A Dream Come True in New York City

On Sunday, August 28, “A Dream Come True in New York City,” a short film produced by WKU English’s own Dr. Jerod¬†Hollyfield premiered at the Franklin Theater in Franklin, TN.

The film stars nineteen actors from Backlight Productions, a Franklin-based theater company that features adults with disabilities. The plot follows two sisters who travel to New York City to pursue their dreams of performing on Broadway. We spoke with Dr. Hollyfield and WKU sophomore, Tori Mills, about their involvement with the film.


A collaboration between Backlight Productions and WKU, about a dozen students and alumni participated in the creation of the film. Students like Adairville sophomore Tori Mills who helped with the film will take a disabilities studies course to receive credit for their work. Mills acted as the film’s assistant director.

I was the Assistant Director, which mostly included keeping everyone on schedule,” Mills said, via email. “I was also a sort of go-between for the acting troupe’s director, Melissa Smith, and our film crew.”

Hollyfield has worked with actors with special needs in the past on his own short film, Goodfriends. He said he was initially motivated by frustration with the media and theater world for patronizing actors with disabilities without allowing them to truly exhibit their talent in starring roles. Backlight Productions has a similar mission to resist this treatment.

‚ÄúThe whole idea of the group is people that are usually ‚Äėin the backlight‚Äô are in the spotlight in this crew,‚ÄĚ Hollyfield said. ‚ÄúWhich really appealed to me because the actor that I cast in my previous short film has a disability. I went to high school with him and he would always get put in every play as the tree, or the guy who comes on in the background. Then, every single newspaper article would be about how great he was. He‚Äôs a tree. I mean, he‚Äôs awesome, but he‚Äôs a tree. Let‚Äôs let him have a part that demonstrates what he does.‚ÄĚ

In addition to having a cast that featured 19 actors with disabilities, the film was also co-written and co-directed by members of Backlight Productions.


Filming took place from May 16-25. Hollyfield said that this time crunch was the most difficult aspect of filming. A¬†typical film shoot goes through two pages of a script a day. The ‚ÄúDream Come True‚ÄĚ crew made it through eight pages on some days — a testament to their talent and devotion to this project.

‚ÄúIt was a hard shoot,” Hollyfield said. “I would say it‚Äôs probably the hardest shoot that I will ever work on, just because of the amount we had to get done and¬†the time constraints. Not necessarily because of the actors, because they were great, but logistically it was kind of a nightmare … to get all of this done so quickly.‚ÄĚ

5 days to the premiere of "A Dream Come True in New York City"! #backlightdream

A photo posted by Backlight Productions (@backlightproductions) on


The long days and short nights were worth it, Hollyfield and Mills both said. Mills described one particular day of shooting in which the crew shot a particularly emotional scene in one take. She said that scene changed the whole experience for her:

About halfway through the shoot, we filmed this scene in which the main characters, an inseparable pair of sisters, fight for the first time. Jackie Thompson, who plays one of the sisters, delivered this performance that had everyone in tears. After the first take, none of us really knew what to say for a moment. It really helped me to slow down and realize why we were there. These incredibly talented actors deserved a place in the spotlight, and they were giving us the privilege of helping them towards it.

Hollyfield and Mills said they are both optimistic about the film’s performance on this film festival circuit this coming year, as well as its positive impact on the theater world.

I would just like to reiterate how talented all of these actors are,” Mills said. “I hope this film¬†goes somewhere, and I hope it helps to provides more opportunities for actors with disabilities.”

Today is the day! Our film premiere is finally here! @visitfranklintn #backlightdream #downtownfranklin

A video posted by Backlight Productions (@backlightproductions) on


Missed the premiere? There will be a second showing of the film this Saturday, Oct. 1 at Grace Chapel in Leiper’s Fork in Franklin. Showing begins at 4:30pm with doors at 3:30pm. Tickets are $12.50 and will be sold at the door.

Hollyfield said he also hopes to have an on-campus showing in late Spring 2017 for WKU students to see after the film has hit the festival circuit. Watch this space for updates!

Special thanks to Dr. Hollyfield and Tori Mills for providing interviews for this piece. All photos from Backlight Productions on Instagram.
Cover Photo by Joshua Mellin, “State of Liberty,¬†Governor’s Ball 2016” for Noisey

Posted in Community Events, Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anne Lamott visits WKU for the Cultural Enhancement Series

What’re you doing tonight?

Clear your schedule, because tonight Tuesday Sept. 27 at 7:30 pm, Anne Lamott will be opening the 2016-2017 WKU Cultural Enhancement Series at Van Meter Hall.

