Thursday March 7, 2013 – 10:56 pm
Posted by Dan
Last Friday, I received a phone call from a good friend. Up until yesterday, it had been a super secret phone call.
The phone call was from Matt Miller, a fellow counselor of mine at the Reynolds Writing Workshop.
I met Matt when we were both students at Denison. Despite our vastly differing college football allegiances, we bonded quickly. I’d never met anyone like Matt. He processed his thoughts quickly, but never spoke until he knew exactly what he wanted to say. I tended to let the first words that popped into my oversized head fall from my mouth without any kind of thought. Somehow, we became friends.
The first night we spent any time together, we went to see a writer named Jim Daniels read in downtown Columbus. We talked a lot about writing, about what we try to do with our work. It’s funny to me, because I have no idea how we explained anything to each other. Now, I feel like it has to be almost annoying to listen to us talk. We’ve picked up so many of each other’s mannerisms, that I imagine that we come off as brothers that are only concerned with what each other has to say.
Matt is a special guy. He’s a Reynolds lifer – he attended as a high school student, became a counselor as a student at Denison University, and still stumbles back to Granville every summer. I’ve been a counselor at Reynolds for the past four years, and I can’t imagine it without Matt.
Back to that phone call. On Friday night, I answered the phone, and heard a giggling Matt on the line. Whenever you hear a 25 year old man giggling uncontrollably, you know there’s good news to follow.
Matt told me that he’d just received a phone call from one of his heroes, Eavan Boland. She informed Matt that he’d been awarded a prestigious Stegner Fellowship, something almost every young poet in the country aspires to have. Matt will be heading to California in the fall, and will be a resident scholar at Stanford University for the next couple of years. I couldn’t be prouder of my dear friend.
Matt let me know on Wednesday of this week that his gag order had been lifted, and we were free to toast him publically about his incredible achievement. I wanted to share my friend’s wonderful news with you, our Reynolds family.
I’m not writing this post here to brag for Matt or brag for the program either. I’m writing this post for two reasons.
First of all, I want you all to know something about the Reynolds culture. In a competitive world, Reynolds offers writers a chance to come together and learn from each other. I’m sure Matt would tell you, just like the rest of us would, that being around our fellow staff members and our incredible campers has made us better writers. Every summer, I improve my work immensely in our week together. Members of our Reynolds family go on to do incredible things, and as a family, we have the opportunity to celebrate them together. It’s truly a wonderful thing.
Second, I want to congratulate my good friend publicly for what he’s accomplished. I wouldn’t be half the writer I am without his help, and I wouldn’t be half the man I am without his friendship.
A mighty cheers to Reynolds’ own Matt Miller.