On Thursday, April 26th, following the daytime of events of the English Department's first annual Spring Homecoming, the 2018 MFA Graduation took place in the beautiful Milano Room in WVU's Downtown Library. The group of seven graduates—Nat Updike (fiction), Natalie Homer (poetry), Jake Maynard (fiction), Maggie Montague (nonfiction), Meredith Jeffers (nonfiction), Kat Saunders (nonfiction), and Bryce Berkowitz (poetry).
Bryce Berkowitz shared poems of place that were rich in vibrant imagery and carefully indulged in nostalgia. He ended his reading with a poem made entirely of quotes collected over the years from Mary Ann Samyn. The poem was both humorous and emotional, and ultimately a beautiful way to honor his thesis advisor and mentor.
Natalie Homer is a poet whose work is not only lyrical in its beauty, but contains a specific kind of magic that only Homer is able to conjure. She joked about being "undeserving" of a spot in WVU's MFA, and went on to express immense gratitude for her time in the program.
Meredith Jeffers read from her thesis, Nobody Laughed But Me, which is a collection of nonfiction essays about girlhood and growing up in upstate New York. Jeffers's work has an attitude all on its own, and emitted both laughs and gasps from the audience.
Jake Maynard is a musician and fiction writer who is adept at using place to tell a compelling story. His writing is rooted in reality, but elevated by careful craft.
A native of California, Maggie Montague read part of a longer essay about being forced to evacuate her home in the midst of a wildfire. The piece painted a beautiful picture of Southern California, right down to the way ash fell like rain.
Kat Saunders's work is unmistakable—the narrators in her nonfiction essays are strong, snarky, and unapologetic. The speaker knows exactly who she is, and the reader can't help but root for her. Saunders's thesis is a collection of essays about Wadsworth, Ohio, and the love-hate relationship she has with her hometown.
Nat Updike read from her thesis, Ride, which takes its name from a song about the desire and struggle for ultimate freedom—in whatever form it may take. Updike's thesis shares this sentiment; the novel is about several different characters from all walks of life who each share the same goal: to be free of the things that burden them.
Congratulations to the 2018 MFA Graduating Class! We'll miss you!