. I woke up every morning at 7am, made a cup of coffee, and forced myself to write three pages a day until I reached my page goal. Now, I follow the same schedule, but instead of adding three pages, I revise a scene every day.
Creating a set schedule was my saving grace. It forced me to move forward at a steady rate allowing me an enormous amount of time for revisions. Otherwise, I would still be writing in circles, playing catch up.
Now that you have been entrenched in the thesis writing process have you found any new authors or books that helped you in your research of the young adult novel?
Researching young adult novels has proven rather difficult. Essentially, my only resource is current YA fiction. The status of YA lit is widely debated. Many critics don’t believe it should be considered a literary genre, because it’s not worthy of criticism. So there isn’t a lot of of scholarly texts specific to writing YA lit. It’s forced me to get a little creative in which books to read and what fiction techniques work for YA, which is why hands-on research is so important for the creation of my novel. The research grant will really help in this aspect.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I want to write and write and write until I’ve said everything I’ve ever wanted to say.
What do you think you will miss the most from your experiences at the College of Saint Rose?
I’ll miss the relationships. I’ll miss my professors and their willingness to help me work through any professional woes. I’ll miss my classmates with whom I’ve formed lifetime bonds with and I’ll miss the barista at Starbucks who has memorized my order.
It’s not that these relationships will disintegrate when I walk across the stage, but I won’t be able to experience the daily community atmosphere. I spent seven years at Saint Rose working towards this ultimate goal and I’ll miss the community that helped me get to this point.
Are you local to the area? Where you from? Why Albany?
I am not local. I am from Johnstown New York, a very small town about 45 minutes outside of Albany. Really I chose Albany because it is a reasonable commute between there and Johnstown and I’m able to keep my tutoring job at FMCC while attending classes.
Why a Master’s Degree in English?
I’m getting a Master’s Degree in English for the simple fact that I love to read and write. So I guess through Master’s study I’d like to become not only a better reader and writer but a more persistent one and ultimately a more serious one.
Who is your favorite author?
This changes all the time, but for the moment I would have to say William Faulkner.
What do you hope to accomplish by the time you graduate?
I would like to become a better speaker. I still have a tremendous fear of public speaking which for some odd reason is heightened all the more by being in a classroom. This is not a good thing for someone who eventually wants to teach! So hopefully I can get past that and learn to speak clearly and coherently in front of an audience!
What are your long-term goals for your degree?
I would like to teach English at a community college. I went to Fulton-Montgomery Community College when I got out of high school and it was the best decision I ever made. I would have failed miserably if I had gone straight to a four-year college. I now work as a tutor at FMCC and I work with students who have the intelligence to succeed in the higher education system but for various reasons require smaller and more hands on learning in-order for them to develop. Community colleges offer this to those students and I would like to be a part of it.
What was the last good book you’ve read?
I recently read the Zuckerman Bound Trilogy by Philip Roth and loved every bit of it.