Missouri State University
Department of English Blog

Ozarks Celebration Festival: Alumna reveals Ozarks’ underbelly

Nancy AllenNancy Allen has seen enough courtroom drama to write a book about it. In fact, she has written two!

The former Greene County assistant prosecutor will be on campus Sept. 17 to talk about her two published legal thrillers, “The Code of the Hills” (HarperCollins 2014) and “A Killing at the Creek” (HarperCollins 2015), as well as her upcoming third novel.

The presentation is part of the Ozarks Celebration Festival’s Ozarks Lecture Series.

Years of victim advocacy informed book series

Allen is native of the Missouri Ozarks and an MSU alumna with a degree in English. She is an attorney and senior instructor of business law at Missouri State. She lives in Springfield with her husband and two children.

She was only the second female prosecutor in Greene County where she tried more than 30 jury trials, including murder, rape and incest. She has serve on the Rape Crisis Board and the child protection team of the Child Advocacy Council. She is currently on the board of directors of the Victim Center, an agency which provides free counseling, crisis intervention, and advocacy services for children and adults who are victims of violent and sexual crime in Southwest Missouri.

Nancy Allen BooksOzarks Mysteries reveals complexities of Ozarks culture

Allen’s books are part of her Ozark Mysteries series which follows the career of fictional prosecutor Elsie Arnold who finds that life in the Ozarks — whose beautiful scenery is juxtaposed with a generational history of abuse and code of silence — is more complicated than she expected.

When will she present?

Date: Sept. 17
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Plaster Student Union, Room 313

About the lecture series

The Ozarks Lecture Series occurs the week after the Ozarks Celebration Festival and features lectures on the history and culture of the Ozarks. Visit the festival website for more information about the festival including participants and a schedule of events.

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A Fiction Reading by Michael Czyzniejewski

Breakup_StoriesThis Friday Missouri State University’s own Associate Professor in the English Department Michael Czyzniejewski will be reading from his new collection, I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories. His reading will take place in Plaster Student Union Theater at 7:00 p.m.

About the New Collection

I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life by Michael Czyzniejewski examines 29 cases of human love at their most critical junctures, bearing witness to the absurdity of longing.

In a review for the Chicago Tribune, Hope Reese shares that the stories “detail the aftereffects of toxic relationships, traumas and delusions. Less concerned with actual breakups and “love” in any traditional sense, Czyzniejewski’s stories feature characters often desperate, pathetic and delusional. They flirt with danger, quavering on the border of mental instability.”

Czyzniejewski was recently interviewed for the Missouri State Journal in which he discusses what inspired this collection and what he hopes his readers will gain from reading his stories.

mcAbout Czyzniejewski

Michael Czyzniejewski is an assistant professor in the English Department at Missouri State University, teaching courses in fiction writing and literature. He is the author of three collections of short stories, Elephants in Our Bedroom (Dzanc Books, 2009), Chicago Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2012), and I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2015).

He is also the editor of Moon City Review and the Missouri Authors Series and contest series for Moon City Press. In 2010, he was awarded an NEA Fellowship in Fiction. For the past twenty-seven seasons, he has also worked as a beer vendor at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Event Details

Plaster Student Union Theater
Date: Friday, August 28
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: 901 S National Ave, Springfield, MO 65897
Admission: Free and open to public

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English professor’s poem gets national airtime

Jane HWell-known radio show host Garrison Keillor recently read Dr. Jane Hoogestraat‘s poem “At the Edge of a Time Zone” on his program Writer’s Almanac.

Keillor, of “A Prairie Home Companion” fame, read Hoogestraat’s poem on his August 2 program (poem starts at 2:50). The poem is from her award-winning book “Border States,” published in December 2014.

Poetry collection inspired by rural upbringing

Jane H Book

“Border States” is a 72-page poetry collection that was inspired by her experiences growing up in rural South Dakota: “I’ve been writing poetry for a number of years, and I discovered more and more that I was writing about cultural geography. That’s how the landscape and culture of a place influences people in ways that they’re not even always aware of.

“I discovered a few years ago that I had enough poems that were place-based, so I started working to put them together in a collection.”

The book was published as a winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry by BkMk Press, a University of Missouri-Kansas City press. Hoogestraat also received a $1,000 award.

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Calling all new arts and letters students!

COAL BearWear StudentsCOAL kicks off convocation day with New Student Lunch

The College of Arts and Letters will be welcoming its newest members to campus with a free lunch on the Craig Hall patio from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 16.

Who says there’s no such thing as a ‘free lunch’?

The luncheon will give new students the opportunity to mingle, find out about student organizations and engage with the college’s faculty and staff. In case of rain, the event will be moved inside Craig Hall.

COAL alumnus to give convocation speech

After grabbing a bite to eat, students can head over to the JQH Arena to hear from one of COAL’s successful alumni, actor Kyle Dean Massey, at the New Student Convocation starting at 2 p.m.

Massey, who plays Kevin Bicks on ABC’s “Nashville,” graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre. He is known for his starring roles on Broadway in “Pippin,” “Next to Normal,” “Wicked” and “Xanadu.”

Come out to the New Student Lunch!

Date: Aug. 16
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Location: Craig Hall patio
Contact: Associate Dean Mark Biggs by email or at 417-836-4984


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OWP writing camp engages high school students

PrintThe Ozarks Writing Project will bring high school students from across the region to campus July 13-17 for the annual Youth Writing Camp. This session is for students entering grades 9-11.

