Why I Write Wednesday: IUWC Participant Britton Shurley


Growing up, IUWC 2018 participant Britton Shurley loved to read. He developed a love for writing after a creative writing course at Davidson University as an undergraduate. He once believed that fiction was the genre to pursue, but poetry stole his heart. At the end of his undergrad years, Britton knew he wanted to write professionally. He later graduated from IU’s MFA program—an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.

Since graduating from IU, Britton has published his poetry in journals such as Southern Humanities Review, Sydney Poetry Review, and Southern Indiana Review. Additionally, he has recently published the chapbook Spinning the Vast Fantastic. He now spends his time as an Associate Professor of English at West Kentucky Community & Technical College in Paducah, Kentucky with his wife (and fellow poet!) and two children.

Britton writes to stay sane. For him, “writing is a great way to process different things the world throws at you—a way to focus on the smaller things that you might not pay attention to.” When he writes, Britton becomes “a little more attune to the world around [him].” It reminds him to stay focused on what really matters.

When asked who some of his biggest writing inspirations are, Britton notes poets such as Steve Scafidi, Maggie Smith, and Maurice Manning. Additionally, past IUWC faculty such as Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Ross Gay inspire his work as well.

Since attending two of IU’s writers’ conferences, Britton has grown tremendously. With a young family and a full-time job, it can be hard to find quality time to devote to writing. Britton refers to IUWC as “a camp for grownups,” and it gives him a week to simply spend time thinking about his craft. He enjoys finding fellowship with others who love to write. Britton shares that it can be hard to find like-minded friends after leaving a tight-knit group in grad school, but writers’ conferences bring these people together.