Kirk Jordan Is a would-be poet and “Wave Entrapment Specialist” — serving as chief photographer for Arkansas Parks and Tourism. Kirk would like to thank you for paying your taxes so that he might gallivant about the state taking pictures of waterfalls, and lakes and stars…while you are sitting in your cubicles. Kirk is in his first year of the MFA program. As a photographer and writer, Kirk enjoys looking at natural things in less natural ways. He approaches seeing as a form of worship. His goal in life is to see God. Kirk is the husband of UCA Nursing professor Kerry Jordan, and dad to three grown girls. Kirk would have spun out long ago except for the stabling influence of his wife.
Rachel Hoge: Hi Kirk, thanks so much for agreeing to share your thoughts on the Arkansas Writers Program. In addition to writing, you have another artistic talent—photography. How do these two talents intersect one another, creatively and/or professionally? How has our program impacted you, overall, as an artist?
Kirk Jordan: My photography and writing form a symbiotic loop. My camera often leads me into places (both emotional and physical) that show up in my work — and people say that my poetry is highly visual. One difference: I pretty much know good photography. I know my way around. Not so much with writing. I am nervous and uncertain and have no idea where I will end up. But it is that very lostness which makes the writing craft both risky and exciting.
RH: As a first-year candidate, why did you decide to pursue your MFA? What did you find most appealing about our program?
EditorKJ: I’ll confess. I had one very strong reason for attending the UCA MFA program in particular. My wife is an instructor at in the nursing program UCA (and a newly minted PhD to boot). As part of the perks, I get a fantastic discount through the university. But more than that, my wife knows what a huge part writing played in my earlier life. Given the demands of the day job, I’d let my pen get rusty. Some thirty to forty years ago, I kept a dynamic written journal. Then I started working on poetry. I took a university course in the same, and dished out a body of written work over a decade. In time, the rush slowed to a trickle. My wife sensed that loss and figured I might benefit from structure. On a secondary level, I live and work in central Arkansas. I take evening classes, and have build my schedule around my existing day job as a photographer with Arkansas Parks and Tourism.
Beyond that, I have a story burning inside me. It will take some additional skills to unpack.
RH: Our program offers a unique focus on publishing by offering graduate positions with our new online, literary journal Arkana. As the Art Editor for Arkana, you were an integral part of the magazine’s launch. How has this position impacted your understanding of the publishing industry, and the process of collaborative, creative work?
KJ: It has been near thirty years since I last stepped in a classroom. So much is new. My work with Arkana has introduced me to yet another facet of the digital revolution. Before Arkana, I had little to no sense of digital submissions, collaborative digital editing, or even the wide range of digital journals out there. That said, I think Arkana stands out as being both fresh and inviting. It looks good too!
RH: Has the quality of your own creative writing been further developed and challenged by our program’s faculty and students? If so, how?
I would say that my writing – pre MFA, scored on imagination but suffered in both discipline and sophistication. The MFA itself provides structure, and I am being exposed, in both my reading and interaction with students, writing at a higher level. I may be an oddity. I figure I am one of the older students in our program (though I have age peers) but I have less general exposure to elements of modern craft and literature than many of my younger co-labors. I feel like I am absorbing much, at every level. I also have a deepening sense of community. We are a diverse bunch, but there is a real sense that we are pulling for each other, even as we help fan each other’s gifts. I deeply appreciate my instructors. I am looking forward to stretching my wings, next semester in a genre I have never attempted: fiction.
RH: Would you recommend the Arkansas Writers Program to an MFA applicant?
KJ: Of course. The program at UCA pushes creative writers to explore the full genre landscape, in a building community. I am most eager to see what we will produce as these years unfold.
Stop by next Friday to meet another graduate student from the Arkansas Writers Program.