Pulitzer Winners Announced

In case you don’t know what to read this weekend while you loaf in your hammock, we are here to share that 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners have been announced.

From reporting to feature writing to all our most well-known genres, the list of winners covers several types of writing we English majors may end up creating ourselves.


Not sure what the Pulitzer Prize actually is?

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the US. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Hungarian-born American Joseph Pulitzer who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher. The award is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories.

Here are a few select winners:


The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

Image result for The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

For a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.


Olio, by Tyehimba Jess (Wave Books)

Image result for Olio, by Tyehimba Jess (Wave Books)

For a distinctive work that melds performance art with the deeper art of poetry to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity.

General Nonfiction

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond (Crown)

Image result for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond (Crown)

For a deeply researched exposé that showed how mass evictions after the 2008 economic crash were less a consequence than a cause of poverty.

Find your inspiration for that next paper or simply the how to spend a few hours this weekend on the list of Pulitzer Prize winners. Don’t forget to check out finalists too!

Happy (happy?) weekend reading FirstFloorCherrians!

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Submission Opportunity


Do you have a concern or passion for nature? Do you have a review on the industrial system? Chances are, if you do, it shows through in at least one or two of your written works. If this is the case, you could win $200 dollars and a shiny new line on your resume by submitting to win the Allen Miller Memorial Award for Writing on the Environment.

This award is established to ensure that writing on the environment will be honored at Western Kentucky University, and it will keep alive the memory of Alan Miller and his outstanding contributions to WKU.

Last year, when I heard about this award, I thought “I haven’t written about the environment lately” and shrugged it off. Finally, after further encouragement just before the deadline, I looked through my works and did in fact find that one of my papers met the (somewhat loose) criteria for submission. I submitted, and I won!

Now, I hope to be your encouragement to look through your archives and find out if anything you’ve written meets any one of these criteria in some way:

  • Emphasizes environmental issues
  • Exposes the presence of human beings and their role/impact in nature
  • Supports agrarianism—promoting rural societies, the support of agricultural groups, and the significance of the farmer
  • Addresses the current state of the environment and how it can be improved, be it locally, nationally, or globally
  • Discusses the relationships that exist in conservation and spirituality in the human/non-human world
  • Offers a criticism of pro-industrial development and the damage of nature
  • Promotes strategies in maintaining environmental sustainability

View the full flyer for more.

Found something that works? Great! Submit it in CH 135 before or on April 14, 2017.

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Choosing Courses Just Got Easier

Registration is coming April 10th and that means waking up very early to get the classes we want. Unless we want to make some big decisions while still half asleep, we have to decide now which classes to take in the fall.

Don’t worry, research on the matter doesn’t have to be as intimidating as Henry Hardin:

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For instance, we at First Floor Cherry have discovered that there is a brand new class available in the fall taught by Dr. Jerod Hollyfield. The course, called Postcolonial Studies, promises to be worthwhile. From the syllabus:

“Given WKU’s focus on international reach and the increased importance of understanding the globalized economy and culture, a Postcolonial Studies course is a vital addition to our department’s already dynamic curriculum. Postcolonial Studies is an ideal framework to understanding many of the issues that are most pressing in the world today from the Israeli/Palestine conflict and War on Terror to immigration and Puerto Rican statehood. One of the primary teaching challenges I’ve faced in recent years is the rising popularity of internet literary theory, those “ism” words that are often part of cultural conversations but usually misused and misunderstood. Courses like this new offering will open opportunities for students to really grapple with these complicated concepts and apply them to their own identities.”

Whether you want to sharpen your cultural awareness in Postcolonial Studies or pick up that needed survey course, the English department has you covered.

Stop by CH 135 to pick up the Selected English Department Course Descriptions booklet or view a copy now. Selected, of course, means that not all classes are included in the booklet, but if you want additional information on an upper-level course before taking the plunge, chances are it’s in there.

Good luck with registration FirstFloorCherry-ans!



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Come to the PW Club Meeting!

pw_clubThe second monthly meeting of the Professional Writing Club will take place next week on Tuesday, March 28th at 4:30 p.m. in Cherry Hall 124.

Come and get some pointers on how to prepare for job searches, from the very beginning search all the way through to the interview process.  You can also learn how to make that resume immaculate, which is a huge bonus.


(So this is a win-win if you ask me.)


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Spring means Goldenrod!

Goldenrod– more than an allergy-inducing plant or the state flower of Kentucky– is also the English Club’s yearly poetry festival. Goldenrod is a chance for you to show off your stuff and to learn from other poets.

Goldenrod 2016 Finalists

2016 Finalists

All students are welcome to submit their own original works of poetry. The top ten poets participate in a private workshop with a visiting poet, who also gives a reading during the Festival.

Last year’s poet was Gary McDowell, who we conducted a full-length interview with.

