Video Credit: GEOSet, Natalia Lopez, and Enrique Toledo
I didn't feel like my education was over when I completed my MFA at Arizona State University; Florida State University had a great reputation for creative writing at the PhD level, and I was also attracted to the program because of its large size. I really wanted to establish community with other talented writers, make lifelong friendships, and take advantage of FSU's southeastern locale.
Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
The prospect of earning a PhD was its own motivation. No one in my immediate family has that distinction, and everyone supported me in getting one. I love being a student, and I love being a writer. Graduate school encourages both of those things.
Importance and impact of research
All of my research supports my work as a poet, which means it changes depending on what I'm working on at the time. In the past that has meant researching blackness, southernness, childhood, allegory, epistolary traditions, masculinity, fraternity, Christianity, sexuality, empathy, transformation, and countless other things. Most recently, I've been researching friendship and family and space. All are vastly human themes at wondrous and challenging intersections. All of my work as a poet is a rigorous examination of the world and what humans can be at their best despite all the times where we fall short or lose sight of that aspiration. Anyone who isn't invested in those things is probably just not invested. It's vital work at a scary time, and I feel everyone can benefit from such examinations of themselves and their worlds.
Advice for prospective graduate students
It is easy to get caught up in the idea that graduate school is a means to an end or a means of establishing the credentials necessary to getting the job you want. If you can help it, try to enjoy the time and space that graduate school affords. Don't rush through it!
Accomplishments during graduate career
I'm most proud of the two poetry collections I've released to date: Millennial Roost (C&R Press, 2018) and A Family Is a House (C&R Press, 2019). Millennial Roost & A Family is a House. I'm also a McKnight Doctoral Fellow
My career aspirations include exhausting my art and myself and helping others to do the same. I want to push my art as far as it can possibly go toward doing the most amount of good it can possibly do.