By Jordan Beach

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Back row, left to right: Luke Madden, Wesley Young and Clayton Anderson. Front row, left to right: Cierra Sherman and Jules Miller.

Reinhardt University’s MFA in Creative Writing Commencement Ceremony looked a little different this year, with chairs spread six feet apart across the Hoke O’Kelley Auditorium, face masks and fewer loved ones to join in the celebrations.

The low-residency model of Reinhardt’s Etowah Valley MFA program enabled the third graduating cohort to host a modified commencement ceremony on Monday, July 13. With a limited number of guests, the ceremony was livestreamed on Facebook Live for family and friends to celebrate from afar.

The event began with the presentation of the Driscoll Award for Excellence in Regional Scholarship and Creative Work, largely supported by Reinhardt’s faculty and staff, and was awarded to Cierra Sherman, Jules Miller and Wesley Young.

This year’s keynote speaker was MFA faculty Raymond Atkins, who read several of his pieces and congratulated the graduates. Atkins received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Writers Association for his five novels and collection of personal essays in 2017. He is retiring as a fiction mentor from the MFA program and as an English instructor from Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

Dr. Mark Roberts,  Interim President, addressed each of the five graduates individually to official confer their degrees, telling of the accomplishments the writers already achieved since enrolling in the program.

Congratulations to the MFA in Creative Writing Class of 2020!

  • David Clayton Anderson, Jr. of Jasper, Georgia
    • “The Judge’s Three Faces: Judge Holden in Samuel Chamberlain’s Memoir ‘My Confession,’” “Cormac McCarthy’s Short Story ‘The Scalphunters,’” and “McCarthy’s Novel ‘Blood Meridian’”
    • “The Palms: A Novel”
  • Luke Daniel Madden of Cumming, Georgia
    • “Setting the Tone: The Coen Brother’s Use of Juxtaposition, Incongruity, and Absurdity to Write Dark Comedy”
    • “The Mailman”
  • Jules Taylor Miller of Decatur, Georgia
    • “Poetry Collections as Narratives: Organization and Ekphrasis in Natasha Trethewey’s ‘Domestic Work,’ Bellocq’s ‘Ophelia,’ ‘Native Guard’ and ‘Thrall’”
    • “The Country We Know”
  • Cierra Nicole Sherman of Woodville, Mississippi
    • “Trauma, Time and the Supernatural in the Novels of Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, Bernice L. McFadden and Jesmyn Ward”
    • “Esther June”
  • Wesley Randall Young of Cochran, Georgia
    • “Immersive Allegory in C.S. Lewis’s ‘Space Trilogy’”
    • “Reaching Sol”