Mammoth Cave Writers Conference 2016

Attention all authors, writers, poets and readers! Luckily, that covers just about everyone reading this blog, so you’ll want to listen up.

The Mammoth Cave Writers Conference is coming up on Saturday, November 12 at the Mammoth Cave National Park Hotel.

The all day event will feature prominent writers in sessions on writing about Mammoth Cave. The formats of the conference’s work will vary from articles, poems, papers, articles, and books. Genres featured will include history, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

It’s a unique opportunity to learn about the history of Mammoth Cave firsthand. Who knows, maybe you’ll even come away with some inspiration of your own? The website says to be prepared to participate.


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While you’re there, be sure to check out Mammoth Cave’s incredible hiking trails.

The Writers Conference is held in conjunction with Roots in the Cave, a conference focused on the families of the Mammoth Cave region and their history. The Roots theme this year is the historic Archibald Miller family. I wasn’t able to find much about them on the ol’ Interweb, but I’m sure they’re a fascinating bunch.

All in all, sounds like a great day of writing, history, and soaking up some Kentucky culture in one of the most beautiful places Kentucky has to offer. Maybe it’ll even prepare you for WKU’s own Undergraduate Conference on November 18th.

If interested, please visit their website for more information.

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Hidden Treasures of the English Club Book Sale

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Being a lover of cheap, strange books, I jumped at the opportunity to visit the English Department’s semiannual book sale. Needless to say, the sale did not disappoint. Here are some of my best finds.

I walked into the beautiful Robert Penn Warren Room of Cherry Hall with a coffee in my hand and a sense of optimism that this was just the thing to brighten up my dreary Wednesday. I was greeted by the room’s golden chandelier lighting and stacks of books of every genre — all promising to cost just $1 or less.

“If anything in the Vintage Media category strikes your fancy, I am willing to negotiate,” the student working the checkout table said.

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A cassette tape from 1994 promising to reveal “The Dickens Nobody Knows” did catch my eye. Who knows what secrets Professor Elliot Engel was waiting to reveal to me,  “described and illuminated with great wit”? Though intrigued, I decided to decline — perhaps deterred by the not one, but TWO, Bill Cosby DVD’s featured in the same section.

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Perhaps that was why she was so eager to bargain. Despite this off-putting sight, I was impressed by the section’s collection of 90s CDs, including Switchfoot’s hit 2000 album, Learning to Breathe. Upon first glance, I assumed the CD was a bootleg burned onto a blank disc, but I guess that’s just what the case was like.

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Next, in the Fiction section, a mystery novel called Murder is Relative by Karen Saum caught my eye. I was struck by the novel’s unassuming cover art in juxtaposition with its quite alarming title. I don’t know if murder is relative, Karen … it seems like a rather fixed concept. After a bit of ethical contemplation, I decided to pass on this one.

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In the Romance section, A Nanny Named Nick by Miranda Lee caught my eye, perhaps because the cover looks a lot like The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. I appreciated the alliteration of the book’s title and its bold challenge to traditional gender norms — a political statement I imagine is quite rare in the romance genre.

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What’s this?! A biography of my favorite recording artist of all time, British music legend David Bowie? I jumped for joy. What a lucky find!

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Nope — even better. A historical novel about the life and times of Jim Bowie, American pioneer and folk hero who played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution. Turns out, he was born just West of Bowling Green in Logan County, Kentucky. Looks like I found a new hero.

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Without a doubt, this 90s-tastic book about Cootie Catchers was my find of the day. What’s a Cootie Catcher, you ask?

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THIS is a cootie catcher! They’re those foldable fortune telling games you might remember from grade school. How else would you find out who has a crush on you, or if you’ll live in a Mansion, Apartment, Shack, or House? Don’t worry, this book’s got you.

Either way, I left the book sale feeling like a winner.

Thanks to the English Club for hosting such a great book sale! We look forward to the next one. Be sure to subscribe to email updates and follow us on Instagram to stay up-to-date on more English Club happenings.

If you’d like to get involved with English Club, please contact

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2016 Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture

Have you ever wondered what professors do in their spare time? Well, we’re not quite sure. One thing we know for sure they do? Attend academic conferences.

More than just a blessed excuse for professors to occasionally cancel class, academic conferences provide academics with an opportunity to exchange their ideas and research in a public forum.

You can see what it’s like for yourself by participating in the 16th annual Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture.

The conference, hosted by the WKU English Department, celebrates the best of undergraduate student work from the past year and provides students with the unique opportunity to present their work in a forum of their peers, faculty, and the public.

