Sandra Beasley to Visit Campus

The Department of Writing & Linguistics is pleased to announce that poet and non-fiction writer Sandra Beasley will be returning to campus for a reading Friday, April 4th.

There will be an informal Q&A session with Beasley in Newton 1108 at 4:00 pm, and she will give a reading from her work at 7:00 pm in IT 1005 that evening. These events are free and open to all students, faculty, and staff.

Author of I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Theories of Falling, winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize, her poetry has been acclaimed as “fresh, crisp, and muscular. They are decisive and fearless. Every object, icon, or historical moment has a soul with a voice. In these poems these soulful ones elbow their way to the surface of the page, smartly into the contemporary now.”

Her most recent book, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, is a memoir and cultural history of food allergies.

Beasley earned her MFA at American University and worked for several years as an editor for The American Scholar. She is currently a professor in University of Tampa’s low-residency MFA program for creative writing.

For more information on Beasley and her works, you can visit her website or her blog The event is co-sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Circuit.

Below is one of her poems from I Was the Jukebox:


Show me a tent of well-dressed witnesses
and I’ll show you how a circus catches fire:
elephants trying to squeeze down the aisle,
monkeys dancing from pole to hot pole
until the roof collapses. Will you be water?
Will you be ashes? Will you be enough gauze
for a gown? In the stampede, a woman runs
ten yards before noticing the hand she holds
is not her husband’s. She keeps running.
Do you blame her? Convince me eternity
is just this art of surviving, over and over.
Promise you’re worth my weight in burning.


2014 Roy F. Powell Award Winners Announced

The Georgia Southern University Department of Writing and Linguistics is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Roy F. Powell Awards for Creative Writing.
In poetry, the winner is Cady Ennis for her poems “[to my brown eyes on the piano bench: hung like so many men],” “Steal the Lines of Other Poets,” and “Evening is best worn off-white.” Honorable Mentions are James Devlin, Christina Martinez, and Yavaria Ryan.
The winner in fiction is Amanda Malone for her story “The Trick to Knots.” Honorable Mentions are Yavaria Ryan, Taylor Tyson, and Jeff Licciardello.
Sarah Fonseca is the winner in creative nonfiction for “The Trouble with Water.” Jordan Taylor, Taylor Tyson, and Yavaria Ryan received Honorable Mention.
The winners receive a cash award of $100.00, a framed award certificate, and recognition at the University’s Honors Day ceremonies on April 2nd. In addition, their work will be published in Miscellany, the campus arts magazine.
The winning manuscripts were chosen from a large number of highly competitive submissions, according to creative writing faculty judges Emma Bolden (poetry), Jared Sexton (fiction), and Theresa Welford (creative nonfiction).
Cady Ennis, a senior from Mount Vernon, Georgia, is a writing and linguistics major whose work has been influenced by many writers, including George R.R. Martin, Jane Austen, Audrey Niffenegger, D.A. Powell, Ernest Hemingway, and J.K. Rowling. Poetry judge Emma Bolden stated that Cady submitted “a series of poems thrilling in even the smallest moment: every word, every phrase, every line break, every space, seemed perfectly picked to resonate with each other and create richly textured poetic landscapes.”

Cady Ennis
Amanda Malone, from Garrison, New York, is an English major with a minor in writing. Raymond Carver and Larry Brown are her literary influences. Fiction judge Jared Sexton said of Amanda’s story: “What I admire about this piece is the economy, the way each sentence is chiseled and chock-full of meaning. The effect is a story that seems, at first glance, a calm and tranquil narrative about youthful exploration, but upon further examination reveals a dense and troubling undertow that threatens to drown a family that’s just barely staying afloat.”

