By Gina Elbert
On the night of May 4, the English Department came together to celebrate the achievements of the first class of Creative Writing Track students. The 13 juniors and seniors who read at the event had just finished a semester-long capstone project workshop, led by faculty coordinator and colloquium instructor Prof. Nicholas Boggs. Over the course of the spring semester, students worked with faculty advisors who helped them write, shape, and edit creative pieces of their own making. This capstone workshop was the final step in a new four-class track offered by the English Department, which also required students to take “Reading as a Writer” and at least two workshops offered by the Creative Writing Program (students are encouraged to complete a minor in the Creative Writing Program as the ideal preparation for the capstone experience).
Following an introduction by Prof. Boggs, the students read from their capstone projects before a standing-room only crowd that spilled out of the department’s Event Space into an adjoining hallway at 244 Greene Street. Each excerpt was moving and personal: works included poetry about the intersection of race and mental health, an imagined analytical dialogue about rap music, and a novel-in-progress that one student had been working on for more than a year. A list of the student readers and their projects can be found below.
The event concluded with an address by Prof. Jess Row, a fiction writer and visiting professor in the English Department. He praised the students for their hard work, reminding them that they always have a support network here in the department. He looked forward to the day when these creative works would reach a wider world and he and Prof. Boggs could go on the “old people’s social network” of the future to rave about their former students. He then read a piece of his own, “Summer Song,” which was published in Tin House in 2012, before releasing the satisfied audience to relish refreshments and discuss the students’ works.
The capstone projects and reading were hailed as a great success by faculty and students. After the event, Prof. Boggs said, “This was a thrilling event. Each and every student gave a moving reading, and the sense of community and excitement was palpable in the room. I’m exceedingly proud of these students. And Jess Row’s enthusiasm and contribution to the track this year has been an essential component of its success. We look forward to building on this momentum next year as an undergraduate program.” Capstone student Elizabeth de Leon, who worked with Prof. Sonya Postmentier on her project, added, “For me, this experience has truly clarified what my writing is about, where it is going, and what it takes to produce a piece of work that I am truly proud of.” She continued, “My advisor was a great guide who helped me work on the logistics of putting together an ensemble of work, while my workshop group really provided an insightful eye and kindness that helped nurture every line of my poems. I know when I leave NYU this is an experience and an accomplishment that I will carry with me as I move on.”
Congratulations to the 13 students who participated in the capstone project, to Prof. Boggs for guiding them through this new adventure, to all the faculty advisors who helped on the projects, and to Mary Mezzano, assistant to the undergraduate program, for her logistical support.
2016-2017 Creative Writing Capstone Projects
Edwin Chen, In the Realm of the Spirit (advisor: Prof. Simón Trujillo)
Elizabeth de Leon, It Comes in Waves but Settles Like the Ocean (advisor: Prof. Sonya Postmentier)
Danny Garcia, Solastalgia (advisor: Prof. Jess Row)
Annesha Sengupta, Ma Baba (advisor: Prof. Nicholas Boggs)
Jae Lee, Devotionals (advisor: Prof. Lytle Shaw)
Mary Liu, How to Say Thank You (advisor: Prof. Dara Regaignon)
Bridget Schneider, Home Again (advisor: Prof. Josephine Hendon)
Shivon Shah, Shortcomings (advisor: Prof. Elaine Freedgood)
David Sobalvarro, Even the Young Are Killing Each Other (advisor: Prof. Nicholas Boggs)
Thomas Twardzik, And I Feel Fine (advisor: Prof. Patrick Deer)
Michael Waller, The Cheapening of Experience (advisor: Prof. Jess Row)
Caroline Weeks, Earthly Monsters (advisor: Prof. Gregory Vargo)
Porter Yelton, One of a Billion Insensible Stars (advisor: Prof. Thomas Augst)