Creative Writing at WVU: Wild, Wonderful Writing

Alumni Spotlight:

Interview with Molly Brodack

Molly Brodack

What education have you received?

I have a BA in English from Oakland University and an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from WVU.

What kinds of writing are you doing right now?

I’m always working on writing I think I can’t do. So, I’m trying to write a long poem, and I’m challenging myself to recognize patterns in my writing and change them—for example, I have a habit of ending poems in the same way, sometimes even with the same sentence structure. I’m trying to push past my typical instinct.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

Well, certainly winning the Iowa Poetry Prize was a great accomplishment. What was really significant to me about winning this prize was that Mary Ruefle was the judge who chose my manuscript, and she is one of my favorite poets. Publishing a poem or a collection of poems is wonderful but what I really consider great accomplishments are the little breakthroughs I make for myself as a writer, which no one will ever really see but me. Those matter more than publication or recognition.

Looking back, what was the best thing about the WVU creative writing program?

One of the best things about the program was that third year. I know a lot of other MFAs now who went to 2 year programs, and their experiences were much more hurried than mine. The third year allowed me to really think about my thesis as a book, rather than just a requirement for graduating, and I’m really grateful for that. It also helped transition me from teaching and going to classes to just teaching and writing independently, so leaving school and starting my first real teaching job was easier.

What is your fondest memory of WVU?

The discussions we had in Professor Ernest’s and Professor Allen’s classes. They were life-changing. I kept most of my notes, papers and handouts from their classes (and many of my other WVU profs) and I look over them sometimes for ideas and inspiration.

What advice would you give to a future student?

I would say to a student about to enter the creative writing program at WVU to be open, independent, and hold back nothing. Some people go in thinking they’ve already found their voice/subject/everything, and go into workshop like it’s going to just be the praise-bath they’ve always hoped for. But ossifying the creative formulas you already have is not the point. Really what is most constructive is to go towards the most uncomfortable topics, ideas, forms, and experiements, because that’s the hardest work to do, and grad school is the best time you’ll have to do it.