Rebecca Balcarcel

Who’s better to teach future creative writers, Joe Schmoe with an English degree, or a published poet?

NE creative writing instructor Rebecca Balcarcel wound up being both, but she was the latter long before the former.

“It’s about 10 years worth of work,” Balcarcel said of her book Palabras in Each Fist.

Palabras is the Spanish word for words, and the cover displays two fists, one clenching a page from an English dictionary and the other a page from a Spanish dictionary.

Balcarcel’s first published piece was in Under the Clock Tower when she was a student in the early ’90s. After getting about a dozen pieces published in various journals, Balcarcel applied for a masters of fine arts program but was rejected.

She persisted, joining a writers group and producing and critiquing more work. She also had a better idea of what to write on in her application, and only six months later was accepted into the same program.

“I not only got accepted, but I was distinguished by being one of only two students who got a scholarship,” she said.

Balcarcel’s book is the product of what she learned in the MFA program, and she uses that experience to teach her students writing.

“Maybe half the book is poems I wrote in the MFA program,” she said.

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