Spring 2018 CWL Class

As the final week of the semester approaches, the final semester of Jackalope Magazine is upon us. This week, Jackalope talks to the Spring 2018 Creative Writing and Literature class, the final seven CWL students to graduate from Santa Fe University of Art and Design before the campus officially closes in May. Jackalope sat down with these students and asked them the following questions:


Do you have any ideas for your senior book?


What has been the most influential class you’ve taken so far?

How does it feel being the final group of students to take classes in SFUAD’s CWL department?

How has your writing changed over the course of you studying here?

What do you plan on doing after graduation?


SFUAD Spring 2018 Seniors


This group of creative writing majors will be a part of the last graduating class at SFUAD next year in the spring. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer

Ivy Stover

I don’t have any ideas [for my senior book]yet, I’m going to just throw all my work together and see what happens. Initially, I wanted to try screenwriting, and SFUAD let me do screenwriting and more general creative writing. It was also close to home. Now I have switched into just poetry and fiction, and I still think SFUAD was a good choice for me.

My professors have all been amazing. They helped me improve my craft, and challenged me in new ways. The quality of my education has been the best part, and it’s made everything worth it for me. Living Writers Foundations. [That class] helped me learn how to critically analyze my own writing, and how to improve it. My writing has drastically improved. I’ve learned how to write evocative description in my fiction, and how to play with form in poetry. I’ve found my voice, and found the confidence to write in it.

I’m going to apply for graduate school to study Library Science. I want to be a career librarian when I grow up.


Melissa Dow

After Melissa Dow graduates she plans on starting a YouTube book channel. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer

I have a vague idea of what I want my book to be. Basically I want to do a combination of short nonfiction pieces integrated with the retelling of Native American myths. I have a working title for that idea. It would be called Thunderbird Sightings. I love that title idea. But again, it’s not set in stone. Nonfiction is painful to write and my courage might fail me halfway through writing. I’ll switch to a backup idea if that happens.

SFUAD was the only school I applied to my senior year [of high school]. I wanted to go here because I would get in-state tuition and it was the only school in New Mexico that had a strong writing department. Senior books was a big selling point, as well as the fact that all of the faculty were working artists and had publishing experience. Also no required math classes.

I suppose Julia [Goldberg]’s Intro to Nonfiction class has influenced me the most. That class really forced me to get out of my comfort zone and I’m all the better for it.

[The school closing] kind of sucks, really. I loved this school so much. I was a Student Ambassador. I was part of the process to bring freshmen into the school. I feel so guilty that a lot of them were screwed over and I lucked out. I’m lucky to walk away from this school with a lot of good memories to outweigh some of the bad. The people here have inspired me and taught me so much. This is a milestone in my life; I can stop and look back to see how much smarter I’ve become and how much I’ve changed as a writer and as a person. I’m more confident in my writing. And I’ve developed an eye for editing my own work, which is ultimately the most useful skill for a writer to be self-sustaining. It finally feels like I’m writing the stuff I want to be known for.

After graduation I’m going to go live in Albuquerque with a friend and my sister. My plan is to start a YouTube channel to self-promote my senior book and market myself. I’m going to keep writing and keep learning new skills. But mostly I want to relax and read and build up my bank account. I’m looking forward to decorating my new home, especially my office.


Danell Horan

Dannell Horan plans on going to school to obtain a degree in social work after she graduates. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer

I want to do a combination of nonfiction and poetry [in my book] with two fairly lengthy memoir pieces on the subjects of freedom, or attaining freedom. So basically it will tell some of my life stories of how I got to Santa Fe and the things that have impacted me or I have impacted.

I’m a transfer. I spent my freshman year in Mississippi, but it just wasn’t the place for me. So I applied to four schools on the East Coast, but Santa Fe was always in the back of my mind because I spent a lot of time here as a kid. I didn’t think there was a university with creative writing in Santa Fe until my dad found SFUAD and then, for me, it was the only choice.

Jackalope Magazine with Julia Goldberg and Advanced Poetry with Michael Wilson, both of which I took this semester. I was having a hard time finding my voice in writing all throughout college and didn’t seem to be getting much direction on what I should improve or focus on in workshop. But with the school closing, the classes are more individually focused and for me, that was life changing and I finally found my voice.

