Alumna Receives 2019 Tulsa Artist Fellowship

Liz Blood ’08 received a 2019 Tulsa Artist Fellowship in Tulsa, OK, in January. Blood works as a freelance writer and an adjunct faculty member at Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth MFA program, where she teaches creative writing. She is also a 2018-2019 Oklahoma Art Writing and Curatorial Fellow and recently completed an interdisciplinary humanities research seminar at the University of Tulsa in Fall 2018. Originally from Oklahoma City, Blood earned an English degree with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Westminster. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT, in 2012. 

Keep reading to learn more about Blood’s professional life, her favorite Westminster memories, and what she does when she isn’t writing or teaching.

Please describe a typical day on the job for you. The thing I love about freelancing and having the Tulsa Artist Fellowship is that the days aren’t typical. But I do keep regular “office hours” writing or researching. I have one major client who hires me to write an arts and culture newsletter in Tulsa. If I’m spending most of the day working for them, that could mean visiting an art exhibition or artist’s studio, interviewing a musician, going to a concert, or trying a new restaurant. Other days, I spend time writing or revising my own personal work and projects.

Blood is pictured here at Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth MFA in Writing Faculty Reading.

What organizations outside of work are you involved in? I edit “Ekphrasis,” a column at Art Focus Oklahoma, found here in which I pair an Oklahoma visual artist with an Okie poet who responds to the visual work in verse. I started this column in the summer of 2014 and have published one in every issue since. I also serve as a contributing editor for Awst Press, a small, independent publishing house based in Austin whose mission is to promote diverse voices. For them, I help organize an annual essay and interview series and occasionally work book and press fairs.

How did your Westminster education help you find your purpose? Having an advisor (Dr. Collins!) and English professors who took seriously the business of writing and treated it as a profession like any other made me see that making it was possible. I also internalized the idea of being a “lifelong learner,” which was repeated at almost every turn at Westminster —something for which I’m very grateful. Advice and lessons from Dr. Collins, Dr. Zade, Dr. Perry, and Dr. Adams guide me to this day.

What is your favorite Westminster memory? The time I had access to the all-student email list because I was president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society. We hosted readings, and attendance was often low. To get our little club more attention, I sent out an email with the subject line “***STD ALERT***” and in the body of the email cordially invited all students to the Sigma Tau Delta (STD) reading that week. It worked.

Which of your achievements are you most proud of? I’m most proud of my personal relationships with friends, family, and my husband. I don’t know who I’d be or where I’d be without them.

Would you recommend Westminster to prospective college students? So long as Westminster is dedicated to giving its students a liberal arts education, yes! I loved the small, beautiful campus and the small classes. I appreciated the attention from professors and their accessibility. I received a well-rounded education because of the liberal arts emphasis. Not only did I take classes in English, but in chemistry (ouch), anthropology, marketing, and religion. And I appreciated having all different kinds of students to learn from in my classes: international students, students from rural areas, and those big city St. Louis folk.

Spouse’s name and occupation: Will Eagleton ’08 ΣΧ, Sourcing and Procurement Manager at Helmerich & Payne.

Favorite Westminster faculty member? An impossible choice! I loved having classes with Dr. Wayne Zade (on poetry and beatniks), Dr. David Collins (on creative nonfiction and writers in Paris), Dr. Theresa Adams (on expository writing and detective & crime fiction), Dr. Bill Young (on world religions and Native American spirituality).  

Favorite spot on campus? Outside: The Hill. Inside: the Mac lab in the library. 

Last book you read, or a book you would recommend to others? There There by Tommy Orange is the last novel I read, and I’d definitely recommend it. My favorite novel of all time, so far, is The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. As for poetry and nonfiction, there are too many to name. 

Do you have a favorite quote? “There never was a war that was not inward.” — Marianne Moore, from her poem “In Distrust of Merits.”  

Favorite movie/TV show? Schitt’s Creek on Netflix! Also True Detective, season one; Crashing; High Maintenance; Westworld; and South Park circa 2004-2008, when I was at Westmo.

What do you do in your free time? I rock climb, read, watch TV, cook, go look at art or listen to live music, spend time with friends, travel, pat my dog on the head, and nap. 

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.