Shane Allen Curry hails from right here in Arkansas, where he received his Bachelor’s in English at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. He enjoys writing for older young adults, mostly about weird shit. When he’s not wrestling with his muses, he’s also prone to video games, country karaoke, and this crazy new Pokémon hunting app called Grindr.
Rachel Hoge: Hi Shane, thanks so much for agreeing to share your thoughts on the Arkansas Writers Program. You have a particular interest in genre and young adult fiction, which can be difficult to find academic instruction on. How has your writing in these fields been further developed and challenged by our program?
Shane Allen Curry: Well, I can say I was definitely worried about how my work would be received my first year! But I was worried for nothing. My teachers have gone above and beyond to reassure the value of my work — of all writing — and have never made me feel like my fiction has any less worth because it’s genre fiction. Workshopping under professors that prefer more literary work has only allowed me to reflect even deeper on what my writing is doing, what it’s saying, how deep it can go. I recently concluded my time in Stephanie’s Young Adult Novel class, which taught me a lot about the challenges and worth of young adult fiction. I believe it and genre fiction can be just as complex and critically engaging as literary fiction and that’s been reinforced by this program.
RH: As a second year student, how have you applied the knowledge and experiences of last year into your second year? How do you hope this year will shape your third and final year in our program?
SAC: Last year, I gained a lot of insight and self-awareness about where I can go as a writer that I had previously never explored, and I’ve tried to carry that forward and continue to work on that. I learned a lot about my own voice, my characters’ voices, and what really matters to me on the page. All these things have made my work even more authentic and accessible I feel like. I’m hoping I can take that, and what I’ve learned this year (specifically some of the things I’ve adapted from Sandy’s poetry classes) and see how I can put them to work as I start my thesis project.
RH: In what ways has our MFA program transformed you as a writer, artist, or professional?
SAC: One way in which our program had changed me is I actually think of myself as a writer now. Maybe that’s a little silly or shocking, but I don’t think I had the security or confidence in myself perhaps. And this program has not only strengthened my confidence as a writer, but also my voice and my skill as a writer. I think in deeper layers than I did as an undergraduate and know more intimately who I am writing for.
RH: How has the faculty of our MFA program impacted you, professionally and artistically?
SAC: I’ve definitely been pushed to think about the literary merit of my work. About the places my writing can go and what it can say and how it can say it. But professionally, it’s really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve submitted more, presented more, experimented more, when before I hadn’t really had the balls to do so.
RH: Why would you recommend the Arkansas Writers Program to an MFA applicant?
SAC: You grow so much here. You find out so much about yourself and your craft and where you fit in the writing community at large. And there’s so many directions our MFA can take you. Professionally and artistically. Before starting here, I thought my only options were teaching, and while I’ve learned a lot about pedagogy here, I’ve learned so much about editing and publishing, and had never once considered going down that career path. Also working in forms outside of my natural habitat has made me reconsider what I’m capable of and how leveling up my understanding and experience in things I once had never tried, like poetry of non-fiction, can really lend *so* much to my work. I’m so grateful for being pushed to work outside of what’s familiar to me here and I think other writers can learn and grow so much from the experiences our MFA offers as well.
The MFA profiles of the Arkansas Writers Program will return next month.