Lamott is the author of 16 books such as Traveling Mercies, Operating Instructions, and (my favorite) Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Her writing varies in genre from auto-biographical nonfiction to fiction novels and often deals with such topics as alcoholism, single-motherhood, depression, and Christianity. She is known for her self-deprecating humor and unconventional views of faith [source].

To celebrate, we at First Floor Cherry have compiled a list of our favorite Anne Lammott quotes. We hope they inspire you throughout your week Рand most importantly, make you want to come out tonight to this wonderful speaker event.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This event is FREE and open to the public. Book sales will begin in the lobby at 6:30 pm.¬†Lamott’s¬†presentation will begin at 7:30 pm and be followed by a Q&A and book signing.¬†Be sure to arrive¬†early to secure your spot! It’s expected to fill up fast.

Which was your favorite quote? Did we miss your favorite Anne Lamott quote?
Comment below and let us know!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leave your mark – BOOKmark, that is

English majors, now’s your chance to leave your mark.

WKU English is accepting quote submissions for this year’s¬†bookmark! All you have to do is submit an original quote (20 words or less) that describes your major, minor, or concentration in English.

Do you feel like you’ve found your home at¬†WKU English? Has it always been your dream to teach English as a second language? Are you here¬†on a lifelong quest to rid the world of adverbs? Share it!¬†We want to hear¬†from you¬†about how the¬†WKU¬†English experience shapes your past, present, and future.

For example, maybe you’re an English Literature major, and you feel like studying literature at WKU opens your mind to explore other worlds with open curiosity, deep empathy, and a critical eye. That’s pretty cool –¬†and it’s exactly 20 words.

… Or maybe you’re a Creative Writing major, and you feel like WKU English has given you the power to shape the world around you through your words.

… Or maybe you’re even a Professional Writing major, like me! You might say that WKU English has taught you that words mean business. Every word counts, so count every word.

There are a few ways to enter:

  1. Submit your quote via Google Form.
  2. Post your quote directly on the WKU Department of English Facebook
  3. Post your quote on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #WKUEnglishBookmark.

Submissions are due on or by September 30th. Voting will take place on October 3rd.
Winner will receive English swag and have your quote published on our next bookmark – with the source cited, of course. The bragging rights are pretty cool, too.

Don’t miss your chance to leave your mark on WKU English.

VSCO Cam-1-1.jpg



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beyond the Hill: Tips from former frantic college students

Missed last week’s¬†Professional Writing Alumni Panel?

Though you missed some great reception snacks, there’s no need to worry.¬†First Floor Cherry’s senior (and only) reporter, Hannah (me),¬†was there to bring you the inside scoop on how to be a Real Adult.

In its inaugural year, the panel featured alumni of Dr. Jones’ Fall 2015 Professional Writing Capstone Class. They were:


  • Hannah Benward, currently a graduate student and assistant pursuing an MPA in¬†Political Science at WKU
  • Seth Dukes, editor of Ohio County Times-News in Hartford, Kentucky
  • Chaz Lively, professional writer at KirkpatrickPrice in Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Kellie McDermott, technical writer at Piramal Pharma Solutions in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Abby Ponder, content specialist at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky

You are probably¬†familiar with the trite assumption that English majors can’t get jobs.¬†In fact, you¬†might even remember our recent blog post about it.

Yet, just one short year ago, these brilliant professionals were in your shoes: on the cusp of graduation, lost and terrified while facing the prospect of entering the job market with an English major. Now, they are successful adults with real jobs as writers, editors and grad assistants.

So what exactly is the secret to navigating the professional world with just a lowly English degree? Are there English majors who have actual jobs? ¬†Here at First Floor Cherry, we’ve compiled a list of their 20 best tips. Read on to find the answers to these questions and more!

  1. Visit your professor’s office hours.
  2. Take advantage of the free resources offered by WKU’s Center for Career and Professional Development¬†– especially practice interviews and career counseling
  3. Look for any networking opportunities you can while in school.
  4. Dr. Jones is the bomb; use her as a resource.
  5. Resume brevity is essential Рkeep it one page or less.
  6. Confidence is everything.
  7. Take Dr. Rice’s rhetoric class.
  8. Familiarize yourself with other style guides such as AP and Chicago Style – not jut MLA.
  9. Take advantage of internship and employment opportunities on campus and within the Department such as the Writing Center, Student Publications, and English Internships.
  10. Seriously, visit office hours.
  11. When applying for positions, tailor each cover letter based on research and specific knowledge of each company or program.
  12. Bring a diverse array of writing samples to interviews for reference.
  13. Audience analysis is a skill that will translate to any work you do.
  14. Don’t take crap about being a millennial.
  15. Look for opportunities to diversify the work you do, and don’t be afraid to take on extra challenges and projects.
  16. When you’re offered a job, look for negotiation opportunities.
  17. ¬†On the other hand, don’t try to negotiate a graduate assistantship. Take it. Run.
  18. Writing well stems from being well-read.
  19. You don’t have to know everything! Companies will¬†work with you to offer specialized training pertaining to your position.
  20. Work your strengths. Employers looking to quickly fill vacant positions need you as much as you need them.

