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Awards Day Award Recipients

Undergrad Conference Participants

Alumni Update: Matt Sherling


Course Descriptions

Spring 2011

Matt Sherling Credits UWG English Professors for Getting Him to CA


different ideas of cool.) Years later, after my apartment in Carrollton looked more like a library than a living-space, Dr. Fraser, in his Studies in Genre: Poetry course, told me, look through rather than beyond, as he ran around the room in a frenzy, unable to contain his contagious passion for language and its baffling imaginative capacities. Now look at me—literally last night I missed a bus in the city and hiked three miles to catch a Bob Hicok reading on West Portal Street. (Please, check him out if you haven’t. I’m still trying to decide if he’s human. . .I’m talking about Greg. I mean Bob. I mean Greg…Oh, the power of poetry).

I’m entirely grateful for the UWG English department, honestly, because not only is it made up of professors who have amounts of knowledge that make the top of my head pop off, they genuinely care about their students. Like, really care. They will meet with you often, even off campus, to provide extended help or advice. Figures like Dr. Davidson—who Travis Denton, in an email, once referred to as “the busiest man in poetry”—always go the extra mile, getting Pulitzer-Prize winners to come to campus. Or Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Masters, offering their home for department parties in order to generate a culture within the program. It’s amazing, really, and it seems to me exceptionally unique to find so much kindness and brilliance all in one place. Without my training at UWG, I wouldn’t be here in San Francisco, wouldn’t be writing this, wouldn’t know how to talk about literature effectively, to know how much transformation can happen in a classroom.

And now—well, now, I’m gonna take the train to go check out the Poetry Center at SF State, maybe listen to the first audio recording they ever put together: Theodore Roethke reading in San Francisco, circa 1954! I’ll close with a quotation from Alan Watts: “You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes.”

Matt Sherling

As you may or may not have heard, I’m now in California to attend San Francisco State University as an MFA student. Clearing out of Georgia’s stout humidity and arriving here in August, I felt like I’d been holding my breath all summer. But I couldn’t see! The first week I thought the Golden Gate had vanished; it was hiding under a blanket of fog. They have late summers here, however, so for the most part the temperature’s delightful, depending on which pocket you’re in around the Bay. The weather alters considerably in terms of your proximity to the sea. Downtown, bring a coat. San Jose, why not wear shorts—it’s usually transparently sunny. Berkeley, rock what you want, comfortably.

And the latter’s where I’ve found my nook. I stay in a sixty-year-old home, down in the basement. My landlord, who also lives in the house, moved here in the '60s and never left. She has a handful of degrees, from Psychology to Physics. As they say here in California, she’s hella smart. The rest of my random six roommates range from a blind Buddhist monk who I think knows magic (in this creaky house, I turn around from washing dishes and she’s appeared out of thin air—“Hello, Matt.”) to a dude getting his Ph.D. in Botany. I walk around with him while he takes pictures for class, and he identifies for me all the foliage wrapping around the fences. To say the least, my dwelling’s writer-conducive.

And without my six beautiful years at West Georgia, I may not have even taken advantage of that. You know, I was undecided until I took Dr. Masters for English 1102 fall of my second year. Never had I even considered being an English major. We read, among other works, James Baldwin short stories and Russell Banks’s novel Rule of the Bone. I realized, Wow, there are actually books out there that are. . .well, a lot cooler than the Stuart Woods on my dad’s bookshelf. (No offense, Dad—we just have two