The Georgia Poetry Circuit is starting this semester and planning to visit ABAC not once, but twice. Award winning poet and author Adrian Matejka is the first on the list to visit ABAC as a part of the poetry tour.
Matejka was born in Nuremberg, Germany but grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University and the Masters of Fine Arts program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Matejka has an extensive book and poetry collection including “The Devil’s Garden” (2003), “Mixology” (2009) and “The Big Smoke” (2013). His most recent book, “Map to the Stars,” was published in 2017.
Matejka has been honored and awarded for his books and poetry. He won the 2008 National Poetry Series for Mixology and the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for “The Big Smoke.” “The Big Smoke” was also the finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.
Some of Matejka’s other honors include the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, the Julia Peterkin Award, a Pushcart Prize and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists.
Now, Matejka teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington and is also Poet Laureate of Indiana.
Adrian Matejka will be speaking and reading some of his works on Monday, Feb. 4 starting at 7 p.m., in Tift Hall. Admission to the reading is free and Matejka will be answering questions about his life and his works. For any questions about Adrian Matejka, Georgia Poetry Circuit or the event, you can contact Arts Connection Director, Wayne Jones at wpjones@abac. edu firstname.lastname@example.org.
For student editors, Thursday nights in the 2000s were spent on the third floor of the Branch Student Center. The small room that housed The Stallion newspaper was filled with the sound of keyboard keys clicking and editors rushing to layout the paper out for publishing. The managing editor and advisor, Dr. Eric Cash, would spend layout nights at the office.
On those nights, his wife would be labeled as “The Stallion widow”. What once was a joke, has now become bittersweet.
Cash arrived at ABAC in 1999 alongside his wife, Erin Campbell. Some students saw him as just another professor, but for other students, Cash changed their life.
“He completely changed the way that the students experienced the journalism program at ABAC. He was constantly trying to improve the student media department and the program to give the students as much real-world experience as possible,” said Campbell.
Before his arrival, the program was advised by Helen Strickland. Their styles differed immensely. Strickland was very hands-on with the newspaper, whereas Cash let the students have supervised free-reign. Strickland was also strictly print journalism, while Cash was multimedia journalism. He created ABAC student media; which included WPLH radio station, The Stallion newspaper, Pegasus Literary Magazine and Stallion TV.
“He created television broadcasting at ABAC. Without him, our broadcasting program probably wouldn’t exist today,” Campbell said.
Upon his arrival, The Stallion was run solely by three students: the editor, Janet Heard, and two reporters, Christy Day and Bo Moore. The newspaper flourished under his advisement and the next semester, they welcomed seven new members. In 2004, Cash hired the first African American editor in ABAC’s history, Larius Johnson. Making history at ABAC is only one of his many accomplishments.
“He would have said that his biggest achievements were what his students accomplished. How they took a monthly paper and turned it into a weekly paper. They wrote their own stories, they learned how to do investigative reporting and they were the ones who earned the awards. That’s what he would tell you, honestly,” said Campbell.
The Stallion has a long legacy of earning many awards, beating out many top colleges and universities in the nation. Past co-editors, J.D. Sumner and John Rodman, reflected on the awards that the newspaper received.
“The newspaper, for a number of years, before I arrived and after I left, consistently won the best newspaper in the division. It’s all about the quality of the program, not the size of the school,” Rodman said.
Sumner and Rodman won many individual awards, including photography and news writing. The greatest award that they earned was the General Excellence for the paper.
“You’re grateful for the individual awards, but you realize that you’re carrying on a legacy and that in the general excellence piece means that the paper as a whole is doing things that are innovative and that are elevating the art of journalism. At the end of the day, it wasn’t all about the awards. It was about making sure that we were growing as students and that we were telling the stories that needed to be told,” said Sumner.
Cash also earned an award that stuck out to Campbell, “He won the Wilson C. Scott Award for Excellence in Scholastic Journalism at Savannah State University. Our daughter was almost two and we went to Savannah to get the award. We have this picture of her where she’s on the bed in the hotel room, she’s holding the award and it’s like half the size that she is.”
