Lou Abbey, DMD, MS (PATHOLOGY) (MFA Creative Writing ‘95/H&S) began his career at VCU in 1971 as an Assistant Professor in the School of Dentistry Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. As a junior faculty member, he was ambitious and hardworking and spent his early career in Richmond studying and completing board certification. Eventually though, a deep interest in literary arts and a friendship with Greg Donovan, Professor in the Department of English, led Lou to enroll in the Creative Writing program on the Monroe Park campus and earn his MFA.
Lou had always devoted a part of his free time to writing. He describes a surprising volume of diary and journal entries as well as works of short fiction and poetry that he penned over the years. Enrolling in the Creative Writing program meant more structured and focused energy and time on writing. While continuing his work on the MCV campus, he balanced evening classes toward his MFA over the course of three years. “The students and faculty I met and worked with in pursuit of the MFA were a life source for me and enhanced my primary teaching responsibilities in the School of Dentistry.” As he completed his coursework, he immersed himself in the incredible community of writers and honed his writing, critique and editing skills. “What the program taught me is what an enormous task writing is.” He said that the program taught him a great deal about trusting himself in making decisions with his work, how to develop an idea, and how to be a contributing and constructive member of a writing community. “The program gave me the space to learn and trust the skills I was building. It was a marvelous education.”
The time Lou spent on this creative outlet grew his love for the university and its community. “My growth as a parent, teacher, researcher and participant in the activities of the wider university through committees was both encouraged and aided by the university community.” Though Lou has left the Richmond area, he has taken the lessons of the Creative Writing program with him—he is a contributing member of a group of about a dozen writers that meets every other week. They rotate sharing work and openly workshop and critique. “To the present day, VCU and my experiences as a faculty member, student and graduate are still with me. And, I still continue writing both poetry and short fiction and have published poems and short stories in literary magazines, both hard copy and on-line.”
Written by Caitlin Hanbury