Senior | Denver, CO
What made you decide to become an English major?
I didn’t have any idea as to what I wanted to major in when I got to NYU. New York City simply let out a clarion call, and I decided to follow it. But I had a really great Writing I professor in Liberal Studies, Marie Buck, who both inspired me to pursue writing and introduced me to the Creative Writing Concentration within the English Major. It’s crazy the extent to which one professor impacted my academic trajectory!
What has been your favorite class in the English department thus far, and why?
My favorite class was the Master Class in Poetry that I took with Anne Carson. I mean, I got to learn from one of my literary heroes—which was both surreal and invaluable. Her class was pedagogically (not to sound too Greek) different from any class that I’ve ever taken. But I remember, most distinctly, the privilege of being able to sit there while she translated bits of Sophocles for us into English from the original Greek texts. I learned a lot about translation, indeterminacy, and what is lost in this business of language.
What has been the most influential work of literature in your journey as a writer thus far, and why?
It’s almost impossible to pick one, but The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams has maybe been the most influential novel in my journey as a writer thus far. Williams was introduced to me by Professor Elliott Holt in Reading as a Writer. Professor Holt is uncannily good at introducing students to writers. She assigned us this one story called “Honored Guest” by Williams, and we talked about it at length in class and in office hours. Then I went on to read most of Williams’ work. Her oeuvre (which is still growing) is both utterly unique and somehow deeply familiar. I aspire to that kind of writing, that kind of voice.
You are in the process of completing the Creative Writing Concentration in the major. How has your experience been so far?
My experience has been great so far. I’ve cultivated some amazing relationships with several of my professors, and each day I get to learn more and more about the craft and the tradition of writing in the English language. It has been a lot of work. But it has also been such a wonderful opportunity to get to expand and grow as a writer under some of the most caring professors out there.
Can you tell us a bit about your Creative Writing Capstone project?
It’s a short story. I’m loosely basing it off a quote by James Baldwin: “A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.” This quote is not in my piece explicitly, but I used it as an initial guide in my work. The story broadly revolves around the instability of marriage as a bond, an expectation, a compulsion. It involves the relationship(s) between two gay men and one of their mothers. They are sort of weighing their ambivalences toward marriage, and it’s a lot about what they’ve inherited from society, parents, friends, etc.
What do you consider the most rewarding part of being an English major?
I get to read and write while calling it “homework.”
What advice would you give to students considering majoring in English at NYU?
Get to know your professors. Get to know your professors. Get to know your professors. It’s a very difficult time to be a student. There’s a lot happening in the world every day. One thing that got me through it was the genuine mentorship I found in several of my professors, so I really can’t say it enough. Get to know them. They want to see you succeed.