The Stallion faced many hardships during Cash’s advisement when it was labeled as a “club”. They had to present their case to the Student Government Association (SGA), where they documented their expenses, budgets and membership growth. Some years they would get the funding that they asked for, but others they struggled to make ends meet. Their only hardships weren’t just with the SGA, but also employees who didn’t understand the need for journalism.
“The president of the college at the time, Dr. Harold Loyd, wanted to shut down the controversial stories about the college. Eric refused to do that. He would, out of courtesy, let the president’s office know what was coming. He refused to censor or not run a story. The stories were never contentious, they reported facts. Eric wouldn’t allow his students to not be able to report the news,” Campbell said.
The Cash family received the best news on April 7th of 2010, they were pregnant with their second child. Exactly one month later, following the best news was the worst, Cash was diagnosed with stage-four inoperable lung cancer. Tragedy struck their family when Dr. Eric Cash passed away in his home on December 18th of 2010; leaving behind his wife, their four-year-old daughter and five-week-old son.
Campbell discussed why she believes that he’s an inspiration, “He was a first-generation college student. He had a B.A. in Anthropology, a Master’s in Journalism, a Master’s in English, an education specialist degree and a Ph.D. That’s four advanced degrees. He wrote his Journalism thesis and his Ph.D. dissertation while teaching English and Journalism full-time for ABAC. In addition, he started the scholarly journal, which he edited and published, The Undying Fire: The Journal of the H.G. Wells Society of the Americas. I believe that he’s a role model. He always said that student loans are an investment in your future.”
Cash’s legacy lives on at ABAC and through the many students and faculty members that he left an impression on.
“I would say that Dr. Cash was the primary mentor that gave me the most tools. I used his teachings throughout my time in law school and today while writing legal briefs. He’s the person that I remember as the most impactful professor that I’ve ever had, but more importantly, he was a great friend. He continued to give me advice in my career, my personal life and advancement after I graduated,” said Rodman, “In the years since he passed, I can’t tell you how many times that I have come across, especially in today’s world, media and journalism being under attack. I wish that I could just have a conversation with him about that. I really miss those conversations.”
Sumner also expressed how Cash had influenced his life, “The biggest learning experience was looking at his life after I left ABAC. Friending him on Facebook and following what the paper was doing and what was happening around ABAC. How he dealt with being sick and how he managed that while being a dad. It has nothing to do with the journalism end of it, but it has everything to do with being a good person.”
Campbell ended the interview with, “He was such an advocate for the students. Having them well educated and giving them real-world experience, not just education, but that real life stuff that you can’t define. He was always professional and he cultivated many close relationships with his students. He changed journalism as ABAC had known it. What we have now is because of the groundwork that he laid.”
Campbell has established a memorial scholarship in his honor, the Eric W. Cash Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is available for Writing and Communication majors, ideally first-generation college students. The funding began with few donations, most notably from Cash’s dissertation director and friend, Dr. David Galef.
Campbell said, “According to the previous dean of Arts and Sciences, Johnny Evans, this scholarship will be endowed so that this part of Eric’s legacy also continues. He really believed that education can, and would, change the world.”
Photographer Kamia McWilliams has developed a new body of work specifically for her show at Fitzgerald’s historic Carnegie Center titled, “Aisha: She Who Lives.” The exhibit opening reception is Saturday, December 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The portrait series is a contemporary twist on traditional African style. There will be six poster sized dynamic and colorful portraits on display as well as smaller prints. The prints were created through a partnership between the library at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, McWilliams and the Fitzgerald Ben Hill Arts Council.
In the summer, McWilliams reached out to the Arts Council, interested in becoming a member. But when newly hired Arts Coordinator Shelby Evans saw her work, she knew she had to see if she wanted to exhibit her photography.
