MFA Program Announces Specialized GTA Positions

June 1, 2018

The MFA program is pleased to formally announce the selections for next year’s specialized GTA positions:

Blackbird Lead Associate Editor 2018-19

Blackbird has selected Katherine (Katie) Brooks as its Lead Associate Editor for 2018-19. She will be a second-year MFA student in poetry and has ably served the journal during two semesters, including supervising a team of interns as the Lead Page Builder. Katie earned a BA in Art History and another in English with a Creative Writing concentration and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Fairfield University, where she served as the managing editor of the Dogwood literary magazine, supervising its student staff, soliciting and selecting submissions, copyediting manuscripts, and managing its production, in addition to having worked as a Museum Educator at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT and as an educator at the KinderCare Learning Center in Danbury, providing her with a background of experiences that make her a highly capable and strongly qualified candidate for this leadership position.

Each year, Blackbird awards the coveted Lead Associate Editor position to a second-year VCU MFA graduate student. To qualify, the student must already have been awarded a graduate fellowship and have substantial experience working for the journal. The Editor staffs the Blackbird office and is at the center of all the journal’s activities, handling responsibilities that include coordinating the supervision of interns, serving as the liaison between literary and production editors, handling correspondence with contributors, and assisting in the management and selection of submissions. The senior staff this year was grateful to have had several applicants for the position with excellent qualifications and experience.

Our sincere gratitude goes out to Brandie Gray who has been so successful in her service as the Lead Associate Editor for the 2017-18 academic year.

2018 Cabell Fellowship

Kate Vatter has been awarded the 2018 Cabell Fellowship, having completed her apprenticeship as the Assistant Fellow. In the previous position, Kate was indispensable in putting together the 2017 event with Jade Chang, and in her new capacity she will oversee the selection of the next winner by leading the fiction students and VCU at large in the evaluation of more than 120 novel submissions.

Additional congratulations go out to April Sopkin who was appointed to serve as the assistant for next year’s competition.

Of course, we also are indebted to graduating MFAer Julie Geen for her service helping coordinate all the Cabell First Novelist events and competitions.

The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award celebrates the VCU MFA in Creative Writing Program’s year-long novel workshop, the first in the nation and one of the few still in existence. The winning author receives a $5,000 cash prize. Travel expenses and lodging are also provided for the author and her agent, who will attend an evening of events that focus on the creation, publication and promotion of this year’s winning novel. Co-sponsors of the award and activities are the VCU Department of English, the VCU MFA Program in Creative Writing, the James Branch Cabell Library Associates, the VCU Friends of the Library, VCU Libraries, the VCU Honors College, the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences, and Barnes & Noble @ VCU.

Levis Reading Prize Coordinator 2018-19

The Levis Reading Prize Committee is pleased to announce the appointment of Caitlin Etherton as the Levis Reading Prize Coordinator for 2018-19. In addition to getting involved in the selection process of the poetry collections submitted for this year’s competition, Caitlin has held positions of responsibility with Blackbird, reviewing submissions as well as leading and training a team of interns as the journal’s Lead Audio Editor. Caitlin also has considerable previous professional experience, working as a freelance writer and researcher for National Geographic Traveler, and earlier as an Agricultural Director and educator for four nonprofit public school gardens in Charleston as well as the Harvest & Sales Manager for the Ambrose Family Farm operation of Wadmalaw Island, SC. Such experiences have contributed to making her a natural student leader and a strong, highly qualified person for the position, and we look forward to having her organizational leadership in the publicizing, outreach activities, and coordination of the contest next year.

Professor Gregory Donovan, the Levis Reading Prize Director, also wishes to convey the committee’s gratitude to Emily Block for her excellent work as the Levis Coordinator this past year.

Congrats to all!