Name: Benjamin Bush
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
Type of Fulbright Award: Fulbright Study/Research Award
Degree and Field of Study: M.F.A., Creative Writing, 2016
Research/Teaching: During my year in Bulgaria, I’ll be writing and researching a novel, teaching a fiction-writing course at Sofia University, and coordinating an informal workshop for Bulgarian translators working into English.
What drew you to this field of study? I received a Sozopol Fiction Fellowship, which brought me to Bulgaria for a series of workshops, lectures, and panel discussion with both English-language and Bulgarian writers. I was fascinated by the people I met and their deep knowledge of the country’s history. Novelist Josh Weil, who gave a lecture at the event, told me about his time as a Fulbright in Egypt many years earlier and his remarks planted the idea in my mind that the Fulbright was something I might pursue. I have a long-standing interest in exploring, in my fiction, international trade and cross-cultural interaction and, in Bulgaria, I became interested in its position historically and culturally at the three-way intersection between Russian, Turkish and European influences.
How do you envision this will change your life? First of all, I hope to be a strong support for writers, translators, and publishers in Bulgaria in terms of having their work published more broadly, particularly in English-language publications. As a language with a small number of speakers, Bulgarian literature has to engage logistically with hurdles that American writers have rarely had to encounter.
My experience has been that living outside the US, even for short periods of time, causes one to see all kinds of things differently. I hope, after my time there, to have both a near-ready draft of a novel and a meaningful understanding of a culture outside my own—no small thing!
What advice do you have for future students interested in pursuing a Fulbright award? What advice do you have for future students interested in pursuing a Fulbright award? Give yourself enough time before the deadline to make use of the university's excellent resources. Karen Wachsmuth was an invaluable help in revising my application. Also, do what you can to establish real connections in the country before you apply and to read up on its history, literature, and current circumstances. In preparing my application, I read books by Bulgarian writers Kapka Kassabova, Georgi Gospodinov, and Angel Igov. Their work helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the culture.