by Diamond Forde

alumna-reflects16I am currently taking an MFA workshop on poetic form. In this course, we have complicated (and sometimes convoluted) discussions on lyric and genre theory. This class contains an assortment of writers, many well beyond me in terms of their poetic achievements. Some with massive amounts of publications. Some with chapbooks. Some fresh from nationwide book tours. I’m taking a course with advanced writers with advanced writing careers, and somehow I’m still able to hold my own in discussion with them. I have UWG to thank for that.

Look, we all know the scholarly aspect of West Georgia is great. I took some solid workshops with some knowledgeable professors, and I’m constantly using the skills they taught me—no lie. But if I’m going to be completely honest with you, it was the experiences outside of the classroom that ended up meaning the most.

alumna-reflects-poem16First off, I have friends from UWG who I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I know it’s cheesy, but I never would have met these amazing people without the creative writing community at West Georgia. I know some of you are like, friends? That’s her big advice? But trust me, those friendships and their gentle pushes become vital when you’re trying to pursue a writing career. Despite whatever untruths we have come to accept about writers and their lifestyles, let me be the first to tell you that sometimes, writing will lead you to an existential crisis. It’ll wake you up at 5 a.m., tell you you’re not writing enough, and all you really want is to get through your morning coffee. But the friends I found at West Georgia have been invaluable in helping me through those moments. They support me (and we have some healthy competition with one another too).

These same people were beside me for the biggest achievements I had at West Georgia. I studied abroad in Italy, twice. I ate gelato on the aqueduct, gave a poet a tour of Rome, and had a pretty dope conversation with a Moroccan street merchant—all because of the study abroad program at UWG. I held both the managing editor and lead editor position on the award winning literary journal, Eclectic. I workshopped and networked with well-established writers brought to the university. I traveled to workshops outside of the state, one of which—the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets—is considered the most prestigious workshop of its kind. If I didn’t have the resources and faculty that I did at UWG, I wouldn’t have known about any of those opportunities. Hands down, West Georgia is rocking it.

I’m serious—take advantage of West Georgia. Travel, make friends, take risks. Without UWG, its friendships and resources, I wouldn’t have had the bravery I do now—and that makes all the difference.

Diamond Forde is a UWG alumna who is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama.

Posted on January 1, 2016