Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Photo_F12Ambassador_JennTatum

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.

I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in writing and in teaching after taking an Intro to Creative Writing class with a great instructor during undergrad. The teacher had us write a “cento,” a poem that consists of bits and pieces of found text from other writers. Essentially, combining the fragments, you create a new fresh and somewhat original poem. I became obsessed with language and found texts after this experiment. Most of my writing background is based in literature and poetry. During my last semester of undergrad, I took a Nonfiction class with the same teacher mentioned earlier and read The Body: An Essay by Jenny Boully. Um, excuse me?! The title references the body of an essay that is omitted. The entire essay is made up of footnotes to a non-existent text. I had never seen anything like it and became obsessed with the lyric essay and in my own writing began to combine elements of my poetry background with my new-found interest in Nonfiction.

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

I chose Columbia, originally, because Jenny Boully teaches here. I wanted to learn from the person whose work had inspired me to begin writing Nonfiction. I was also very attracted to the city of Chicago, after visiting in February 2009, for the annual AWP Writing Conference. At the time, I wasn’t really sure about my writing, about actually applying to a program and spending the money to pursue writing. Let’s face it, writers generally don’t make a lot of money and nobody’s rushing to a Barnes and Noble to purchase some weird-hybrid-poetry-nonfiction “thing.” I took a year off from school after undergrad to figure out what I wanted to do and to work on a writing sample. When it came down to it, I just couldn’t shake the urge to write and teach. I applied to Columbia. I got in. I moved.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.

I find myself drawn to the bricks in this city and the cracks in the sidewalks. The architecture of the city is working its way into my writing. My most recent essay is a series of prose blocks that focuses on how buildings are built and how they decay through time, which I am blending with my own experiences in relationships and how they are built, destroyed and rebuilt. The writing is fragmented, physical and incorporates images of damaged buildings and bodies. It’s a pretty fresh project, only about ten pages right now, but I see it growing to something much larger.

 

Do you want the student perspective on the Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA program?
Email our Ambassador at nonfiction.mfa@colum.edu

The End of My Marginalia Journey

by Jenn Tatum

Dear Marginalia friends and peers, If you can believe this (because I can’t!)–this is my last blog post ever on Marginalia.That photo up there was taken in November 2010 at …

The End of My Marginalia Journey

Dear Marginalia friends and peers, If you can believe this (because I can’t!)–this is my last blog post ever on Marginalia.That photo up there was taken in November 2010 at …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

A Summer of New

by Jenn Tatum

Phew! I need to catch my breath. That’s me and my first week on the job. My best friend back in San Diego wanted to see “Professional Office Jenn.” I …

A Summer of New

Phew! I need to catch my breath. That’s me and my first week on the job. My best friend back in San Diego wanted to see “Professional Office Jenn.” I …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

A Summer of Celebrations

by Jenn Tatum

The past few weeks have been filled with celebration and good news. On June 6th I celebrated with my friends Wes and Gavin. They got married!  We celebrated at their …

A Summer of Celebrations

The past few weeks have been filled with celebration and good news. On June 6th I celebrated with my friends Wes and Gavin. They got married!  We celebrated at their …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Moving, Applications & Interviews: Post MFA Life

by Jenn Tatum

There’s Sassy again. Snoozing. She has no idea how crazy the past few weeks have been. Summer, for me, is off to a busy start. I moved out of my …

Moving, Applications & Interviews: Post MFA Life

There’s Sassy again. Snoozing. She has no idea how crazy the past few weeks have been. Summer, for me, is off to a busy start. I moved out of my …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Manifestivities & Graduation

by Jenn Tatum

I am a MASTER! I feel like it is impossible to capture the moments of Manifest and Graduation with words. This might seem silly for a writer to say, but …

Manifestivities & Graduation

I am a MASTER! I feel like it is impossible to capture the moments of Manifest and Graduation with words. This might seem silly for a writer to say, but …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

What Classes Will I Take?

by Jenn Tatum

That’s my cat, Sassy. And that’s Montaigne, who you will read and get very familiar with, during your first semester at Columbia, in the History of the Essay Class. You …

What Classes Will I Take?

That’s my cat, Sassy. And that’s Montaigne, who you will read and get very familiar with, during your first semester at Columbia, in the History of the Essay Class. You …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605