Auspicious Beginnings

Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2015 by William Davis under Community Engagement, Events, Graduate Alumni. Tags: ,

Student Perspective
Michelle Rosquillo

040815Feature_AnselElkinsLast night marked the inaugural reading of the annual Visiting Writers Series, put on by the MFA Creative Writing Program, the English Department, and a slew of sponsors whose aim is simple: Share good writing. I have been to several of these readings in the last couple of years, all of them worth attending, but I was particularly excited to hear Ansel Elkins share her work.

Allow me to geek out for a moment: Ansel graduated from the UNCG MFA program in poetry in 2009 and immediately went on to gather accolades for her writing. Not only has she been published in various journals, magazines, and collections, she has received prestigious fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the American Antiquarian Society. Oh, and she won the “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. The woman has mad skills.

At yesterday’s reading from her first book, Blue Yodel (which won the very impressive Yale Younger Poets Prize–didn’t I mention?), Ansel proved that, at the heart of things, she loves what she does. She read with sincerity and poise, her eyes on her audience and her chin uplifted as she gave voice to a range of female speakers embracing their innate sensuality, wildness, strength, and vulnerability. The poem “Ghost at My Door” took on the haunted grief of a mother whose child goes missing; “Real Housewives” was a humorous and biting depiction of female rivalry; “The Girl With Antlers” shook the audience with its majestic assertion of power and beauty.

Ansel herself, when not captivating her audience with her poems, proved bright, cheerful, and excited to return her old stomping grounds at UNCG, where, as she noted, she began her career as a writer. She joins the MFA program this year as a visiting assistant professor, completing a cycle of engagement with the UNCG writing community that highlights not just how immersive and impactful the culture at this school is, but also how supportive and successful its graduate degree programs can be.