1. What is your background and how did you find such a lasting fit at UB?
I graduated from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins and started teaching in local schools. When I landed at UB, I was so taken with the diversity of students—most of whom had full-time jobs in addition to their classes—the unique and abundantly creative faculty from a range of disciplines, including graphic design and digital media, and the urban energy of the Mount Vernon campus.
2. How is UB different from every other master’s in fine arts program?
No other program that we know of has a dual focus on writing and publishing arts. No other program emphasizes creativity as something you can enliven and enrich throughout your life. [Students take “Creativity: Ways of Seeing” in their first semester.] And no other program teaches writers to design and produce their own handmade, electronic and printed books. Many of our students currently run their own publishing ventures.
3. What do students gain by learning to make these beautiful thesis books?
Students learn who they are as writers, artists, publishers—and what they really care about. When asked to create the physical form (or “home” as we call it) for their work, they come to understand their own writing voice. They learn how to push themselves as writers—and how to let go of their work when they publish it.
4. What is your program’s coined catchword “plork” all about?
Play + Work = Plork. It’s the animating spirit of the program—work as a form of play (not its antithesis) and play as a way of working. This is a kind of creativity that’s usually lost or abandoned after childhood. A willingness to experiment, to trust accident, to suspend judgment. So much good work happens when we are playful.
5. What will happen behind the scenes at your 10th anniversary bash?
We’ll recharge everyone’s creativity with workshops, enjoy alum readings and dance the Plork at an after-party. It’s a time to join our voices together and hear the emerging new sound.