Hi, I’m Vonnie. I am a registered nurse and recent graduate from UCF’s undergraduate creative writing degree. I’m excited and honored to start UCF’s MFA program for poetry this fall. As an undergraduate at UCF, I discovered a new “voice” that I never knew existed in me. I began to experience words and writing on a different level—a level where imagination and craft took over—and I have the creative writing faculty to thank for this.
What started out as a birthday gift to me—a subscription to The New Yorker from my mother two decades ago—has bloomed into a gusty desire to understand and write cool poetry. Reading poems from The New Yorker with my mom was fun, but she would end up saying, “I don’t understand any of this,” and I’d just look at her and say, “I don’t, either, but they sure are beautiful.”
My infatuation with these poems and other great literature lead me to enroll in UCF’s undergraduate English program. There, I met Kirsten Holt, my Creative Writing for English Majors instructor, who is an alumna of the UCF MFA program; she changed everything I thought about words. (Sorry, Jamie, I know you loathe semicolons!) Kirsten was the first person who taught me that it’s okay to take risks in my writing. So I wrote like Faulkner—long, awkward, run-on sentences—and it worked.
There are things I was taught as an undergraduate that have resonated with me to this very day: Laurie Uttich encouraged me to continue writing for the marginalized population (I’m a mental health nurse), Terry Thaxton encouraged me to write quirky poems, and I remember Jamie Poissant had characterized my writing as “Flannery-esque.” The insight and instructions of UCF’s faculty have instilled the confidence and curiousity in me necessary to continue my writing journey as an MFA graduate student.
As a returning student with career and family obligations, UCF was the perfect choice for me. I applied to UCF’s MFA program as well as to the low-residency MFA at the University of Tampa, but decided that University of Central Florida is the place where I want strive to be the best poet and writer I can be; it’s the place where I feel most at home.
This spring, Don Stap’s poetry workshop is the icing on my cake (horrible cliché, I know) because of the comfort I feel in the classroom among the friends I have made here, and the knowledge of craft I’m confident I’m acquiring.
I can only imagine what lurks for me next in my poetry and my education, and I can’t wait to find out for sure in UCF’s MFA program. I know I’ll have the guidance and encouragement necessary to fulfill a lifelong desire—to challenge myself to write my own quirky versions of New Yorker-esque poems. If it weren’t for UCF’s undergraduate creative writing program, there would have been a side of me undiscovered, a voice unheard. With gratitude for this experience, its instructors, and my mother, I write this.
Vonnie Amey is an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida. Her nonfiction, “Paperboy,” and fiction, “The Red Girl,” have appeared in The Cypress Dome. Her poetry has appeared in Vine Leaves Journal, and her poem, “Vietname” was nominated for a Pushcart prize. She will begin the MFA program at UCF in fall 2015.