The first time I met Robert Stubblefield was in the University Center, and I was in crisis. I arrived at UM three years earlier with big plans to become a writer. After four semesters, though, I’d done little writing—hadn’t even taken a workshop—and all the extra-curricular fun I was having left me feeling a little caved-in, a little guilty. So I left.
I attempted to apply to a different university, but never finished the application. I went to culinary school but dropped out. I read an article about Iceland in Newsweek and bought a plane ticket on a whim. Being in Iceland was more expensive than getting there. My parents had to wire me money.
My year of searching ended fruitlessly, and I returned to UM in the fall of 2008 feeling as restless and frustrated with myself as ever. That’s when I met Professor Stubblefield. He told me there were still spots in his Montana Writers Live! class, and that he’d love to have me.
In some ways, that was the first important college class I took. Not necessarily because of the content, but because of the community of thought, conversation and inquiry it fostered in the students. A community that spilled out of the classroom into our personal lives. It’s this community that started The Oval, and it’s how I became its third Editor-in-Chief in 2010.
These days I still live in Missoula. I’ve worked as a staff writer at the Missoula Independent, and contributed essays and articles to Headwall, SBNation, and others. I’ve learned to love writing, the work it demands. It’s trite to say you owe any sort of success to a single person or institution. So I won’t. But there’s no way around this: if not for Professor Stubblefield and my peers at The Oval, I might still be searching for something to make me happy. They taught me how to think, how to communicate, and not only how to keep going, but why I should want to.
Come and celebrate the publication of the 2015 Oval Magazine. The magazine will be on sale for $5 (with your griz card) and select readers from the issue will be giving short readings. The launch will take place at the Mansfield Library, ground floor, at noon.
My history with the Oval goes back to 2009, when I was a freshman at UM. I wasn’t a part of the first Oval class that academic year, but I fell in love with the magazine and participated in its creation in one way or another until I graduated in 2014 with degrees in Japanese and Lit-Creative Writing. Over those five years I saw the Oval staff mature from a small group of dedicated students editing submissions in the UC to a class of talented, experienced editors and publishers. I am so proud of what we have accomplished, and I know that this year’s Oval will reflect that growth and maturity.
I am now an MSc student in the University of Edinburgh’s Translation Studies program. Master’s programs in the UK are typically intensive, year-long programs that culminate in a dissertation. My program focuses on the history and evolution of translation studies theories as well as the link between translation studies and other academic disciplines, including culture and gender studies. My core courses are in English, but I have a portfolio class in Japanese. One of the best things about my program is that it encompasses so many languages and cultural backgrounds–out of about thirty classmates only one other person works with Japanese, and together we represent more than ten countries. Right now I’m working on my final essays, which are due in the next few weeks, and on my dissertation, which is due in mid-August and centers around an original translation of segments from a Japanese novel by Kitamura Kaoru. My graduation will be in late November. I have been working as a freelance translator for the past six months or so, and am currently interviewing for a Junior Translator position with Nintendo.
When I started my program back in September of 2014, one of the things I missed most was being a part of a writing community, so I went in search of a student group like the Oval and ended up joining Nomad Magazine. Each spring Nomad publishes an issue of student travel, politics, culture, art and photography, and creative writing. Nomad is younger than the Oval by a few years and is entirely student-run. The magazine is free and receives no funding from the University, so members spend the year fundraising in order to cover printing fees. We meet at a cafe once a week for workshopping our own writing, often using a fortnightly theme system of writing and editing. I like this system because it meant that I ended up writing pieces in a variety of different genres and styles that I might not have explored on my own. Nomad takes submissions from all University of Edinburgh students, but allows Nomad members to submit pieces as well. A travel piece (which I wrote the skeleton of in one of Robert’s classes back in 2010) and two poems of mine will be published in the 2015 issue, which is going to the printer in the next few weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a copy to Robert before the semester finishes at UM so that he can share it with everyone at the Oval!