“When I saw Kamia’s work, I knew that she was an artist,” said Evans. “The arts council exists to provide opportunities for local artists of all mediums. We’re excited to host her work. This will be a wonderful exhibit for our community and region.”
McWilliams has actively used her art to draw attention to the struggles she and her loved ones face. In one series titled “I’m depressed, not defeated,” she photographed young women who battle depression and interviewed them about their experiences.
“Both women touched my heart and also gave me hope when it came to my personal experience with depression,” she wrote.
In another, she took portraits of her stepfather and his extensive scars. Milton Magwood experienced serious burns after an explosion at his job. His primary concern was his coworkers, and didn’t know how severe the burns were until he arrived at the hospital. He underwent nearly 40 surgeries. McWilliams photographed him shirtless, exposing the scars across his body. But Magwood did not look weak in the portraits, instead he flexed his arms, showing his strength.
In addition to six previously unseen portraits by McWilliams, she has also produced a poetry book in conjunction with her show.
“These pieces of poetry were influenced by African American culture, motherhood as a black woman and inner battles that African American women face,” wrote McWilliams in a recent blog post.
She will be signing copies of her book and selling them at the opening reception.
“I wrote poems pertaining to my own personal experiences as far as depression, dealing with the death of my father and my opinion on black lives matter. I strongly believe these poems stand out the most because of the emotions that were behind them as I wrote them,” she wrote.
In addition to running her photography business, which recently opened a studio in downtown Fitzgerald, McWilliams is also a 911 operator in Tifton, GA. Her husband, Sable McWilliams, has produced his own modern take on African music for the exhibit.
Her prints will be for sale at the exhibit opening as will her poetry book. The reception is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will be on display for two months. The Carnegie Center is located 120 S Lee St in Fitzgerald, GA.
For eight years students at ABAC have put together a food giveaway for families of Tifton, Manna Drop. The first car arrived at Charles Spencer Elementary School at 4:30 a.m. While cars started to wrap around the school, a line of walk-ups began.
A total of 400 bags filled with a five-pound ham, cornbread mix, rice, canned green beans and canned corn. 400 bags were given to vehicles while the other 100 are given out to people directly.
The event was coordinated by five students of ABAC: Lane Riley, Loren Lindler, Jonathan Kroner, Landon Rowe and Cheyenne Colson. They worked throughout the year to get donations. Four-year Manna Drop veteran Lane Riley, says, “around $9,000 are spent by local businesses for the event.”
Students coordinate with business to get donations and volunteers. They work with the Charles Spencer Administration, as well as Tifton Police to organize people and vehicles.
The group is considered a club on ABAC’s campus. Manna Drop advisor, Dr. Tom Grant said, “they work hard every year to bring this all to fruition. They are the ones reaching out to people and getting the word spread.”
The Manna Drop orders food through Publix who also donates the reusable bags that are given to recipients. Colson helped to get ABAC’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries to send volunteers to distribute bags. A total of 17 volunteers including ABAC faculty and students worked the event. Students partnered with Ameris Bank to host a can drive in their business which was added to the bags.
The event was set to start at 10 a.m., but due to the long line of cars accumulating, distribution began early around 9:15 a.m. The 100 walk up bags were all gone within the first 30 minutes. A group of five volunteers including Colson, handed out the bags while wishing every person a “Happy Thanksgiving.” “These things are really important for the community, it’s just a good way to spread a little love for the holidays. A lot of people are thankful we can help them out,” said Colson.
After only an hour and 15 minutes, all 400 bags had been given away. Lindler was counting vehicles and helping to direct traffic during the event. “This is my first year helping out with it, but I was amazed at how many people were getting through the line,” she said.
The group was not surprised by the number of people who were ready for the event. Following the events of Hurricane Michael, more people in Tifton need help for the holidays. “We knew that this was going to be a successful year, Hurricane Michael caused a lot of damage that still isn’t fully repaired,” said Lindler. Once the final bag had been given out, Lindler had to solemnly turn hopeful cars away.
