Gabrielle Lawrence is a poet and writer. She is pursuing her MFA in poetry at the University of Central Arkansas. Her writing can be found in Gravel Magazine, Words Apart Magazine, The Chaos: Journal of Personal Narrative and West Wind Literary Journal.
Rachel Hoge: You’re quickly, and quite impressively, establishing yourself in the publishing industry. You’re the Associate Editor of Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and the Co-Executive Editor of Trio House Press. How has our program offered you other professional development opportunities in editing and publishing?
Gabrielle Lawrence: Someone from the program actually recommended me for the position at Trio House. A peer and fellow poet admired my work and put in a good word. The program has also provided me with an opportunity to work with the Oxford American Magazine and Arkana Magazine. I’ve enjoyed working with both organizations. I’m making connections, discovering more about myself as a writer and editor, and I learn something new every day about the publishing industry.
RH: As a first year candidate, why did you decide to pursue your MFA? What do you hope to gain after three years with the Arkansas Writers Program?
GL: The MFA was a gift to myself. I wanted to dedicate my time here to my craft, to invest in myself as a writer before going any further in my education. I’m finding my voice, focusing on creating, and allowing myself time and space to act to my passions as a writer and see where that takes me.
RH: Tell us about your creative work and writing process—do you have a preferred genre or aesthetic? Are there forms you’re excited to try?
GL: I’m a poet, but I do enjoy nonfiction. I’m particularly interested in the relationship between poetry and the essay. In dealing with trauma theory, race, gender, and identity I find I’m better able to translate those ideas through fragment by experimenting with things like punctuation and white space. By using these methods I sort of fell into experimental and hybrid genre work. As far as my process, I’m still figuring that out. One of my goals with this program is to really figure out what works for me, and then become disciplined enough to make it a part of my everyday routine.
RH: In what ways do you hope your writing will be further developed and challenged by our program’s faculty and students? Do you have any artistic goals you hope to accomplish?
GL: I hope to learn all that I can about poetry as a craft, and I hope the program will support my efforts to better understand the relationship between social justice, activism, and writing. I’d like to leave the program with some sort of manuscript, and of course I would like to continue publishing.
RH: Why would you recommend the Arkansas Writers Program to an MFA applicant?
GL: I would recommend the MFA program for its flexibility. Since it’s new, students have a lot of freedom to speak into what they want out of the program. Dr. Vanderslice is also a huge proponent of “making it work for you.” So its easier to tailor your curriculum or find assistantships that will better suit you ass a writer and your future goals.
Visit our blog again soon to meet another graduate student from the Arkansas Writers Program.