BY: KAYLA LASURE
The Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern has created the fourth issue of the graduate student–produced literary journal, Jelly Bucket.
Russel Helm, the managing editor for Jelly Bucket, said the book’s title came from an old coal miners slang term for “lunch pail.”
“Kentucky has been pretty known for coal mining,” Helm said. “The name was created to give a nod to the region of Kentucky.”
Jelly Bucket features works of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction submitted from people all over the world.
Not only does the book pay tribute to literary art, but it also displays visual art as well. The cover of the book and a one, eight-page color insert within the book honor visual art.
“The cover artist is Brian Dettmer, an artist that takes books, pastes them together and then carves into them to make neat sculptures,” Helm said. “His work is displayed all over the world, and I asked him if I could showcase his artwork in our book.”
Jelly Bucket is produced by The Bluegrass Writers Studio in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Program at Eastern.
The MFA program is for students interested in writing novels, stories, poetry, plays and other forms of art. Students can apply and then be chosen by the directors of the department to be editors of Jelly Bucket. Editors for each section of literary work category displayed in the book collectively pick and choose from the works submitted to them.
“All of our submissions are done online,” Helm said. “This is because we have people that submit stuff from places such as Poland, the Philippines, Italy, Thailand, Niagara, Canada, different parts of the United States, etc.”
Continuing with the uniqueness of the book, Jelly Bucket features works written in different languages, and then the book translates it into English on the corresponding page.
“This gives people a chance to see how it’s originally written, and gives the book more character,” said Bill Mullen, the fiction editor of previous issue of Jelly Bucket and now Eastern faculty member.
Mullen said no one issue of Jelly Bucket is better than the others because each stands out on its own. He also said he had an overall positive experience in the MFA program and helping with the previous issue of the book.
“MFA is good because it introduces the students to great literature and focus’ on the literature from a writer’s standpoint instead of just a reader’s standpoint,” Mullen said. “Not only are the students learning how to write, but learning how to judge literature, and make key connections. They get to see who’s publishing, what’s hot at the moment and really be in the writing world.”
Mullen also said classes in the MFA program are small, about eight or 10 people in each class. He said it allows professors get to know the students on a personal level and gives each student the ability to feel like their voice is heard.
Mullen said he thinks the program is fairly successful in helping the students achieve their dreams and become better writers.
“Faculty are straight forward and honest,” Mullen said. “I like that they will tell you If something works or not. You don’t want things sugar coated about your work, you want the truth. They’ll help you and tell you how to make it better.”
MFA produces a newsletter once every four or five months. Mullen said he hasn’t seen a newsletter yet that doesn’t highlight the success of a student for producing a new novel or other literary work.
Jelly Bucket seems to be only one of many good aspects the MFA program is doing for Eastern’s campus.
Helm said he recommends for anyone who picks up Jelly Bucket to read the creative nonfiction work called “Chocolate Water Running Down Her Legs” by Adriana Paramo.
Jelly Bucket, Helm said, can be purchased at any Barnes and Noble store and Hasting’s.