The year before that, the visiting poet was Silas House who was present via Skype.

goldenrod (2)

Students may submit up to five poems of no more than 150 lines before March 31, 2017. After submissions are turned in, the English club will narrow the poems down to ten finalists. The poems will then be submitted to a guest poet for final judging. The guest poet provides all ten finalists with a workshop and focuses specifically on their submitted works.

Senior Sara Ann Alexander has been a finalist twice and has this to say:

“It helped me get through the ‘imposter syndrome.’ First, getting to hear from artists who are experts in a craft I admire– a craft I love to read, write, and study– was immense. Knowing I was afforded the opportunity  because of the selection from a jury of my peers, who I somehow resonated with about such personal topics, also helped me connect to my WKU writing community.”

The main event will take place on April 17, 2017, with more details forthcoming.

The Goldenrod Poetry Festival is hosted by the English Club and questions can be directed to their email.

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Free Screening and Q/A Session for “An Uncommon Grace”

We all love movies. It’s ingrained in our very nature as Americans–nay, humans. So when one finds out that there is an opportunity for a free screening of a movie, one wouldn’t typically ask too many questions before they’re there, enjoying the show.

Or is that just me? Either way.

An Uncommon Grace is a movie currently airing on the Hallmark channel. It was recently filmed in the nearby rural counties we all know and love, Hart and Barren. See this film at a free public screening next week at the Historic Plaza Theatre.


The public screening will be on Saturday, March 25, at 4 p.m. But anyone who’s serious about life should come beforehand for the discussion and Q/A panel at 2 p.m. with some of those involved in the making of the film. It will be hosted by WKU’s very own Amy Bingham DeCesare!

We all need a break from our classwork. Yes, even the week after Spring Break. Is a week really enough?

There are not many ways you can go wrong with choosing to enjoy your Saturday night at the Historic Plaza Theatre.

Watch a trailer for the film here.

Follow First Floor Cherry for more info on upcoming film events!

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Try a Career on for Size: WKU English’s Unique Internship Program

In an article  written to help English majors find a job, Paul Corrigan emphasizes that internships are extremely valuable, and that, surprisingly, they are very hard for English majors to acquire. Not because we lack skills, but because most English departments across the country do not feature a “built-in” internship program. Corrigan says,

Internships offer a vital advantage on the job market. They give you real world work experience—an essential qualification. They help you make connections with people who might put in a good word for you or who might pass along to you opportunities or information about jobs. Also, internships allow you to explore whether you even want to work in a particular field. Finding out whether something is or is not for you can be of tremendous value. Finally, according to one survey, employers rate internships as the most important part of a resume, even over what you majored in or what your GPA is.

Lucky for us FirstFloorCherry-dwellers,  we do have the major advantage of a built-in internship program. Not only are internships accessible, they are quite diverse, ranging from teaching assistant to print and digital media design to, you guessed it, FirstFloorCherry blogger, and more.

If you have somewhere you want to intern that isn’t listed, no problem. The application allows for self-placement upon approval.

And Corrigan is right: in my last two interviews, the only thing they were interested in was my internship experience. I tried to talk about my skills in creating newsletters, they wanted to hear more about my social media experience; I tried to talk about my ability to edit, they wanted to know if and how long I had worked in a ‘real-world’ setting.

henry intern

Don’t panic, though, if you haven’t taken any internships. All you need is one semester to earn course credit by trying on a career. Applications are due by March 27, 2017 so that everything is nice and prepared by the time the fall semester starts.

Spend a couple hours over spring break filling out the application and have something to talk to employers about for years to come. Your future you will thank you.

Read about the internship experience in the department’s most recent internship profile on Kalyn Johnson.

Questions can be directed to Dr. Angela Jones at angela.jones@wku.edu if they aren’t answered by the department’s webpage.

Follow FirstFloorCherry for more unique opportunities!

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Are you ready to graduate?

“And what do you plan to do after graduation?” – too many people

“Graduation is closer than you think” – Cherry Hall bathroom stall door

What are you going to do with that degree, teach?” – every stranger I mention my major to (and aunt Judy for the 5th time this year)


Don’t worry. Liberal Arts careers aren’t nearly as scarce as your aunt June makes them out to be.

If you’re looking to graduate soon, or even if you’re not, attend the Potter College Liberal Arts Career Fair, Wednesday, March 22, from 12pm – 3pm in Downing Student Union on the 3rd Floor, if only to help fight the myth that your hard work is going to earn you the spot of top barista.

Hosted by The Center for Career & Professional Development (CCPD), the fair will help you explore possible career paths and talk with employers who have openings for co-op, internship, full-time, part-time, and summer positions.  The job fair will also feature information on some Kentucky graduate school programs.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of it:

Start early in thinking about and preparing for the transition from school to career
Volunteer, co-op, internship, part-time, and summer positions are all available to help your build your skills, build your professional network, and build opportunities for life #AfterWKU.

