North Texas Daily

Writing on the Brain: Graduate student brings scientific eye to literary journal

Writing on the Brain: Graduate student brings scientific eye to literary journal

June 14
08:59 2013

Carina Aquino/Intern

When it comes to gender stereotypes, female poets tend to be perceived as three things: romantics, suicidal princesses of the dark literary arts or as mellow non-conformists with free spirits and loose morals.

Jenny Molberg, an English graduate student, breaks through those with her passion for writing and her enthusiasm in the scientific world.

“I’ve always been interested in science and writing about science,” Molberg said.

Molberg’s fascination with the subject originated at an early age. She was influenced by the discovery of her father’s career – pathology.

While visiting him at his work place when she was a child, Molberg caught sight of an amputated leg. After that, Jenny was hooked, curious about her father’s world and what he did for a living.

She marveled at how her father viewed the world with a sense of scientific wonder.

“Sometimes I even think now, ‘Hm, maybe I should have gone to medical school or something,’” Molberg said. “It was just that in school, growing up, I was so much better at languages and art and all that right brain stuff. I wasn’t very good at math, so I always just thought that was off the table.”

In order to stay connected with the love she has for science, Molberg continues to read old publications and listen to podcasts that pertain to the subject. Reading the past discoveries of scientists helps her channel both sides of her brain – the logical and the creative – and apply it to her writing.

“I feel like even though they are two separate parts of the brain, they’re both about discovery and curiosity,” Molberg said. “You’re always trying to find out what the meaning of something is or why something is the way it is. You’re always looking at like, smaller and smaller and smaller things to try and get a truth or a discovery or something like that.”

Although Molberg has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember, it wasn’t until high school that she really took interest in the subject.

“We had this literary festival at my high school that would bring in poets and we’d have workshops,” Molberg said. “It was kind of a big deal and they still do it.”

Her passion for creativity didn’t stop at writing. She took on art and photography to broaden her spectrum of creativity, though she confessed that she “wasn’t very good.”

When she went off to college at Louisiana State University, Molberg went into the journalism program. She had the opportunity to work on the school paper – The Daily Reveille – shortly before losing her position on the staff.

“They told me I was too curious, or that I asked too many questions or something,” Molberg said. “Then I was like ‘Hmm, what can I do?’ So I changed my major to creative writing and I just kept going with it.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree at LSU and her master’s degree at American University, Molberg decided to work toward her PhD at UNT in 2011.

Being new on the campus and to the Denton area, Jenny decided she wanted to become as involved as she possibly could, so she joined The American Literary Review staff.

ALR is an academic journal of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, published by the creative writing program in the Department of English at UNT.

Molberg has been on the ALR staff for three years and has had several titles including poetry contest coordinator, assistant poetry editor and, as of this Fall, managing editor.

Even though Molberg’s new position requires her to monitor the staff and the content of the journal, she feels more excited than nervous.

“Jenny’s got a really good eye and a really good ear for really great poetry,” ALR Reviews Editor Trista Edwards said. “When she reads it, she really reads it and critiques very, very well. I think she’s going to have a good eye for selecting good work.”

The staff is not the only thing that’s changing this year for ALR. The journal, which has been in print since its first publication in 1990, is converting to online.

Even though the site is still under construction, ALR Productions Editor Caitlin Cowen has faith Molberg will be able to help the staff adjust to the change with her new position.

“It’s going to be a lot of hard work transitioning from a print journal to an online journal this year,” Cowen said. “I think she’ll be really good at keeping everybody grounded, but still making sure that we’re all motivated and passionate the way she is about working on something.”

Molberg is currently working on a book of poems to publish. Although she admits that it has been “a little stressful,” she doesn’t ever see herself losing passion from what she loves most – poetry.

“A lot of writers will say ‘I have to write poems.’ But, I sort of feel that way too,” Molberg said. “Because I feel like it’s something I have to do.”

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