I mean, it’s pretty epic. I get to tell people I was the last class to ever graduate my university. I’m the last out the door and having classes that are maybe five/seven people total is amazing too because finally we get to have a community that can be even more close-knit than if the school was [with] 900 students. As sad as it may sound, my favorite year of my entire college experience has been this final year SFUAD has its doors open. I’ve learned more this semester alone than two years previously when I first transferred to SFUAD. I don’t regret the school closing because of this, but I only wish this kind of environment could have been with us the entirety of it.

I want to go to Alaska for a gap year and then head off to grad school in social work. Who knows, if I like Alaska, I might even go to grad school there. But it’s all up in the air right now. I don’t know what school I’ll end up with, I only know it’ll be an adventure worth living and even if people think I’m nuts, I won’t let it stop me from finding the place I’m supposed to be.


Rose Hutson

Rose Hutson currently plans on attending The University of Leicester to obtain a masters degree in Museum Studies. photo by Jason Stilgebouer

I have a lot of pieces that I like and a lot of pieces that I want to like, but only a few that I’m truly happy with. I’m really trying to push myself with this book, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to publish again so I don’t want to take this lightly at all. I’m proud and honored to have this opportunity in general and I do not want to waste it.

There was honestly no other competition for me. I fell in love with Santa Fe and New Mexico and SFUAD the second my plane landed, and leaving this school and this state is going to be incredibly difficult for me. I feel like I found who I was here. I found what I wanted my writing to be as well. But I have a feeling I will eventually make my way back here, it’s land of entrapment.

Well, it’s a tie really between Anne Valente’s Intermediate Fiction class and Quintan [Wikswo]’s Advanced Fiction class. Both professors, while in different ways, truly inspired me in ways that have shaped me into the writer I am now and I am so honored that I was able to learn from both of them. Thank you both, dearly.

I feel like I know what my writing is now. I used to be so afraid to write anything about myself personally. Nonfiction terrified me and I’m not going to lie, it still does. I was afraid of making people uncomfortable or offending people and again, I still am. But now, I find that my goal with my writing is to make people uncomfortable and to really push myself in the topics I tackle. I’ve found that words make me happy and that it’s not all about plot and that I might actually kinda be good at this. My writing feels more like me now.

I feel special, in a way. This university means the world to me, it truly does. I might be alone in that thought, and I really hope that I’m not, but SFUAD is my home. I’ve met incredible people here, talented artists and wonderful professors and I feel lucky to be one of the last students to participate. I appreciate everything this school and Santa Fe has taught me, both in school and outside of it. Thank you to all my professors, you made the situation with the school closing a thousand times easier and really made my experiences at SFUAD memorable.

I just accepted my offer to attend the University of Leicester in England for my Masters in Museum Studies! I’m incredibly excited, it all still feels as if I’m dreaming.


Lauryn Nesbitt

Lauryn Nesbitt loves social media and plans to be a coordinator after she graduates. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer

I want my book to represent my time here in terms of experiences and growth in my writing, while also speaking to my beliefs, politics and all around what I feel the need to say now at this stage in my life. For me, this will be my second published book, so I want to really show maturity in this book. Maturity in terms of standing in my convictions to say my truths.

I chose SFUAD originally for its film program and later switched to creative writing. So I definitely came in with a different agenda than the one I have now, but I think the biggest reason I picked SFUAD is because it’s nothing like where I come from. I think being outside my comfort zone for this long has taught me a special kind of courage.   

Honestly, I have had a lot of great teachers that have mentored me in and out of the classroom, but the class that influenced me the most I didn’t take until this semester. You’ve Got To Read This is taught by Quintan Ana Wikswo and is the first time for me, as a student, where I felt the most represented. Both in the voices we read but also in the styles of writing. I didn’t have to leave any of my identities at the door, nor did I have to choose just one identity to connect from to read and respond in class. I also just loved the work I produced in her class, I haven’t been that excited about my own work in a long time, well new work at least. I started writing young, but it was always with the intent to live on stage. Here I haven’t seen a stage much so I have worked to strengthen my work on paper. I just hope that that’s the growth that people see. The same power and tenacity as my performances in my work overall. I also write more than poetry now, so I hope people want to read other things from me, too.     

I think because we are already in our senior year I don’t feel that weird [about the school closing]. This is a transition that would have to happen anyway. I do think that there is a lot more we have had to take on and deal with due to the school closing, but overall I am ready to say goodbye to undergrad. It’s bittersweet being the last, but for me it’s not the first time a school has closed while I’ve been attending. So at least this time we are actually at the end of the journey.  

