VCCA Awards Messenger Fellowship

Carrie Messenger, assistant professor of English and creative writing, has been awarded a fellowship by the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts (VCCA).

Messenger, who has taught at Shepherd since 2010, will be leaving for the VCAA facility right after commencement for a three-week stay. The terms of the fellowship include free room and board, three meals a day and private studios in which the writers, artists and composers can work.

She will be working on at least three short stories that fall into the speculative genre. Messenger already has the plots for her stories outlined. One story will focus on the disappearance of a group of children in Argentina, another on the famines of the 1920s in Ukraine and the third will deal with a pastry chef who believes pastries to be too edgy for everyday people who then takes his baking operation underground.

Chris Ames, the vice president of academic affairs, believes the fellowship to not only be a great opportunity for Messenger but also for her students. In a statement to The Picket, he asserts: “Students benefit from the research, scholarly and creative work that faculty engage in.” He also noted that having professors who receive awards and fellowships “only enhance[s] [the level of] recognition for Shepherd University.”

Betty Ellzey, professor of English and chair of the department of English and modern languages, said of Messenger’s selection: “Dr. Messenger’s acceptance for the highly competitive residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts is a confirmation of her exceptional work—short stories, translations and creative non-fiction.”

Messenger asserts having three weeks of uninterrupted time to simply write will be a productive and rewarding experience. She acknowledged that having two small children at home can offer pleasant distractions but distractions nonetheless.

Although she hasn’t visited the facility yet, she has corresponded with other writers and artists who have engaged in this and other fellowships. Messenger further indicated that one of the major advantages of a program like the VCCA is the ability to meet with other writers, artists and musicians and to discuss their work.

Brendan Darby, a junior English major, offered praise for Messenger’s teaching style: “[H]er excellence as a creative writing instructor…leaves no doubt in my mind that she deserves this award.”

Messenger says she is looking forward to her time at the VCAA facility and believes it will offer a high level of productivity.

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