Research the employers participating and the jobs available
See what employers are coming and what they need. Show up early to ensure you get to speak to employers who may leave early.

Make use of the CCPD’s “Walk-In” service
Every day, you can go in without an appointment to receive a quick resume review, or have your career questions answered. Take a selfie with your career coach to show aunt Judith how prepared you are.

Schedule an appointment with a Rachel Jones, a Professional Development Specialist
The CCPD has Professional Development Specialists available to help you prepare for your future by planning your career path carefully, and by helping you get the additional experience you need to be successful in your field when you graduate.

Rachel Jones is the Career Coach and local aunt Janice defense specialist for Potter College of Arts and Letters!

p.s ask your professor if they will accept extra credit 😉

Good luck out there future graduates, and remember that we here at FirstFloorCherry have your back against all the aunt Lindas out there.


If you have questions, contact The Center for Career & Professional Development,
270-745-3095, rachel.jones@wku.edu

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It’s Slam time again!


The WKU Sustainability Committee is accepting submissions for the Earth Day Festival Poetry Slam until March 31st. After the call for submissions ends on March 31, the poetry slam committee will read through the submissions and let everyone know by April 7.

The Earth Day Festival will be April 20, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Poetry slam began in Chicago in 1984 when American poet Marc Smith began experimenting with open microphone performance venues for poetry. This first slam was designed to move poetry recitals from academia to a popular audience.


More resources:

Slam Definition

A Brief Guide to Slam Poetry

History of Slam Poetry



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The Art of Conversation

My idea of hell on earth is a literary party and I have an uneasy feeling that this post carries with it a lot of sherry-drill with important people.”

– Philip Larkin, on refusing the post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford.

Take a moment to remind yourself of why you picked this degree path… got it?

Now let me guess: you love to write!

For many of us, our passion for writing may stem from just being so naturally good at it. But it could additionally be that we write better than we speak. We all know that even class discussion can be intimidating at times, and how, most of the time, we would rather write a view than speak it in a literary circle.

Now, here comes the big however:

Whether you are pursuing that advanced degree so that you may one day gracefully swarm in academic and literary circles (’round your small table in a low lit room, sipping your coffee or tea), or you simply want to be able to talk to your boss/editor/client ’round a glass of water, you should probably brush up on the art of conversation.


Luckily, Her Ladyship has us covered. Voice of such gems as Her Ladyship’s Guide to Running One’s Home and Her Ladyship’s Guide to the Queen’s English, Her Ladyship knows just what we (british) pre-professionals need, and tidies it up into easy to read guides.

With my yearly Barnes & Noble gift card, I picked up Her Ladyship’s Guide to the Art of Conversation, and now I am happy to pass some of the basics to you. Here are the biggest tips I took from Her Ladyship’s guide:

1. Be confident in your appearance.

Before you ever reach your conversation destination, take a moment to stop by a mirror. Check your hair, teeth, earlobes, whatever, just so that you don’t have to adjust anything during conversation, which makes you appear nervous.

2. Listen like you’re going to use what you’re hearing to save the galaxy.

Do you think Gyn was thinking about what she had for lunch when she was being told about the vulnerability of the Death Star? No.

You should listen intently when someone is speaking instead of thinking about what you’re going to say when the spotlight lands on you. People can tell when you are disinterested, which leads me to the next tip…


3. Smile like you mean it.

“How many times in a trashy novel have your read of the villain, ‘His smile didn’t reach his eyes’? Make sure yours does” (19).

Don’t hold an uncomfortable smile; relax and listen and you will be able to respond with a natural, warm smile.

4. Ask questions.

Her Ladyship advises that if you want to appear interesting, don’t go on about how interesting you are. Instead, ask questions to prompt the other person. They will leave the conversation, having talked about themselves, thinking that you are quite the interesting cat.

Additionally, if a shy person joins your group, get them into the discussion by asking their opinion on the matter just mentioned. You will look like a conversation pro. Don’t push it though: some people are just natural listeners.

5. Small talk is OK.

The conversation has to start somewhere. Small talk should not be despised but should be viewed as a “means to an end,” the end being a real connection (53). Her Ladyship says, “The point of asking ‘Have you come far?’ is not to find out if the other person has come far, it’s to encourage them to tell you about themselves” (142).

Furthermore, “The best conversationalists, it has been said, are those who are genuinely interested in other people and experience real delight in finding out about their lives” (53).


This will hopefully get you started at that next conference or small group discussion. Pick up your own conversational guide from Her Ladyship for tips ranging from common topics to how to get out of a boring conversation nicely.

Eventually, we will all have to represent ourselves not only with our writing, but also our in-person communication. Master these skills now to open doors, and screen doors, and doggy doors, and windows, and curtains, and blinds, etc….

Until next time!

Follow FirstFloorCherry for more enthralling conversation.


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