Good and bad, I wouldn’t trade coming to SFUAD for anything. It wasn’t at all like I planned, but I think I’m walking away with more than I could have ever asked for. Most of my favorite people and professors have gone now, but I know we will connect in the big world again. I just want to say thank you to everyone that I encountered, I think that’s the best way to not leave anyone out.  

I’m applying to grad schools more as a safety net because I do think a break from school is warranted. I would really like to get back into working with nonprofits and advocate for the arts to be recognized as an asset in childhood education, but also the ways art can be used to affect change in our communities. That is something that I am very passionate about, so an opportunity for an internship or just fellowship with an organization like that would be a dream.


Dee Rose

Dee Rose enjoys writing fantasy during her free time. photo by Jason Stilgebouer

So far the only thing I can say for sure about my senior book is that I want to title it Luniac, which is a word that happened to come out of my mouth while I struggled to recall the words “lunatic” and “maniac” separately. I think, given that title, I have a lot of room to work with different themes. I’m also considering playing with form a little bit, but I haven’t sold myself on that yet.

This school kind of just fell into my lap, honestly. As a high school senior I wasn’t really into the idea of universities or private colleges; I was planning on whatever community college was closest and had creative writing classes so that was I would have time to buckle down and attempt to finish a manuscript. It, apparently, didn’t work out that way. The thing that really sold me on coming here was the teachers and sense of community that the creative writing department presented.

I don’t know that one particular class has been of any significant influence to me. I’ve learned a lot in the time I’ve spent here, but for me it’s been sprinkled throughout all of my classes. It goes beyond classes for me though, to clubs like the Student Writers Association as well as events such as Quadstock and OVF. There’s a lot that has shaped me, but it can’t be pinned down to one place or time or class.

I think I’m more willing to experiment with my writing now than I was before I started here. I never used to stray from fantasy writing, and that’s still the thing I love to write most, but it’s not exclusive to that anymore. For example, this semester I wrote a story that was only one sentence. I wrote a nine-page sentence, that was a story. It baffles me to think about because it was so far out of my sphere and it wasn’t even a fantasy story! My writing has also just overall gotten better, It just looks and sounds better, it reads smoother, it’s not as choppy or confusing, but the best part is that I know how to edit and can stop asking my mom for help since she, as is the habit of most mothers who aren’t writers, will just tell me how amazing she thinks it is and ask for more.

It’s incredibly saddening for me, not just because this department holds such a sentimental place in my life, but because the idea that there are budding writers who will not get to learn from this specific grouping of teachers is heartbreaking. That sounds so dramatic, but just thinking back on the way the CWL teachers interacted with each other as well as us, and how communicative and open they are, it really all added together to create a unique learning experience that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. They taught us more than just how to improve our writing, they also taught us that we, as students, are not less than them just because they’re teachers. They treated us with respect every step of the way, even when they’re put in very uncomfortable dolphin situations.


Geneva Henri-Le Pierrot

Geneva Henri-Le Pierrot aspires to teach English overseas after she graduates. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer

I chose SFUAD because it was far from home. I love my family, but I’ve always wanted some distance to try and imagine myself as an adult. This was like a trial run for the real world.

My fundamentals of creative writing class. This class helped me to look at other people’s writing and develop my own opinion on it. I’m not the strongest speaker in class, so giving my opinion is hard. So being able to take these short story pieces back home and read them in privacy allowed me the space to think about what I liked about the writing or what I would do differently with the setting or character, and helped me to be able to look at writing more critically. It also helped me to look at my work in a different light. When I started at SFUAD I didn’t really know how to write. I had ideas, characters and settings in my head but no knowledge of how to convey all of that on paper. So when I started my freshman year, I wrote shallow-ish kinds of work. I had a story but no depth or meaning–always surface level. And over the years I just started being more honest with my work. I started writing about things that were closer to me and what I wanted to share with my readers.

I feel kind of sad. The entire atmosphere of a school is created through the student body. So the campus feels kind of lonely. But I’m also really excited, I get to be one of the last CWL majors to graduate from SFUAD. I get to go home in the spring with a degree and a sense of accomplishment. It’s kind of bittersweet being the last graduating class. We get to hold on to this legacy because there’s no one to pass the torch onto.

I plan on teaching overseas. I want to see more of the world and I’d get to teach English in another country. I love English, that’s why I became a writer. I’d get to help someone else learn a beautiful language and I’d get to learn one in the process.