B.A. - English Literature, French, International Studies, Davidson College, 2008
M.F.A. - Creative Writing, Poetry, University of Florida, 2017
I’m a Florida-born artist, teacher, poet, musician, and freelance writer living in Nashville, TN. My life and work are focused on learning to see the world through new perspectives, noticing the weird and wonderful minutiae that make up daily life, creating and re-creating worlds with sound, color, words, or whatever raw materials are at hand, and finding ways to communicate beauty and kindness to others.
I earned my Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry with a full fellowship from the University of Florida in 2017, studying under Michael Hofmann, Amy Hempel, Padgett Powell, Ange Mlinko, William Logan, and Sidney Wade.
I was the 2017 artist-in-residence at the Austin Cary Memorial Forest in Gainesville, Florida, where I studied longleaf pines and their remarkable ability to thrive through fire. In 2019, I served as the first Steve Kemp Writer-in-Residence through the Great Smoky Mountains Association, working to promote awareness and interest in the national park's history and biodiversity through writing and teaching “Creative Observation” workshops in Tennessee and North Carolina.
My poetry looks at the likenesses between human bodies, human lives, and the elements and processes of the non-human natural world. My fiction remembers and connects to the natural world through looking at the details of human interactions, often exploring familiar objects, characters, and scenes through the fresh lens of a child or animal. This helps me free individual experiences and objects from the connotations to which they’ve been bound in my own mind.
In the past I’ve studied with Henri Cole, Therese Svoboda, Alan Michael Parker, and Cynthia Barnett, edited the arts and culture section of Charlotte Viewpoint Magazine in NC with writer Jeff Jackson, and worked with the Franklin Park Reading Series in Brooklyn. My work has appeared in Quick Fiction, 491 Magazine, Treehouse Magazine, Revelader, The Oakland Review, The Cub Report, Libertas, Grasslimb Journal, Charlotte Viewpoint, WUFT.org, Hearty Magazine, and Hobart.
In my spare time I love exploring nature, making art, observing animals, and creating music. In my courses, I teach others how to be more creative, how to grow more attuned to their environments, and how to express themselves more clearly.
I also write and perform music as WHEATS. Find my art , music, and info about upcoming shows at wheatsmusic.com.
I’m a poet, writer, singer, musician, artist, and teacher. I like to explore the world by traveling to faraway places, but I also like to explore the world by examining the tiny details that make everything in this world so fascinating. This process of zooming-in grows the world around me and keeps me alert, awake, and fulfilled, even when I don’t leave my office.
It brings me joy to teach these kinds of child-like observation and creative thinking skills to others. I help others learn to express themselves more beautifully, more clearly, and more powerfully. When you learn to observe the world around you in detail, you can use these observations to charge your own writing and speaking with the type of visceral content that compels others to invest in your words. I visit classrooms, conferences, and other gathering spaces to teach courses on everything from poetry forms to creative observation skills and journaling methods.
For details on my poetry and fiction, see Artist’s Statement.
Why & How I Teach
I’ve always thrived on the exchange of information that takes place in writing classes, from private tutoring to teaching Professional Writing for Engineers at the University of Florida to teaching Creative Journaling through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The art of listening, the skill of organizing information to meet a particular need, and the thrill of constant exposure to new ideas have been the major forces driving me for as long as I can remember.
Over the course of my experiences teaching, counseling, and working in other leadership roles with both children and adults, I’ve learned the importance of clarity paired with kindness. My instinct for openness, the direct handling of issues, and promoting honest, straightforward discussion of boundaries lead to a calm, comfortable, and safe classroom atmosphere.
I have learned that a group’s sanity and success level often depend on the communication style among group members. I require honesty as well as respect between individuals because of (not in spite of) any differences of opinion or background. I make this immediately clear in any class I teach, but it’s especially important to consider in a creative writing workshop, where students share intimate, creative work. That sharing makes people feel vulnerable, and vulnerability is strength. By respecting someone’s unique perspective AND feeling comfortable enough to share clear, honest feedback on their expression of it, we can honor that strength.
I became a poet, in part, because of my high school calculus teacher, whose passion for math burned so brightly it often extended into elaborate, slightly off-topic classroom discussions about the histories and rumored love lives of ancient mathematicians. She knew and loved each formula so deeply she felt compelled to share the whole history of detailed events that led up to the development of that particular equation. I remember drafting a poem about Galois’ duel in the margins of my calculus notes, tearing up along with the teacher as she recounted the saga of Andrew Wiles and his lifelong dream of solving Fermat’s last theorem. I have modeled my sense of what it means to be a good teacher after her example: that blend of boundless curiosity and clear joy that can leap from teacher to student. No matter the subject at hand, a good teacher is part story-teller, part problem-solver, part architect, part translator, and above all a vivid example of what love looks like.
About My Writing
My poetry looks at the likenesses between human bodies, human lives, and the elements and processes of the non-human natural world. I like poems that hide their rhymes inside the lines and don’t get too flashy at the edges. My poems tend to be brick-worded; I like the complexity to be there in spirit, not in vocabulary. Emily Dickinson taught me this.
My fiction reflects on the natural world through looking at the details of human interactions. I like exploring everyday objects, scenery, and situations through the fresh lens of a child or animal, or otherwise removing the main subject’s ability to express experience in immediate and familiar ways. This helps me free individual topics from the connotations by which they’ve been bound in my own mind. This is one of my favorite ways to learn.