Lessons from Hitting the Road

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since my last post! This is what happens once the semester gets going in earnest, and this semester I’ve been even busier. Besides working on various proposal documents for our MFA in Creative Writing (see recent posts), I’ve been hitting the road to promote the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium. The nice thing about this has been the chance to meet with so many alumni of Mississippi University for Women in Jackson, Meridian, Memphis, and this coming week, Columbus. The only downside has been the hours spent in a car driving from place to place, but at least on one of these drives, I got to go along with author Deborah Johnson, and we had good conversations about writing and teaching.

One of the things I’ve learned from seeing former students is that they do go out into the world, get good jobs (even if it sometimes takes awhile). We can’t always envision what they will end up doing for work (anymore than they can when they are in college), but we have to trust them to find their way. And they do that very well.

On some of the creative writing lists I belong to, there has been a fair amount of hand-wringing lately about whether to encourage students to go on to graduate school for writing. I sympathize, and I agree that students today need more debt counseling than we did when i was just getting out of my undergraduate program. An education has become more expensive and the rewards can be more elusive. But I also am reminded that our good students will find their way. The jobs they end up in may not be the ones they expected, but they will find fulfilling careers, and they will make use of the skills their education taught them.

It’s nice to get outside the university atmosphere now and then, both to connect with the ‘real world’ and also to be reminded that the ‘real world’ and the ‘ivory tower’ aren’t as disconnected as we sometimes are led to believe.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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