Ashland University MFA program claims success through graduates

Staff report

Adam Gellings

Adam Gellings

Ashland University’s MFA Program believes the best way to promote its success is though the success of its graduates, and if that’s the case, the program is doing very well these days as three MFA graduates have been named current scholarship/assistantship winners in Ph.D. literature programs.

“One of our current poetry students — Adam Gellings — just received a full tuition scholarship and a teaching assistantship to study in the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton Ph.D. Program in Literature with a creative dissertation,” said Dr. Stephen Haven, director of Ashland University’s MFA Program.

Gellings, a native of Columbus, Ohio, is expected to graduate from the Ashland MFA Program in July 2016 and will start the program at SUNY in September 2016. Gellings is just beginning to publish his poems in journals.

Haven said Gellings is the third AU MFA student to receive a full tuition scholarship and teaching assistantship in Ph.D. literature programs in just the past four years. The other two are Marci Vogel, a California native and 2011 Ashland MFA graduate in poetry, and Kristin Distel, a native of Clyde, Ohio, who graduated in poetry from the Ashland MFA Program in 2013.

Vogel started at the University of Southern California Ph.D. Program in Creative Writing and Literature as a Provost’s Fellow, the most prestigious fellowship available for new students in that program. She was an elementary school teacher for many years and her first book of poems, “At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody,” won the 2015 Howling Bird book publication competition and was published by Howling Bird Press in September 2015.

Vogel, a native of Los Angeles and first-generation college student, has had her poetry, translations and essays appear in a number of publications, including FIELD, Plume, Jacket2, ZYZZYVA, Puerto del Sol, Poet Lore, Colorado Review and Seneca Review. Awarded a 2014 Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, Vogel’s writing also earned recognition from the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the AWP Intro Journals Project, and the James Jones Literary Society.

Distel, who also received her undergraduate degree from Ashland University as an English and creative writing major, won a full tuition scholarship and teaching assistantship in the English Ph.D. Program at Ohio University. She has published many poems and critical essays.

A listing of Distel’s critical publications include: “‘Are you sure she was your sister?’: Sororal Love and Maternal Failure in Toni Morrison’s Paradise. Article will appear in Toni Morrison and Mothering/Motherhood. Forthcoming 2016, Demeter Press; “‘Crown’d’ and ‘Endured’: The Language of Tyranny and an Ethic of Peace in Macbeth and The Sound and the Fury: Appendix.” Article will appear in Shakespeare: New Critical Perspectives. Forthcoming 2016; “Beneath an Undivided Sky”: Environmental Disorder and Human Passivity in Theodore Roethke’s “Interlude.” Article will appear in A Field Guide to the Poetry of Theodore Roethke. Forthcoming 2015; “Restoring Broken Bodies: The Ekphrastic Poetry of Larry Levis and Natasha Trethewey.” Article will appear in Ekphrasis in American Poetry: The Colonial Period to the 21st Century. Forthcoming 2015, Cambridge Scholars Publishing; “‘Teach the Paints to Speak’: Mythology and the Muse in the Ekphrastic Poems of Mather Byles and Phillis Wheatley.” Article will appear in Ekphrasis in American Poetry: The Colonial Period to the 21st Century. Forthcoming 2015, Cambridge Scholars Publishing; “The Red Death and Romeo: Poe’s ‘Magnificent Revels’ as a Re-vision of the Capulet Masquerade.” Article will appear in Perspectives on Edgar Allan Poe: Collected Essays. Forthcoming 2015, McFarland; “‘The Meaning of Charity’: Misconduct and Altruism in Arrested Development.” Article appears in A State of Arrested Development: Critical Essays on the Innovative Television Comedy. Jefferson: McFarland, 2015. (ISBN-10: 0786479914); and “Gendered Travel and Quiescence in Toni Morrison’s Paradise.” Article appears in Women’s Utopian and Dystopian Fiction 2013, Cambridge: Cambridge UP (ISBN-10: 1443848948).

Distel’s creative publications include poems — “The Price of Skin and Blood,” “Unmarked Grave,” and “First Lessons.” Lehigh Valley Vanguard, July 2015; “Heritage”, “Salt”, “Candle”, “Evensong”, “Lost in the Graveyard” and “Siate Immortale.” The Stockholm Review of Literature. Issue #8, Spring 2015; “Still.” The Broken Plate. Issue: Spring 2015; “Interminable Day—Clyde, Ohio.” Flyover Country Review. Issue: July 2014; “Ai, Ai” and “Book of Fire.” The Minetta Review. Issue: Spring 2014; “Vestal,” “Scala Sancta,” “Following the Arno,” and “Take Me In.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics. Issue: Autumn 2013; and “The Sound of Stone.” DIN Magazine. Issue 4, 2013.

Haven noted that acceptance into a Ph.D. program is just one benchmark for student success in the MFA program. “Many of our students have gone on to succeed in other ways, including successful publications, teaching and landing great jobs that promote the literary arts,” he said. “Three of our alumni have landed full-time teaching jobs in four-year colleges, while many more of our graduates teach in junior colleges and in high schools.”

Haven said the three with full-time teaching jobs in four-year colleges are: Joey Connelly, who graduated in poetry from the MFA Program in 2010 and is assistant professor of English at Kentucky Wesleyan College; David Wright, who is an Ashland MFA poetry graduate in 2011 and is assistant professor of English at Monmouth College (Illinois); and Laurie Murray, who is a 2013 Ashland MFA graduate in creative nonfiction and is Lecturer of English at Anderson University (South Carolina).

Wright’s first book of poems, “The Small Books of Bach,” was published by Wipf & Stock Press in 2014.

Adam Gellings Gellings

Staff report