English Department to Host Annual Mary Ellen and Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing
- Madeline Kinser
- Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
On October 20th at 2:00 pm in the Kentucky Museum, the WKU English Department will host the twenty-third annual Mary Ellen and Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing. Katy Yocom, author of Three Ways to Disappear, will be the guest writer and judge of this year’s writing competition. The writing competition held as part of the celebration is focused on fiction this year and is open to submissions from English majors or minors as well as students enrolled in creative writing classes. Students can submit their short story (maximum length 15 double-spaced pages) to the English office in Cherry 135. The deadline for submissions is September 20th.
The celebration was originally named after Dr. Jim Wayne Miller, who taught German language and literature at WKU for thirty years until his death in 1996. When his wife, Professor Mary Ellen Miller, who taught poetry for fifty-five years at WKU, passed away, the celebration was renamed to honor both of them. Both Jim Wayne and Mary Ellen Miller were accomplished writers. Jim Wayne Miller is best known for his poetry and books including Copperhead Cane (1964) and The Mountains Have Come Closer (1980). Mary Ellen Miller is best known for her poetry and editorial work. She published a poetry collection called The Poet’s Wife Speaks (2011), and edited Every Leaf a Mirror: A Jim Wayne Miller Reader (2014) with Morris Allen Grubbs.
“The Celebration of Writing represents Mary Ellen and Jim’s wonderful legacy supporting writing in our region,” said Dr. Rob Hale, head of the English Department. “All of our current faculty knew Mary Ellen and appreciate her commitment to writing, to our students, and to WKU. A few of our current students had the pleasure of Mary Ellen’s tutelage and are part of her legendary influence on our graduates.”
After twenty-three years, the Mary Ellen and Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing has become an important fixture in the WKU community. Students and faculty alike participate in the celebration and remember the legacies that Jim Wayne and Mary Ellen Miller left behind. Most importantly, it gives students a chance to workshop their submissions with a professor and a guest writer, so it provides a great opportunity for students to improve their writing. Carder Venable was one of last year’s finalists and has had his submission, “My Blood You Shed: A Gay Man’s Libation,” published on Western Kentucky University’s TopSCHOLAR website.
“The Mary Ellen and Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing is such an important event at WKU because it provides a place for students to publish their work outside of Zephyrus, and I believe the more outlets of publication that we have on campus, the better,” said Venable, a junior English for Secondary Teachers major. “I was honored to be a finalist in last year’s competition, and the experience definitely gave me confidence in my own writing and inspired me to seek publication elsewhere.”
Submitting creative work in a competition can be daunting, but the potential rewards and opportunities make it worth taking a chance.
“If you don’t enter the contest, you have a one hundred percent chance of not winning,” said Dr. David Bell, professor of creative writing in the English Department. “If you enter – hey – who knows what could happen? You might win. You might place. You might gain some valuable insight about your work. It sounds like a winner all around.”
More information about the Mary Ellen and Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing can be found on the English Department’s website. For more information about the English Department, please contact Dr. Rob Hale.