Tonight is the last in a series of reading events sponsored by the CSU Creative Writing program.
Three M.F.A. students will showcase a culmination of their work from the past five semesters. Third-year graduate students Stacy Burns, Allison Mackin and Dana Masden will be reading their fiction and poetry in the Hatton Gallery starting at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Burns is originally from a pastoral area of Kansas near Manhattan, and received a B.A. in English from Kansas State University. At tonight’s event, Burns has decided to read from the first story she started at CSU, which has been highly modified.
“A lot of what I wrote has been tossed out because it was crap but I kept returning back to it,” said Burns.
Her family, Burns said, raised her in a highly religious environment. This experience has aided Burns in her writing, she said, as uses her background to manifest characters. For example, her selected fiction story follows a recovering drug addict who attempts to approach God as a catalyst to recovery. The result, however, leaves her feeling that she is experiencing just “a shell of religion.”
Burns has fiction published in “Windhover” out of Texas and “Alligator Juniper” out of Arizona.
This semester, Burns has been busy with teaching two courses of her own as a graduate teaching assistant. However, Burns feels that time away from a classroom is just what she needs.
“Part of me needs to get out of the academic setting for awhile,” she said.
Mackin, who is originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has already obtained two bachelor’s degrees from Drake University. Her next move was to Iowa State University, where Mackin received her master’s degree in English. A passion for study and a hope to teach one day planted her at CSU’s graduate Creative Writing program.
Although, she says, her direction in career has veered towards literary publishing. Mackin currently works at the Colorado Review and the CSU Writing Center. Tonight at the Hatton Gallery, Mackin will be reading poems that fit into her graduate thesis project.
“It seems like poetry is tending to be more about an idea. For me, it’s dealing with collecting and collections; like museums and auctions,” said Mackin. “But I want to deal with various things, I do not want tunnel vision.”
Fiction writer Masden originates from Chicago, Illinois, and studied at Miami University of Ohio before following her sister to Colorado. Her productive academic experience at CSU is largely credited to advisor Steven Schwartz. Schwartz is a really good reader, Masden says, and quickly picks up what a writer is trying to do; his perception and guidance is what a student can benefit from most.
For Masden, manifesting a story is much like sketching; one starts with an idea, adds the details over time with color and shades. By the end, the finished product is completely different.
“I always wanted to be a writer and that was really scary for me as an undergraduate,” said Masden.
Masden has been published in “Santa Clara Review” of California. Also, Masden will be teaching an undergraduate course in creative writing this spring to complete her graduate study.
Staff writer Griffin Faust can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.