Benjamin C. Roy Cory Garrett is a collective identity of dreams, anxieties and desperate prayers working, sometimes together, to challenge the agents of oppression and support the operatives of resistance, compassion and creative expression. The Benjamin C. Roy Cory Garrett that is claiming originative creative responsibility for this interview currently lives in Conway Arkansas where he (65% probability) is co-editor of the Black Unicorn Press, and creator of dozens of chapbooks, broadsides, and shameless acts of moderately artistic propaganda.
Rachel Hoge: Hi Ben, thanks so much for agreeing to share your thoughts on our MFA program. There are many unique features to our program, such as our Graduate Writers’ Association, our new online literary journal, our paid assistantship with the Oxford American magazine—just to name a few. Which opportunity has impacted you the most, and why?
Benjamin C. Roy Cory Garrett: Well, the opportunities for experience with a literary journal is what drew me into the program to begin with, but this program has extended me many opportunities, from getting the opportunity to teach college writing and creative writing, to getting to work with the Graduate Writers’ Association to secure future opportunities for our program like a program diversification accountability plan.
RH: What did you find most appealing about our program?
BG: The aspect of our program that has inspired me most as a writer is the encouragement to experiment and try new things on the page and to not pigeonhole myself into believing I am only a poet, or an essayist.
RH: Which faculty member were you most excited to work with, and why?
BG: Mark Spitzer. He went out of his way to bring me into the program and make me feel comfortable when I got here. He is also a writer that I knew would encourage me to write what I needed to write and worry about the form it would fit into later.
RH: In what ways has our MFA program transformed you as a writer, artist, or professional?
BG: I have had opportunities to read my work to audiences in multiple states, meet and work with some of the most innovate writers around the country with our Artist in Residence programs, and have written some work that I never would have guessed I had in me. It also helped me realize that I love working with students in the classroom and developing an inclusive creative learning environment.
RH: How will this degree be beneficial to you in reaching your post-grad goals?
BG: The program helped me realize that teaching writing is a passion of mine and is giving me the necessary experience and accreditation to pursue that dream.
RH: Why would you recommend the Arkansas Writers Program to an MFA applicant?
BG: Our program gives its writers the perfect blend of freedom and encouragement to discover and challenge themselves as writers and as citizens of a larger literary community. We learn the ins and outs of all of publishing on both large and small scales. We learn the fundamentals of teaching writing both creatively and rhetorically. We learn forms and theories for writing across genres, as well as have the opportunity to pursue our own writing interests, from special topics within established genres, to innovative fields like hybrid texts and literary translation. As much as I have learned about myself as a writer, I can say that I have learned that I have a place within the greater literary world that includes a support network that I will carry with me the rest of my life.
Stop by next Friday to meet another graduate student from the Arkansas Writers Program.