Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA alumna named among Best New Poets of 2018

September 27, 2018 - University Marketing Communications
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Tennessee Hill, a recent Stephen F. Austin State University graduate, was recognized for her poem, "Stripling's Florist Pharmacy," in "Best New Poets of 2018," an annual anthology of 50 poems from emerging writers published by the University of Virginia Press.

The poem was included in Hill's senior thesis for her Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing. It was inspired by the Nacogdoches floral shop she passed daily on her way to class.

Hill, who is "over-the-moon happy" about this recognition, is the third SFA student to be featured in UVP's anthology. In 2013, alumna Jade Schlich was recognized, and in 2014, Jeremy Windham was featured.

Hill first discovered her love for poetry during her freshman year in Dr. Christine Butterworth-McDermott's introduction to creative writing class. Butterworth-McDermott, professor of English, recalled that Hill was focused on other writing genres, but she soon embraced the challenge.

"She had a knack for it," Butterworth-McDermott said, "and she became more and more excited about each poem she wrote. It became her passion, which was thrilling to see."

Hill said falling in love with poetry was a poetic journey in itself.

"Poetry was kind of my college sweetheart, meaning I instantly fell for it and chased after it wildly for years," Hill said. "Poetry challenges me to make the most out of a tiny space, to whittle a larger conversation down to the bare bones and still make it pretty."

Hill's ability to describe life is something Butterworth-McDermott believes sets her apart from other writers. "She has a very vivid way of describing things, and she uses original imagery and phrasing that make all her poems memorable," Butterworth-McDermott said.

Butterworth-McDermott also credits Hill's ability to "devour books" as another reason for the recognition. "That love of constantly taking in new ideas and of not being afraid of hard work are some reasons why I know we'll be seeing many more professional triumphs from her."

For more information about SFA's Department of English and Creative Writing, contact Dr. John A. McDermott, coordinator of creative writing, at mcdermotja@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-2344.