Cindy Votruba at the Marshall Independent recently wrote a feature article about Tom, "Exploring His Imagination."
While I was a graduate student working on my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato, Tom was also earning his MFA. I've always been impressed with Tom's fine writing, and it's an honor to be able to invite him to read at SMSU and meet with our creative writing students.
This afternoon Tom gave a terrific presentation about writing as the keynote speaker for the 9th Annual Creative Writing Contest Awards Ceremony co-sponsored by SMSU and the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative. It's one of my favorite annual events of the academic year. This contest was established as a partnership between SMSU's Creative Writing Program and the SW/WC Service Cooperative to encourage a love of language and writing for all students and as a way to recognize the talented young writers in southwest and west central Minnesota.
Students from 3rd to 12th grade submit their stories, poems and essays, then SMSU students serve as the first-tier judges, and our English faculty serve as the second-tier judges. Steve Pacheco judged fiction, Jim Zarzana judged non-fiction, and I judged poetry. I love meeting these students after reading their work, meeting their parents, and watching their excitement as they walk to the front of the room to receive their medal and pick up the Creating Spaces anthology with their published work.
Writing is a solitary activity, but it is fueled by community, by connection. By a sense that writing matters. As the Director of Creative Writing at SMSU, I thank all those parents, teachers, and writers who encourage and mentor young writers, who tell them to "keep writing, keep going." We need their words, stories and poems.