Amanda Malone
Sarah Fonseca is a writing and gender studies student from Lincolnton, Georgia. A Lambda Literary fellow, her work has appeared in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Thought Catalog, and Autostraddle. She likes dental floss, taking things literally, and tricking people into having chill conversations about heavy subjects. Creative nonfiction judge Theresa Welford noted that Sarah’s “braided essay is like a sequence of lyric poems, immersing readers in meditative thoughts and vivid sensory details.”

sarah fonseca

Graduate Spotlight: Loren Dempsey

Many of our students go on to work in the writing field and become published writers. One of those students is Loren Dempsey, who graduated with a writing & linguistics degree in 2012. Since then, he has published his first novel, Rosemary, which is the beginning of his Lineage of Zeal series. I had the chance to catch up with Loren and learn more about his book, his writing process, and what his next plans are.
The book follows the story of Rosemary, a woman whose child is taken from her by demons, as she journeys across the Kingdom of Gratia and the rest of the Western Continent in search of her son. Along the way she meets friends as well as enemies, and must overcome her own single-mindedness to find her son again.
Below you’ll find my interview with Loren to learn more about his book and advice he has for aspiring writers.


What was your writing process like for this book?

There were times when I’d go months between chapters, not writing a word. But to say I wasn’t “writing” would be incorrect. Almost constantly in the back of my mind, I was plotting. I was thinking of scenes, of conversations, of events, of causes and effects. I talked to my characters and asked them questions and followed them around. My process was more like research than outright creation; I created these characters, yes, but then I let them live out their lives while I shadowed them and took notes. Eventually, I would be so stuffed with material that I’d have to sit down and write an entire chapter in one go.

For you, what was the hardest part of writing this book?

Honestly, the act of just sitting and writing. Despite knowing that I can’t improve what isn’t written down, I always have the hardest time starting. It’s not dialogue I have issues with, not setting, description, or formatting for publication, but simply starting to write new material. A close second is editing. Not because of anything psychological like starting writing, but because that is the weakest aspect of my writing overall.

What was the most enjoyable part?

I’d have to say the most enjoyable part of writing this is hearing people talk about it. As of now, they aren’t many, and it’s usually me they’re talking to, but the fact that I have created something that even one person has an interest in is just the best feeling. We talk about my characters as though they are alive—because they are—and we talk about the world they inhabit. Nothing beats the feeling of someone wanting more of and sharing your passion for what you’ve created.

You decided to go the self-publishing route. Can you tell us about that process and your experience with it?

I decided to publish with the CreateSpace platform run by Amazon. The process itself isn’t too difficult, but what they don’t tell you is how expensive it can be. Sure, they have free cover-creation tools, but what they offer isn’t ever going to turn heads. A professionally done cover can cost hundreds. Same for formatting you book for print. Editing especially can cost, and if you try to skimp like I did on a freelance site, well, you get what you pay for. But the biggest roadblock that I was not expecting was promotion. Ad space costs. Reviews can cost. Promotion costs. I was neither ready for nor expecting just exactly how much it would take to properly promote my first novel without the help of an agent whose paycheck is also riding on my success.

What advice would you give writing students about the writing and publishing process?

I would suggest telling the story you are passionate about telling, even if it conflicts with “what’s selling.” Write what makes you feel alive, write what makes you feel giddy when you read it back, write what sends shivers down your spine when read aloud. Because if what you write doesn’t move you, how can you expect it to move anyone else? You may have to write things you don’t want to from time to time, but remember that is also a useful experience. Learning to expand your written horizons will only serve to further enrich your craft.

How do you feel Georgia Southern and the department helped to prepare you for a career in writing?

My decision to self-publish was weighted by information I had gathered during classes in the department. At first, I was afraid to, but the department showed me that, though, I might not be an immediate smash hit, with the way things are going today, taking the self-publishing could actually be a useful tool in getting my name out in the world. They also did not shy from the fact that writing is hard, and that the life of a writer is difficult. It’s not a life that can be lived passively, and I thank them for teaching that lesson.


Loren is currently working on the second book in the Lineage of Zeal series, as well as several other writing projects. He is also pursuing a career in Japan teaching English, and hopes that the experience will enrich his writing.

His book, Rosemary, can be found at Amazon.  Congrats Loren, and we hope to hear more about you and your writing accomplishments soon!