Students are invited to submit a short (4-6 page) version of any paper they’ve written for a WKU English class anytime from last October to now. Graduate students in the English M.A. program evaluate the submissions and select up to fifteen participants.

Submissions are due on October 28 at 4:30pm to the English Office, CH 135.
Cover sheet and additional guidelines are available in the English Office.

At the conference, which will be held in Cherry Hall 125 on Friday, Nov. 18, students will read their papers as part of panels organized around similar themes.

The Undergraduate Conference is the only chance that English students at WKU have to share their analytical work in a public forum. It’s also an opportunity to experience a real conference, similar to what you may experience in graduate school or as a professional. It’s also a great opportunity to interact with other English majors and, of course, brush up on those public speaking skills.

Good luck!

Contact Dr. Ted Hovet or Dr. Christopher Lewis at with any questions.

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Ready to Fall in Love with Potter College?

Fall break is over, and end of the semester panic is starting to set in.
You’re still jet lagged from that impulsive fall break getaway to New York, but now you have to worry about your C in English 300, too.

No worries — Potter College is here to save you from the mid-semester blues.


The 2016 Potter College Fall Festival is TOMORROW!



Did someone say pumpkins and caramel apples? Stop by the Colonnade from 1pm – 4pm for free food & t-shirts, music, and more!

Visit the English Department’s booth to snap a few photos at our fun fall photo booth where you can live out your tragic American dreams as Daisy from The Great Gatsby or give your spookiest Abigail Williams impression from “The Crucible.”

Tag us in all your best photo booth snaps on Instagram @firstfloorcherry for your chance to win an English Department coffee travel mug!

The stage performance line-up runs throughout the entirety of the festival and features WKU’s best jump ropers, singers, musicians, dancers, and MORE!


The free t-shirts and pumpkins go fast so don’t wait! And be sure to tag your posts with #PCALFallFest so we can all live vicariously through your beautiful photos.

For more info, visit the Fall Fest event page.

We’ll see you there!

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Magnet Poetry: Fall Break edition

This week, my roommate and I got into an argument over our utilities bill.

When I arrived home from class on Monday, she had lovingly rearranged the alphabet magnets on our refrigerator into insults.

In hopes to ease the tension, I rearranged her letters to reflect a gentler sentiment: “ur my bae.” Then, below it, I added another message bearing the word “corndog” – accompanied by a magnet of an ear of corn for good measure. If that bit of comedic genius doesn’t do the trick, I don’t know what will.

My point is, poetry is everywhere.

On my refrigerator, in bathroom stalls, and even on the second floor of Cherry Hall, home to the WKU History Department. That’s right, First Floor Cherry is transcending the first floor. And turns out, it’s a wild world up there.

Second Floor Cherry (a name I just coined) is home to a white board that boasts an impressive collective of magnetic poetry. We ventured up the stairs to check it out for ourselves, and snap some photos of our favorites that reflected the minds and moods of WKU students headed into fall break.


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It’s Monday before fall break. How will you make it through the next few days?
Your brain is operating at such a slow pace, you can almost feel it rusting.

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 You have one last paper to write. You decide to grab another black coffee.
Like many stress coping mechanisms, it’s almost a sound solution.

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Your paper isn’t great. Well, to be frank, it’s total crap.
Crap paper but always – always what? Always finish anyway?
Maybe not if you can’t even finish this sentence.

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Ooooh spooky. College is a scary time for us all – and not just in October.
Keep your head up. We know you’ll make it through.

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Finally some resolution! You did it.
You crapped your paper out just in time for that 11:59 pm deadline.

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Now that your paper is finished, what better time for some embroidery?
It’s time to grab your needle and cry while stitching out your inner turmoil.

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It’s Wednesday, and you’ve made it to your last day of classes! That means it’s almost time to head off on whatever fall break adventures await you.
You’ll be outta here faster than anyone can catch you. We won’t even try.


From roommate problems to fall break blues, there’s not much poetry can’t fix.
Wishing you a happy, safe, and restful fall break from First Floor Cherry.

See you next week!

If you see some accidental poetry around the halls of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Floor Cherry, send it to us at

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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.

“The whole idea of the group is people that are usually ‘in the backlight’ are in the spotlight in this crew,” Hollyfield said. “Which 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’s a tree. I mean, he’s awesome, but he’s a tree. Let’s let him have a part that demonstrates what he does.”

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 “Dream Come True” crew made it through eight pages on some days — a testament to their talent and devotion to this project.

“It was a hard shoot,” Hollyfield said. “I would say it’s 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.”

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

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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 – and most importantly, make you want to come out tonight to this wonderful speaker event.

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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!

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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.

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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 – keep 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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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