Our MFA Graduates

Matt GallantMatt Gallant (CNF, '16): "One thing I've really loved about the MFA program at the University of Memphis is the small class size, which was important to me. There were just a handful of peers in my genre (nonfiction), and that allowed me to really get to know their writing and vice versa. That also allowed me to have really close access to faculty, writers I respect and admire. The MFA program is about growing as a writer, and working so intimately with my fellow writers and mentors really allowed me to grow. I'll also always be grateful for my time with the Pinch literary journal. I learned so much about writing and editing during my time there. I really got an idea of what was being produced by other writers doing the same sort of thing I was doing. Plus, because I was able to travel to conferences with the journal, I made valuable contacts with authors and publishers in the writing world that I never would have been able to otherwise. I love that Memphis focuses on exploring writing in other genres, too. I think growth is also contingent on stepping outside your comfort zone, something Memphis really taught me to do."

 

 

Krajniak photoMatt Krajniak (Fiction, '16): "My MFA experience was little like what I thought it'd be—and I'm constantly thankful for that. I went in thinking all I wanted to do was write, to barricade myself from distraction and get to work. And I did. I wrote enough to kill a hundred trees, but in that process I found the astronaut-like leaps my fiction made wasn't the only thing I wanted. Through teaching, I learned I enjoyed working with students and wanted that interaction, in some shape or color, in my future. Likewise, with The Pinch, I was enthralled by the curatorial processes of a literary journal and wanted to explore positions in publishing. These experiences developed my writing too: The depths of my comprehension were tested when teaching or arguing for an idea, which often modified my craft or process. That is, in spite of myself I now know better what I value aesthetically and professionally, and, now that I'm shoving off to be a doctoral candidate at the University of Houston, I plan to refine this understanding through a PhD. Will a PhD give me more Art-Ross-like 'happy accidents?' I think so. And, thanks to Memphis, I know precisely how indispensable those experiences can be."

  • Matt's Awards
    • Graduate Research Award, U of Memphis, 2015
    • Creative Writing Concentration Award, Fiction, U of Memphis, 2015
    • Nominee, AWP Intro to Journals Award, U of Memphis, 2014
    • Ruth and Henry Loeb Scharff Scholarship, U of Memphis, 2014
    • Nominee, Rebecca Argall Award for Exemplary Teaching, U of Memphis, 2013


McQuade photoEric McQuade (Fiction, '16): "Going to the MFA program at the University of Memphis was all about getting from one point to another for me. At home I didn't know a single writer, and what I knew about craft was self-taught. Now I know all sorts of writers, and I learn from them daily. Much of the dialogue you have in class seeps into you later. When you sit down to work days and months after the fact, you remember something your professor said, or a visiting writer, and it helps you feel loved in the lonesomeness that is writing fiction. Engaging with professors and classmates to glean this kind of knowledge takes little effort if you're passionate and ambitious. Regardless of all the lectures and short stories and literary events and craft books you consume here, you will never get better without generating new work. You can do that at home, to be sure, but you'll get an unfair advantage attending the University of Memphis. Consider your MFA as a catalyst for becoming the writer you want to be. If you're serious about writing, it makes all the sense in the world."

 

Baumann photo

Ruth Baumann (Poetry, '15): "My time in the MFA program at the University of Memphis was like magic, & I think it was like magic because a) everything is magic, when examined properly, & b) to be immersed in a community of people who speak my language—I mean, my slightly-crazy, poem-high, microscopic madness language—is pure, feelable magic. I'd gone from waiting tables for a year & a half out of undergrad to being surrounded by people who cared about language, who got electrified by verbs, who had to write with the same spiritual compulsion I did. I was saturated with poetry, which is the greatest gift I've been given in any graduate program (I'm now a PhD candidate in poetry at Florida State University). I was also given the gift of time, to focus on my writing & writing as a whole. My friend Matt Hellams refers to our jobs as freshmen composition teachers as 'language cheerleaders,' & I'm sure I inspired myself teaching equally if not much more than any of my students. I took the studio track Memphis offers, which meant I took workshops pretty continuously throughout my time there, which not only held me accountable to a writing production schedule, but exposed me to the talented & strange writers I was lucky to be surrounded by."

 

Haines photoDoug Haines (Fiction, '14): "From workshop to thesis and all points in between, the MFA I earned from the U of Memphis has given me the upper hand on the competition in a brutal market. In 2014, I won the program's Concentration Award for Fiction just before graduation. Since then, several of the stories from my thesis have earned either finalist or honorable mentions from contests, three stories have been accepted for publication, and the collection itself was named a semi-finalist in the 2014 Elixir Press Fiction Award and a finalist for the George Garrett Fiction Prize. I am currently teaching fulltime at Fayetteville Tech in North Carolina, where I've been asked to take over and completely revamp the creative writing courses. I also teach composition and literature, edit the school's literary journal, and serve as a faculty advisor for Sigma Kappa Delta, the English honors society for two-year colleges. And none of this could have been possible without the criticism, insight, and support I received—and continue to receive—from my peers and mentors at U of M."

  • Doug's Awards:
    • Creative Writing Concentration Award, Fiction, U of Memphis, 2014 

 

Moyer photoChris Moyer (Fiction, '14): "If an MFA program gives you nothing else, it ought to give you both time and accountability to produce work, and the program at the University of Memphis certainly did that for me. Not only do students find opportunities to hone their writing, but there are also abundant opportunities to teach a variety of courses at the university level. I also served on the staff of The Pinch, Memphis's literary magazine, through which I made valuable literary connections and further developed both editorial and design skills. (Not to mention that reading that slush pile teaches you an enormous amount about writing, reading, and publishing.) I began freelancing as a designer and editor before I graduated and now work full time as a book designer. Beyond the program, I still maintain relationships with that close-knit MFA community, from former classmates to professors." 

  • Chris's Awards:
    • Ruth and Henry Loeb Scharff Scholarship, U of Memphis, 2013
    • Creative Writing Concentration Award, Fiction, U of Memphis, 2013
    • Short story named to Wigleaf Press's "Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions of 2015."

 


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