Students exercise writing muscles at camp

This camp offers young writers a chance to participate in highly engaging writing activities designed to inspire, improve and ignite student writing. They include a variety of topics such as altered books, fables, parodies, poetry, personal writing time, field trips and more. Visit the website for more information.

Event details

Dates: July 13-17
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Siceluff Hall Room 322
Admission: $325 per student (includes lunch)

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Two English professors expected to be on sabbatical next year

Professor Etta Madden and Associate Professor Shannon Wooden will each be on sabbatical next year to complete research and books on their respective areas of interest.

etta_maddenMadden explores women’s issues with book, conference paper

Madden will be researching and writing her fourth book, “Engaging Italy: American Women’s Utopian Activism after Unification,” for her sabbatical project next year. In September, she will also present her scholarly paper, “Left Behind: Journalist Anne Hampton Brewster’s Circle of Men and Bagni di Lucca, 1873.” The paper will be delivered at the Italian conference “Questions of Gender: The Feminine in Victorian Culture.”

WoodenWooden to complete book, certificate in narrative practice

Wooden will be completing her book “Revising Illness Stories: Critical Listening and Constructing Collaboration” during her sabbatical in the fall. Wooden, a top national scholar in the emerging field of narrative medicine, will also be participating in a low-residency program in narrative medicine at Columbia University while working for a certificate in narrative practice.

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Grad student fights to keep Ozarks culture alive

OWCoverDid you know that the Mark Twain National Forest was established in the Missouri Ozarks in 1933? Or there is a Bushwacker Museum in Bronaugh, Missouri? You would if you subscribed to “OzarksWatch” magazine, bringing the history and culture of the Ozarks to the page since 1987.

Missouri State graduate student Vicke Kepling manages “OzarksWatch,” an 88-page, ad-free publication that comes out twice per year. It is produced by MSU’s Ozark’s Studies Institute and the College of Arts and Letters.

Kepling: I don’t know a stranger

Kepling, who is studying for a master’s degree in technical and professional writing, also has a master’s in business administration and certificate in public management from MSU.

In her third year with “OzarksWatch,” we caught up with her about the magazine and her Missouri State experiences:

Vicke_KeplingWhat is unique about “OzarksWatch”?

“OzarksWatch” is one of the few remaining printed periodicals about the Ozarks. As far as we know, it is the last one that focuses on the history and culture of the Ozarks.

What is the best thing about your job?

My favorite aspect of the position is marketing and trying to raise awareness about the magazine in the area. Too many people don’t realize that this magazine even exists. With the help of social media, the addition of online sales, and my business background, I aim to change that fact. I also enjoy meeting new people, both in marketing and doing interviews for stories. I don’t know a stranger.

Why did you choose Missouri State for your education?

I am a nontraditional, adult student who had always dreamed of obtaining a degree. In fact, I’m the first in my family to do so. In 2009, I moved back home to Missouri and chose to work towards achieving my dream. Missouri State was the logical choice. While I found the large size of the university to be a bit daunting at first, I quickly made friends and became more comfortable.

What is your favorite thing about being an MSU student?

I love the feeling I get when I walk onto campus. The trees, flowers, students, sidewalk chalk, diversity and openness all combine with academia to create an enthusiastic, hopeful environment that sometimes seems to be missing in other parts of the world.

What have you learned about the Ozarks since working for the magazine?

As I read more about the history of this area, I realize how much change has occurred over time. It’s interesting to note some of the old-time culture that has remained (hunting and crafts, for example) and the return of other activities, such as more individuals gardening and canning foods. As I’ve grown older, my appreciation for history has increased. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful, resource-rich area.

Why should people subscribe?

There are two reasons: First, “OzarksWatch” is a high-quality magazine with no advertisements. People seem to really enjoy the stories and the switch to full color photographs in our most recent issue. Second, subscribing supports the preservation of our history. Printing is not cheap, and we Ozarkers are lucky to have this magazine to record the past and present.

Visit the “OzarksWatch” website to subscribe.

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English Dept Awards Reception to take place Fri 5/8

As the 2014 – 2015 academic year draws to a close, the English Department is getting ready to recognize our students’ many successes.

The annual English Department Awards Reception will take place this Friday, May 8th at 5:00 PM. The event is designed to honor those students who have achieved significant accomplishments over the course of this past academic year, including scholarships, publications, presentations, graduations, and more.

The  reception will also honor our many faculty members who have achieved significant recognition for their scholarly work, including awards, grants, and publications.

The reception will take place in the Plaster Student Union Room 400.

Hors d’Oeuvres will be served, all students are invited, and you are encouraged to bring guests.

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Student Invitational Reading To Feature 7 Student Writers

The biannual Student Invitational Reading will take place Friday May 1 at 7:00 in the Plaster Student Union Theater. The Invitational features undergraduate and graduate students who have exhibited exceptional work in creative writing. The event, which closes out our Spring 2015 Reading Series, will last from 7:00 – 8:15. It’s free and open to the public.

The following students will be reading:

Mariah Bohanon, Nonfiction
Joel Coltharp, Fiction
Allys Dale, Poetry
Ryan Hubble, Fiction
Nicholas Penton, Fiction
Jordan Ryan, Nonfiction
Alex Webster, Poetry

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