A New Mexico State University graduate student was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his title poem, “Wyoming,” in his collection of poetry titled “Wyoming: The next question to ask (to answer).”
Tyler Julian, NMSU master of fine arts student in creative writing, wrote his 92-page book of poems while he was at the University of Wyoming where he earned his bachelor’s degree. Finishing Line Press published his book in 2019.
Now in its 45th year, the Pushcart Prize takes nominations for the best poetry, short stories and essays from editors around the globe. It then publishes a selection from those nominated in the internationally recognized “Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses” anthology. It is a non-profit organization, created to recognize works published during the previous year by small presses and journals rather than big publishing houses.
Critics say Julian’s poems share with readers his experiences working on his family ranch and growing up in Wyoming mixed with universal themes of memories, mortality and more. His work is described as “postcards from an emotional and geographic frontier, a poignant, poetic and insightful look into the heart of a place and people.”
For Julian, the American West remains close to his heart. Not wanting to stray too far from Wyoming, he chose NMSU’s MFA program in the College of Arts and Sciences to take his next steps as a writer.
“I wanted to go somewhere new, wanted to stay kind of close to home, and now I’m still in the West! For me I was at a crossroads where ‘I’m either going to go to work on the ranch for the rest of my life or get this opportunity to write for three years and have it taken seriously.’ I was worried if I didn’t get this opportunity a lot of my dreams would fizzle out and that’s not what I wanted,” Julian said. “So, I made sure I was drafting this before I got into, or didn’t get into, a program.”
Soon after his book was published during his second year at NMSU, he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
“I actually saw it on Facebook first. Finishing Line Press posted it on their page. I immediately texted my friends and said ‘guess what!’ I was in such shock but it was so exciting. It’s a big prize and it’s an honor for people who are just starting out to even be nominated.”
Julian will graduate from NMSU in May and is in the process of drafting his next book, a novel titled “Rock Creek.” His short story, “The Storming World,” will appear in the South Dakota Review later this spring.
His novel is also Julian’s thesis project. Brandon Hobson, NMSU assistant professor of creative writing and fiction, gave him the support and guidance he needed as a writer.
“The novel started in this place where I was struggling with how to keep the pace and one of the first things Brandon did when I showed him was say ‘I think we need to restructure this.’ The second he did, it just opened it up instantly. So, that experience and mentorship is so important for me.”
Throughout his time as a student at NMSU and his experiences as a now published author, Julian has been able to share what he has learned with his peers and students he mentors as a graduate assistant.
“Those ideas and themes and what I’ve come to understand about storytelling are directly impacting my work now and the conversations I have with my classmates, my professors and especially my students. I can see my work has matured and even the way I think of writing. This has all helped me so much.”
Julian plans to become a professor after graduating from NMSU, allowing him to use what he’s learned to nurture other young writers.
“I can think back to one moment every semester where the faculty here has moved me or shaped me. I can cherry pick all these different things from all of them.”