Poetry, publishing introduced by new professor

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Dr. Ryan Headshot

Sara Ryan|Courtesy

Dr. Sara Ryan joined the English Department at the beginning of this semester.

This year, the English Department added Dr. Sara Ryan to the team as an assistant professor of English. Before joining the Marlin community, Ryan attended Texas Tech University (TTU) where she received her PhD in English and Literature with specialties in creative writing and poetry. Ryan had the opportunity of teaching at TTU as she worked towards her PhD.

“I have focused on poetry, but I also focus a lot on digital writing and image text writing,” Ryan said. “That’s kind of what I’m going to be working on here, establishing the editing and professional writing kind of portion of our creative writing track.”

While at TTU, Ryan published her first book of poetry, “I Thought There Would Be More Wolves.” Along with the publication of her book, Ryan also published various poems and essays.

Despite the many accomplishments she yielded while at TTU, Ryan was ready for a change after receiving her doctorate.

“Texas Tech is in Lubbock, Texas, which is about as big as Norfolk is, maybe like 200,000, but really dusty. There’s a lot of cattle and farms, and not a lot going on,” Ryan said. “I was really excited to be in a vibrant place, and Virginia Wesleyan just seems like a very kind of creative-minded school that’s really student-focused.”

Ryan hopes to bring new ideas and opportunities to the Marlin community. Alongside other members of the English Department, she plans to add an Editing and Professional Writing track for English majors and minors, as well as a digital literary journal to help students get work published. 

“We are excited for Dr. Ryan to bring her expertise in poetry and publishing into the classroom,” Associate Professor of English Gavin Pate said. “Her own poetry is at turns reflective, serious, quirky and passionate, and we know she’ll inspire our students in whatever direction their creativity takes them.”

Very few professors at VWU have focuses in creative writing and poetry. However, Ryan will be teaching ENG 310: Distinctive Voices in Contemporary American Poetry, a class on innovative experimental poets using contemporary American poetry, next semester. Nodding towards the future digital literary journal, she will also be teaching WES 200: “Make This Go Viral:” BookTok, Instagram Poetry, and Viral Literature in Spring 2024. If your TikTok “For You” page is all about books, she recommends taking this class.

Ryan is currently teaching a few classes, and some students have wanted to share their favorite moments. Sophomore Emma Polk is currently taking ENG 298: Introduction to Poetry Writing with Ryan.

“My favorite part has been the amount of group discussion that we do. It gives us the opportunity to share our poetry with each other and hear feedback,” Polk said. “Dr. Ryan is great at leading discussions and encouraging us to give suggestions and praises to our fellow classmates.” 

Ryan is excited to continue sharing her ideas with the Marlin community and can’t wait to see where the next years take her. 

“Students at VWU should take her class because it doesn’t just adhere to students who are majoring in English, any student can take it and actually enjoy it,” Polk said. “I’m a Computer Information Systems major and I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the class, but I’ve found that it’s been one of my favorites because of how inclusive and supportive Dr. Ryan is.”

If you’re interested in the poetry, publishing or creative writing sides of English, or if you’re just looking for something different to add to your class schedule, consider taking one of Ryan’s classes in the upcoming semesters.

Sara Ryan|Courtesy Dr. Sara Ryan at the launch of her book of poetry, “I Thought There Would Be More Wolves.”

By Chloe Booher