While Franklin College alumna Samantha Fain was a creative writing student, she started writing poems about her favorite show as a joke.

Fain submitted a collection of BoJack Horseman inspired poems, entitled “Sad Horse Music,” to a contest with the pop culture website The Daily Drunk, and she won. After announcing her achievement, The Daily Drunk published the chapbook in May of 2020, which was the same month she graduated from the college. 

One of the poems, “Sonnet for Bojack Horseman,” was applauded by Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg on Twitter.

“Seeing other people take it seriously helped me take it seriously to the point where it was no longer a joke, it was just something I was doing and I was interested in,” Fain said. But I'm still really surprised that it's gotten such a decent reception of people reading it and enjoying it. That's just something I never expected.”

Fain said her poem ideas often start out as jokes.

“I was talking to my friend like, ‘I should write about how much I cry,’” Fain said. “And I did, and it worked out really well. So I think anything—any joke, anything you’re thinking about, any ideas—they’re good ideas as long as you bring the craft to it.”

Fain returned to Franklin College in November, alongside 2015 alumna Lauren Davis, for a reading from her poetry collections. Senior creative writing major Kara Simon applauded her work.

“Sam's first poetry collection ‘Coughing Up Planets’ is absolutely stunning,” Simon said. “Sam has a way with words that makes the reader feel, see and just truly know what the speaker of the poem is facing.”

Former creative writing professor Callista Buchen, a poet herself with her most recent full-length collection titled “Look Look Look,” was one of Fain’s major supporters and is the professor that encouraged her to take her Bojack Horseman-inspired poetry more seriously. Fain was initially a psychology major who wrote as a way to express her emotions, but Buchen encouraged her to give creative writing a try and she ended up graduating as a creative writing major.

“[Buchen] helped me in class and outside of the class, and I'm really grateful for that,” Fain said.

Buchen helped Fain compile her piece “Coughing Up Planets” into manuscript form so it would be ready for publishing. In contrast to the quick acceptance and publication of “Sad Horse Music,” she estimated that “Coughing Up Planets” was rejected about 30 times before Vegetarian Alcoholic Press published it in March of 2021.

Fain is now studying to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. In addition to her own studies, she teaches one course per semester in a teaching assistantship. She said enjoys watching her students’ writing abilities develop as time progresses.

Working towards her MFA has been more difficult than her time at Franklin College because she doesn't feel as much support from her instructors. She said she has also suffered from the isolation caused by the pandemic. Still, she said writing can be a solace from the stresses of daily life.

“I use it as an outlet in a big way,” Fain said.

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