Creative writing professors shine both on and off campus
Recognition for literary work can be difficult to attain. On top of competing with other authors, entries and, at times, subjective judges – UWL English professors William Stobb and Matt Cashion somehow find time around full teaching schedules to produce award-winning literature.
“Sometimes it could be 15 minutes at the beginning of an office hour,” Stobb laughs. “That’s the nice thing about poetry. 15 minutes could be valuable.”
The two professors both teach and practice creative writing. Stobb primarily writes poetry while Cashion focuses on fiction. Both feature humor, sadness and relatability. Stobb estimates he’s written well over 1,000 poems. Cashion’s work ethic mirrors, writing countless short stories, novels and even dabbing into poetry himself.
“It’s very important to me while I’m teaching creative writing to also be a creative writer,” explains Cashion. “I tell my students the best way to improve their writing is to keep writing. I don’t want to tell them to write every day if I’m not also writing.”
Both Stobb and Cashion have received regional and national awards. In 2017, Cashion’s novel, “Our 13th Divorce,” was recognized with the Edna Ferber Fiction Award – given to the top fiction book annually by a Wisconsin author. This fall, a collection of Stobb’s poems, titled “You Are Still Alive,” was published after winning a national competition held by Indiana-based publisher, 42 Miles Press.
“The biggest thing to me is to be read and read well,” says Stobb. “When your work wins an award, it means that somebody who read it, got it. It really got across to them.”
Outside their personal accomplishments and when they’re not pitted against each other by a baseball rivalry between Cashion’s Atlanta Braves and Stobb’s Minnesota Twins, the duo works together to build the English Department’s creative writing minor.
Along with designing new courses, Stobb and Cashion also oversee two student-run publications. Stobb works on the bi-annual published magazine “The Catalyst,” which features UWL students’ writings and art. Cashion focuses on “Steam Ticket: a Third Coast Review,” an annually published, nationally-distributed journal that accepts submissions of poetry, fiction and non-fiction from authors around the world.
“We have a good creative-writing program,” Cashion continues. “A lot of students are interested in writing and self-expression and in learning the craft that allows them to get better. I feel fortunate that we’re able to provide that.”
Stobb and Cashion don’t have plans on giving up writing or seeking recognition for their work any time soon. Both operate and update their own author websites. They can be found at: www.williamstobb.net and www.mattcashion.com.
“When students come to UWL, they’re working with professors whose work competes at the national level,” says Stobb. “Students can feel like they’re getting a great value out of their education.”
William Stobb’s notable works
-“You Are Still Alive,” poetry collection
-“Nervous Systems,” poetry collection
-“All the Bodies,” short story
Matt Cashion’s notable works
-“Our 13th Divorce,” novel
-“Last Words of the Holy Ghost,” short story collection
-“How the Sun Shines on Noise,” novel