I’ve had a lot of good luck with publishing and awards since I’ve been at Pepperdine. During my first year or so here I won the “Discovery”/ Boston Review Prize, an award for poets who have not yet published a book. I was really excited about that since so many poets I admire have won it in the past, as well as a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Those awards seemed to help me get a little more traction when I was sending out poems to journals and magazines too. I started sending out the final version of the manuscript that became this book in 2010, and was lucky enough to get some finalist and semifinalist nods in various competitions before the manuscript was selected for the 2013 National Poetry Series.
The Creative Writing classes I’ve been able to teach here have really helped me, too. Not only is it tremendously energizing for me as a writer to be able to go into a room and talk for hours at a time with other people who are excited about the possibilities that writing affords us now, but I’m also constantly learning more about possible approaches writers might take and the problems writers will necessarily face during our class discussions of the pieces that come through the workshop.
The reading in Payson at 4 p.m. today will be the first real reading for this book, and I’m really happy that I’m able to kick the book off in that way at Pepperdine. I have readings and lectures and workshops lined up this semester in Oregon, Texas and Minnesota, as well as a few others in California, and it’ll be terrific to start all of that out here at Pepperdine, where people have been so welcoming and supportive over the past several years.
Jeff Schultz is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Pepperdine’s Seaver College.