Riley plans to continue Manna Drop next year, “we want to try and get more meals next year, we had a harder time fundraising this year. This is the first year we actually decreased in the number of meals given away.” If you would like to help with the 2019 Manna Drop contact Riley at his email, email@example.com.
Vogue Fashion, TJ Maxx Macarons, and witty sarcasm come to mind when Hailey Glover and Teddi Pope remember their friend Chandler Brock Kuck. “He [Kuck] was one of the smartest students on campus,” Glover said. Pope added, “he just had a different way of showing people who he really was, and there was something special about that.”
On Nov. 27, Kuck was on his way home from Albany when his vehicle lost control on the road. Family and friends of Brock were notified that he didn’t survive the crash. Posts started flooding in on Kuck’s Facebook page after a family member posted the devasting news. Mary Harper, English and Communications Lecturer at ABAC posted on Kuck’s timeline saying, “Chandler Kuck was one of those students who you only meet once maybe twice in your career.” Kuck studied a track in history and political science, and faculty from the rural studies program adored his presence in the classroom.
Kuck was a key role to most class discussions in the upper-level history classes he took. If the classroom fell silent after a professor asked a question, Kuck was always there to save the class with a well-thought-out response. “He would legit be the only student answering the questions some days, and when he wasn’t in class, we really had to pick up a lot of his slack,” said Pope.
Kuck was known for walking into class with a fashion magazine. His favorite magazine was Vogue. Fashion was one of Brock’s interests growing up. “He always would look at everyone’s outfit and judged people’s wardrobe choices,” said Pope. “Not in a mean way, however, he couldn’t help that he had an eye for what looks good and what doesn’t.” Kuck liked wearing colorful shirts with different patterns and he wore loafers daily.
It didn’t take long for teachers at ABAC to realize Kuck’s intelligence when he registered for classes. He would come to school with a bag filled with books, but he never purchased the books required for a class. Kuck was an avid reader and a true history lover. “He was filled with random facts that you would think weren’t relevant,” Glover remembered. “It was funny because every time he [Kuck] hit us with a random fact, it always came up later in a class discussion.”
Kuck went on a class trip to the Swan House in Atlanta with Elizabeth Medley, Assistant Professor of History and Political Science. The Swan House is a 1,000,000 square ft. mansion located in Buckhead once belonging to Edward Inman, a wealthy cotton broker in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The house was acquired by the Atlanta Historical Society and serves as part of the Atlanta History Center. The first time Brock ever visited the Swan House, he fell in love with the design and its historical furniture and decorations. “He never stopped talking about the Swan House after that field trip,” remembered Pope.
The ABAC atmosphere gave Kuck a place where he was surrounded by intellectual people and a place where he could be himself. He kept his ABAC friends separate from his family and hometown friends. “There was never anything wrong with Chandler keeping us separate,” said Pope. “He had to act differently around his family than us. Would you act the same around your best friend as you would around somebody like your father?” Kuck was able to better discover himself emotionally and politically during his time at ABAC.
Anybody that knew Kuck well, knew that he enjoyed discussing politics. His political views didn’t always align with his family’s, but he didn’t hide his beliefs. Kuck formed his political opinions from constantly reading at a young age. He did his own studying without a teacher assigning homework. Kuck had a desire to learn and a love for education.
Macarons were a favorite snack for Kuck. He routinely stopped at TJ Maxx to purchase them. “We would just be sitting there hanging out and out of nowhere Chandler just pulls out a sleeve of macarons from TJ Maxx,” Glover said. Glover and Pope had a long laugh after remembering the day they found champagne flavored macarons at a store. What started off sounding like a great combination of flavor turned out to be unappealing after the friends tried the unique tasting dessert.
Kuck is remembered on campus for his brilliance and his eccentric personality. Glover and Pope agreed that it’s best to focus on all the positives from Kuck’s life. “Instead of feeling sad, we need to remember the fun times and the things we learned hanging out with Chandler,” said Pope. Kuck is dearly loved and missed by his family and friends.