So there you have it. Life after graduation exists – and turns out it’s pretty bright.

VSCO Cam-1-2.jpg

Are you a WKU English grad? Share your own tips for success in the comments below!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Talisman now accepting art and poetry submissions

Have you heard? WKU’s very own Talisman has been transformed from an¬†award-winning yearbook¬†to a¬†website.¬†Now, they will also be publishing a free, once-a-semester magazine.

VSCO Cam-3.jpg

The vision is to produce a student lifestyle¬†magazine¬†that features the best¬†writing, photography and design the Hill has to offer. It will continue the Talisman’s legacy of high-quality journalism that represents the student voice of WKU – just¬†in a fresher, more vibrant format.

The most exciting part of this new transition is that the Talisman can expand its variety of content to include more creative art forms such as poetry and visual art.

And now, YOU can be a part of it, too!

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 1.17.20 PM.png

Just click here¬†to submit your best¬†creative work – from poetry to drawing and beyond¬†– and you could¬†be featured in the Talisman’s first ever magazine. Not only is this an opportunity to be a part of an exciting new chapter for the¬†Talisman, it’s also a great opportunity to have your work published.

That’s right, English majors, I said publication.

And if you’re looking for a great on-campus job,¬† the Talisman is always hiring. So if you want to be a part of the Talisman’s exciting new era AND get paid for doing work you love, head on over to their website to submit an application.

Posted in Publication Opportunities, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Streamlines Conference Deadline Approaching 10/5

Calling all scholars: Want to present your work at an undergraduate conference?

Well, now’s your chance.¬†The deadline to submit work for the Streamlines Undergraduate Conference is fast-approaching!

From now until Wednesday, October 5, you may submit proposals for critical essays, creative works, and panel presentations regarding the following topics:

·         Literature of the Americas
·         British Literature
·         Global Literature
·         Modern Languages
·         Linguistics
·         Creative Writing
·         Rhetoric
·         Gender Studies
·         Literacy Studies/Literacy Theory
·         Film Studies
·         Teaching Language, Literature, and Writing

Streamlines is a collaborative effort among three academic institutions in Dubuque, Iowa – Clarke University, Loras College and the University of Dubuque – to create unique opportunities for undergraduates to share scholarship and creativity.

This year’s keynote speaker is¬†Dr. Barbara Lounsberry,¬†a recently retired¬†Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa¬†who¬†has written books on literature and writing. She has also edited¬†three mystery novels set in Iowa, in addition to being¬†named UNI’s Distinguished Scholar in 1994 and Outstanding Teacher in 1998.

To be considered, visit clarke.edu/streamlines to submit a 300-word abstract of your paper or a 1.5-2 page detailed outline of your panel presentation in addition to your complete project. Papers should not be longer than 7 pages and there is a maximum of three submissions per person. Panel submissions are also encouraged. Participants will be notified of selection by Sunday, October 16, 2016.

The conference will take place at the¬†University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa on Saturday, November 5. This is an excellent opportunity to share your¬†work so we hope to see some WKU English representation at this year’s conference!

VSCO Cam-1-3.jpg

Get writing, English Toppers!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

English staff and alumni go international – without leaving town

Heads up, Hilltoppers! It’s September, which means the 27th annual Bowling Green International Festival is coming up at the end of the¬†month.

2013 BGIF by Jessica Mason - 051

What’s that? You didn’t think Bowling Green even HAD diversity? Turns out you thought wrong. Held every year on the last Saturday in September, the BG International Fest is a celebration that honors the heritage and diversity of our community. The fest¬†will feature music, dance, demonstrations, authentic foreign foods, edu-tainment activities, cultural displays, and an international bazaar.

