Yesterday I received my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in the mail from National University. The degree was conferred on July 16, 2017, so, of course I have been waiting impatiently! My pursuit of this degree was laborious and lengthy, but absolutely worthwhile!
I thank God for opening all of the doors required and providing me the opportunity to follow my dream of earning a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry. In the Bible, James 1:7 says “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”
This journey started more than ten years ago with the Virginia Army National Guard paying for my Associates Degree. It continued when the University of South Florida Army Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program awarded me a scholarship for a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Saint Leo University. It culminated in the Florida Army National Guard providing me with tuition assistance to attend National University.
Second, I thank my loving wife Crista for supporting me throughout these past two years. Without you taking on the additional burdens around the house, I would not have been able to succeed. Thank you for your editing and encouragement. Thank you for understanding. Thank you in advance for allowing me to continue my education with a Doctor of Philosophy in English from Old Dominion University Online with my Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
I don’t have the time or the memory to thank everyone, but I would like to mention a few people with particular influences on my life.
In chronological order, I thank the late Dr. Kurt van Wilt, my professor for ENG335 Verse Writing as well as my HON499 Senior Honors Project mentor at Saint Leo University. You welcomed everyone in your classroom as equals. You opened our eyes to poetry and Native American heritage. I owe you a debt of gratitude and I will never forget you!
Also, thank you to Dr. Mark “Tiger” Edmonds, my professor for ENG202 Creative Writing I at Saint Leo University and resident of “The Redoubt.” Your travels and travel writing inspire me as well as your survival of Vietnam-era Army life. I remember most of your stories from class if not the assignments themselves. You’re a great friend and writing mentor.
Helene Ekloff and Kristin Powers. Both of you are true pen pals and poet friends. Both of you have kept me thinking and kept me writing even if we aren’t actively corresponding. Your spirits took up permanent residence in my subconscious. Thank you for your encouragement and creativity. I don’t think either of you know the profound effect you have had on me and my writing so I am telling you now.
Patricia Stevenson-Gingrich, former leader of the Big Bend Poets, former editor of the Florida State Poets Association Anthology, and current friend. Your encouragement and commentary on my poems are invaluable!
I thank Carey Millsap-Spears, MFA classmate and fellow poet. Your peer critiques were immensely helpful during class. I value your judgment and I look forward to further correspondence in workshopping poems.
Mr. Frank Montesonti, MFA, my professor for MCW645 Seminar in Poetry, MCW640B Advanced Workshop in Poetry, MCW660 Thesis I (Practicum), and MCW670 Thesis II (Revision). You enriched my knowledge of the poetic world and expanded my mind to fascinating poets and poetry I never knew existed. All of this, I might add, without Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, though Dean Young provokes similar responses.
And my final “finally,” the duende, the elf / goblin / hobgoblin / leprechaun / puck (punk) / spirit / sprite, whatever you may know it as. You are my inspiration, my little prodding writing conscience, my Phœnix. One day I will catch you.