Marina Woollven Wins Muse Times Two

Muse Times Two is an annual series of poetry readings, which takes place at Collected Works Bookstore. The series includes a contest open to students from Santa Fe’s four local colleges, and a winner is selected from each school. This year, SFUAD’s winner is Creative Writing senior Marina Woollven. She has been awarded a cash prize of $250 and will be reading at Collected Works, along with the other contest winners, next month. Woollven said she was ecstatic when she got the news of her victory.

Marina Woollven Photo by Rebeca Gonzalez

Marina Woollven
Photo by Rebeca Gonzalez

Although she is not entirely comfortable with the idea of reading her work in front of others, Woollven said that it has gradually gotten easier for her during her time at SFUAD.

“Slowly through, like, open mics, simple readings at school, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with speaking in front of people,” Woollven said. “I’ve noticed the more I read, the more solid it’s becoming so I do feel confident that I won’t make a mess of myself when I have to do the reading, but I won’t say, ‘oh yeah, that’ll be nothin’!’ (laughs).”

Interestingly enough, neither of Woollven’s creative writing tracks are poetry; her studies have instead been focused on screen-writing and fiction. However, during a poetry segment of a Writer’s Foundation class that she took during her freshman year, Woollven became interested in poetry and later when taking a Techniques of Poetry class with Creative Writing faculty member Dana Levin, realized that she wanted to pursue the genre further.

“As time went on and on, I just kept having classes that involved poetry and so I just kept developing this skill,” Woollven said. “It wasn’t even until last year that I admitted I was kind of a poet.”

Woollven is currently taking SFUAD’s Advanced Poetry course, taught by faculty member Matt Donovan.

“All through Marina’s work, there’s a beautiful exploration of a strange unease, beautifully and surprisingly coupled with a sense of intimacy and tenderness,” Donovan said through an email interview. “I love her blurring of genre boundaries, and the way she’s able to blindside the reader with a veer in syntax or  an unexpected but pitch-perfect verb.”

Woollven said she feels that she has gotten to the point where her poetry has become stronger than her fiction work, and that although this is a new experience for her, she has no intention of fighting it. Instead, she said she views the process of finding one’s writing style to be a part of the Creative Writing BFA experience.

Marina Woollven Photo by Rebeca Gonzalez

Marina Woollven
Photo by Rebeca Gonzalez

Woollven said her poetry is very different from her fiction work. For this reason, it was a challenge for her to select which poems she would submit to the Muse Times Two contest. She attempted to lean away from the poems that she was closest to.

“There’s my ideas of what are my best poems and then there are people’s ideas of what are my best poems,” Woollven said. “My favorite poems are never anyone else’s favorites. They’re always the ‘meh’ poems of the group. I had to bite down on my love and submit what I knew people were responding to. Except for one, because we get three.”

This is the second college writing contest Woollven has won. The first was the 2014 Playboy College Fiction Contest, in which she placed third. She said she feels that her submission process was much different this time around.

“I was writing it thinking of the editors of playboy, thinking, ‘what would they write?’” Woollven said. “I didn’t just pull it up. The poetry I write now is… I’m very, very, very self indulging.”

Despite reservations she has about the pull of fiction and screenwriting on the consumer, Woollven said that she will always write poetry.

“It’s just something I do,” she said.

The other contest winners were Michaelsun Knapp from the Institute of American Indian Arts; John Saulog from St. John’s College and Jessica Doolittle from Santa Fe Community College.

The winners will read at Collected Works Bookstore at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 10.