What’s more, WKU English has quite a few representatives on the hard-working staff making the festival possible. Here they are:

  • Dr. Angela Jones, president of the board of directors is an Associate Professor of Professional Writing here in the English Department, as well as serving as¬†our¬†Internship Coordinator
  • Kimberly Nessler, vice president of the board of directors and member of the community planners is one of our English Office gurus
  • Skylar Wooden, member of the board of directors ¬†is a Dec. 2014 graduate who¬†majored in English with a Professional Writing¬†concentration and a¬†French minor. She is currently a professional writer at KirkpatrickPrice
  • Hannah Benward, member of the community planners is a May 2016 graduate who majored in English with a Professional Writing concentration and a¬†Political Science minor. She is currently a graduate student at WKU earning her Masters of Public Administration

While you’re there, be sure to pick up this year’s t-shirt by local artist Emily Harvey!


And don’t¬†forget about all the great food. To help fund the festivities, Restaurant Discount Cards will be sold for an additional $3 at the gate. Just a few of the vendors participating are¬†El Mazatlan, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, Manpuku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, Mellow Mushroom, Novo Dolce Gastro Pub, Con Con’s, and Azzip Pizza.

The event will take place from 9a.m. to 6p.m. on Saturday, September 24 at Circus Square Park¬†– that’s the one just three blocks down¬†from Fountain Square on State Street. Be sure to follow for more updates and reminders as the event nears.

Admission is $4, but you can bring yourself and a friend for just $5 by buying a Restaurant Discount Card or printing this coupon! Children 12 and under are admitted for free.
Visit the festival’s website at¬†bginternationalfest.com¬†for more information.

We’ll see¬†you there!


All images via bginternationalfest.com by Jessica Mason
Posted in Community Events | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Want to stay up-to-date on English Department happenings?

Don’t want to miss a thing from the halls of First Floor Cherry? Make sure you stay in the loop by clicking the follow button in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

Also be sure to¬†follow our Instagram @firstfloorcherry! We’ll make sure you never miss an English department event, scholarship opportunity, publication, or news update.

And as always, feel free to leave a comment on any of our posts. We love to hear your feedback!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being …

Still don’t have a copy of the¬†2016 edition of Zephyrus? Where have you been?!


In case you’re new around here¬†(or have always been kind of afraid to ask),¬†Zephyrus¬†is the WKU’s annual journal of fine arts. First published in 1969, it features the best of student¬†art, poetry and short stories – which is to say, the best¬†of the best.

I should have predicted
the fallout
that came
after you wanted more
and I did not
and I woke up
late that night

to the discordant sounds of
laughing and slapping slices of cheese
on to my window.

excerpted from “Netflix & Chill” by Josh Daniel,¬†Browning Literary Club Poetry Award Winner
Find out what that’s all about in the 2016¬†

Did you also know that the journal’s name comes from Zephyrus, Greek god¬†of the west wind? He’s said to be a “handsome, winged youth.” Here he is with his wife, Chloris:


“Flore et Z√©phyr”, oil painting by¬†William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1875


Past¬†issues of Zephyrus¬†tracing back to 1969 can be found on the English Department Publications Page¬†– just¬†if you’re ever curious about what WKU students of the 70’s and 80’s had on their poetic consciousness.¬†You can also browse First Floor Cherry’s collection of¬†Zephyrus Flashbacks¬†from last year.
Spoiler: those students were not writing about Netflix and Chill.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up your free copy of the 2016 Zephyrus in the English Office. You know where to find us.


p.s. bonus points if you recognize the Percy Shelley quote in the title!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So… what are you going to do with an English major?

At this point, the question is so familiar, I often catch myself laughing in response, assuming the person posing the question is only joking. But no. More often than not, the question is genuine.

Fret not, fellow English majors! Here at the WKU English Department, we understand your frustration.

That’s why we’ve launched a new suite of webpages called Why English?¬†where you can find¬†plenty¬†of information to bolster your defense¬†next time Great Aunt Linda corners you at the family Christmas party.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 3.27.19 PM.png

But seriously, it’s a wealth of information for current and prospective students about¬†the advantages of being an English major – especially at WKU.

Check out the Why WKU English? page to learn about publishing opportunities, internships, our outstanding alumni, and much more. The English After WKU? page has all you need to know about the abundance of post-graduate opportunities available to English majors. Read about famous English majors in career fields as diverse as technology, business, design, and beyond, or how English majors make well-rounded graduate, medical, or law school candidates.

Still not convinced WKU is the best place in the world to study English? View the video produced by our very own Drs. Jerod Hollyfield and Judith Szerdahelyi below:

Why English @ WKU? from Jerod Hollyfield on Vimeo.

So, Aunt Linda, the real question is what can’t you do with an English major?

Disclaimer: All of my aunts are actually really great. No real aunts were harmed or insulted in the writing of this post.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment