Sally Rodgers, a graduate student from Tuscon, Arizona, pursuing her MFA in Poetry discusses her time here at UA. Through her work with the university’s Writers in the Schools program she is able to share her passion for English with the children of the Tuscaloosa community. During her undergraduate career, Sally switched majors from Linguistics to Philosophy, before beginning her MFA program in English and Creative Writing. Sally really enjoys working with children in helping them to expand their writing skills and would one day like to pursue a career in English if the opportunity presented itself.
What do you enjoy most about UA’s Department of English?
All my awesome friends in the MFA program. Getting to hangout and collaborate with so many talented people is truly a privilege.
What experience from your undergraduate career stands out in your mind?
I lived in Portland, Oregon for most of my undergraduate career, and I really enjoyed living there and getting to know the city as well as the Portland State campus. All the green and rain were a huge change from Tucson, and although it took awhile to adjust, I ended up falling in love with the place. PSU’s campus sprawls beautifully across downtown Portland in an area known as the Park Blocks—more than ten blocks of city park, each containing public art, like a statue or fountain, and tons of trees and roses. There’s one statue of Teddy Roosevelt on a horse, and to cheer ourselves up, my friends and I would always sing the chorus to Ruff Ryders Anthem, by DMX as we biked past in the rain.
What do you plan on doing after graduate school?
Oh man, that’s a tough question. Honestly, I can’t say for sure. I enjoy teaching and working with children. I’ll probably stick around Tuscaloosa for some months to save up money, so potentially I could continue to work with WITS and maybe host readings and shows in the meantime.
What do you enjoy most about living in Tuscaloosa?
I enjoy the arboretum and my mutt Sycamore, who was once a stray but now spends her time obsessing over the cats who’ve moved in beneath our house.
What do you do in your free time?
I spend most of my free time working on various projects. I have recently been working on establishing The University of Alabama Writers in the Schools program with my friends Kenny Kruse and Meghan Plummer. I have also been coordinating, with my friend Cory Patton, on a collaborative art event with Tuscaloosa’s Maubilans Art Collective. The event took place April 5th at Twin Restaurant/Tuscaloosa Country Club. A lot of people from the Department of English read and local artists displayed their art. Afterwards there were bands, DJ’s, and dancing for the rest of the night.
Elaborate a little on what WITS does and what you do in the program.
UA WITS is a program started by Kenny Kruse, Freya Gibbon, Molly Goldman, and myself in the fall of 2013. Robin Behn has been our main faculty adviser, although Trudier Harris and Hank Lazer have also been instrumental. We modeled our program after other Writers in the Schools programs across the country.
When does WITS take place?
For the most part, the lessons take place on Fridays, every other week, but we’re super flexible with scheduling because our main concern is supporting the individual teachers with whom we work.
Where are you working with WITS this semester?
I’ve been working mainly with a fourth grade class at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. It has been such a blast. The students are so sweet and always so excited to see me. Plus, the poems they write are super creative.
Writers in the Schools currently has 12 writers in 13 classrooms around the city. They are currently working on securing funding for the project so they can ensure its sustainability beyond the tenures of the founding members at the university.