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sarandipidy


Oct 26, 2005, 6:11 PM

Post #1 of 351 (22730 views)
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Brown University MFA Can't Post

hi everyone,

i am applying to brown's program for poetry. i've been reading lately that is is mostly comprised of experimental poets. i am not one of these. i still want to apply, but i thought maybe someone here might have gone there or knows a little more than i do. my poems are pretty image-heavy and sometimes surreal, but they are grounded in narrative and are definitely not avant-garde.

also, i'm applying to umass amherst. anyone know about this program (i.e. is there a typical poetry style)?

thanks.


(This post was edited by motet on Mar 28, 2006, 6:14 PM)


morehouse


Oct 26, 2005, 8:00 PM

Post #2 of 351 (22703 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] brown university MFA Can't Post

interesting, i'm applying to both of those schools as well.
i honestly don't know the answer to your questions but
i just wanted to say hello anyway.


curbludgeon


Oct 27, 2005, 12:17 AM

Post #3 of 351 (22682 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] brown university MFA Can't Post

I seem to remember the site for UMass' program having a link to their MFA journal. That might help, to see what kind of work folks in the program have been writing.


hazelmotes


Oct 28, 2005, 6:36 PM

Post #4 of 351 (22634 views)
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Re: [curbludgeon] brown university MFA Can't Post

I have a similar question for fiction-- I'm strongly considering applying to Brown, but frankly, I'm not an experimental writer, and I'm not sure it's worth my while. I met Robert Coover the other day and asked him how to get into the Brown program, and he told me to basically submit my strangest stories. My subject matter is a little off-kilter, but my writing style is fairly straightforward.


sovietsleepover


Oct 31, 2005, 2:40 PM

Post #5 of 351 (22591 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] brown university MFA Can't Post

I'm not sure if this is totally kosher, but: both the people who run horseless press graduated from Brown recently & might be willing to answer some questions. I'm only familiar with one person's work, and it's grown more and more experimental in the time I've known her (from maintaining a fairly traditional narrative structure pre-Brown)..

I'd recommend reading the work of faculty & students at Brown--I think it matters whether you like their work there more than most places, since it's often constructed under constraints (found/collage, for example) that you'd be experimenting with also. I think if you're not committed to that level of experimentalism, there are probably other interdisciplinary programs that blend experimentalism with traditional structures a little more (I can't think of any right now though!).


hazelmotes


Nov 1, 2005, 2:42 PM

Post #6 of 351 (22566 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] brown university MFA Can't Post

Well, some of the facutly, Wideman, for example, I like a lot. But honestly, I would HATE having to do work only under the restraint of found collage. I mean, maybe it could get me started on something I might consider a "real story" but it's not my thing. I like the idea of a program that's open to a lot of different types of writers. I don't like the idea of a program where being strange is forced, and I'm trying to figure out which type of program Brown is.

Thanks for your tips


franz


Dec 5, 2005, 7:05 PM

Post #7 of 351 (22419 views)
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Re: [hazelmotes] brown university MFA Can't Post

 I met Robert Coover the other day and asked him how to get into the Brown program, and he told me to basically submit my strangest stories. My subject matter is a little off-kilter, but my writing style is fairly straightforward.


I'm applying to Brown as well and I'm curious what others have to say about this. Are there any MFA or former MFA students from Brown reading this? Or do you know of anybody who has gone to school there? If so, what insights do you have on the necessity of having a heavily 'experimental' focus?


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


hazelmotes


Dec 5, 2005, 7:19 PM

Post #8 of 351 (22416 views)
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Re: [franz] brown university MFA Can't Post

fyi, I decided not to apply to Brown because of this "Experimental" problem. Read the faculty! I looked over some stuff and decided it was way off the mark for my work, and not worth the $70 application fee.


franz


Dec 5, 2005, 7:26 PM

Post #9 of 351 (22412 views)
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Re: [hazelmotes] brown university MFA Can't Post


In Reply To
fyi, I decided not to apply to Brown because of this "Experimental" problem. Read the faculty! I looked over some stuff and decided it was way off the mark for my work, and not worth the $70 application fee.


Hey there, I have read quite a bit of the faculty, and overall, the faculty doesn't seem that experimental in bent. Wideman and Adoo are pretty straightforward in style. Evenson is kind of horror-fantastical but not that experimental. Even Coover, who is all over the place, is pretty straightforward at times.


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


felixqvarga


Dec 15, 2005, 10:26 PM

Post #10 of 351 (22352 views)
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current Brown student here Can't Post

I go to Brown. I graduate in May. I am in Fiction. I would not say it is overly experimental. There is a mix. I would say that it is fairly skewed toward postmodern narrative (whatever that is). If anyone has further questions I'd be happy to answer them.

p.s. my name isn't really felix


franz


Dec 16, 2005, 12:06 AM

Post #11 of 351 (22340 views)
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Re: [felixqvarga] current Brown student here Can't Post


In Reply To
I go to Brown. I graduate in May. I am in Fiction. I would not say it is overly experimental. There is a mix. I would say that it is fairly skewed toward postmodern narrative (whatever that is). If anyone has further questions I'd be happy to answer them.

p.s. my name isn't really felix


Thanks for answering my question. I would love to know more about your insights into the program (along with the other 700 some applicants, I suppose). How is the funding there? Is there good financial aid? What do you think of the quality of teaching and your overall experience there?
Last but not least, having been at this point yourself, what would you say the multitudes of us applicants are up against, in terms of getting accepted?
I'm sure many of us would love to see some writing from the program, but I'm guessing that's too much to ask.
Thanks for any insights you might have!


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


felixqvarga


Dec 16, 2005, 1:15 AM

Post #12 of 351 (22332 views)
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Re: [franz] current Brown student here Can't Post

Well, let's see. First of all, it is a fairly hands-off program. They aren't really pushing a particular style (read:Iowa) nor are they actively seeking to produce future Harper's editors (Columbia). in some ways, you are very much left alone to do your own thing. The professors I have had have all been, to a fault, committed to taking each person's work on its own terms. No one is interested in making you into any particular kind of writer, but encouraging you to be the writer you want to be.

The funding is excellent. Full tuition plus a stipend, which is twice as much second year as first, because you are teaching both semesters. I taught Intro Fiction this term and enjoyed it a lot. Brown undergrads are as a rule smart and driven overachievers. So that makes a huge difference in terms of the overall teaching experience.

I would say I've definitely become a better writer here. Partially that is due to simply being forced to write on a regular basis. But no doubt there is an extremely high level of discourse in workshops that gives you new ways of thinking about your work.

My only advice re: getting accepted would be to cultivate your unique voice as much as possible, and be fearless. I can also tell you that past grades, publications and so on probably don't matter very much. it's pretty much all about the writing sample.
Hope this helps
fqv


mingram
Mike Ingram

Dec 19, 2005, 9:14 PM

Post #13 of 351 (22272 views)
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Re: [felixqvarga] current Brown student here Can't Post

I go to Iowa. Nobody here's pushing a particular style. Or, well, certain people are pushing certain styles, maybe, and certain other people are kinda sorta pushing other certain styles. Saying there is some overall pushing of some singular style implies a level of organization and unity that doesn't exist in the program, which is much more haphazard and disorganized than those outside the program would probably imagine (mostly this haphazardness functions in a good way, though every now and then it can be infuriating).

Then again, my guess is that most of the stereotypes about various MFA programs are inaccurate: that Iowa wants to churn out writers of realism in some sort of writing factory, that Brown only wants extremely experimental writers, that everyone at Columbia is really mean and will step on your head if your head is in between them and a two-book contracts, etc. etc.


franz


Mar 7, 2006, 5:47 PM

Post #14 of 351 (22115 views)
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Re: [felixqvarga] current Brown student here Can't Post


In Reply To
I go to Brown. I graduate in May. I am in Fiction. I would not say it is overly experimental. There is a mix. I would say that it is fairly skewed toward postmodern narrative (whatever that is). If anyone has further questions I'd be happy to answer them.

p.s. my name isn't really felix


I was just wondering if you have any insights on what's happening with the application process right now. Many of us applied to Brown, and I know I'm not the only one curious about this.


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


Logann


Mar 9, 2006, 8:31 PM

Post #15 of 351 (21995 views)
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Re: [franz] current Brown student here Can't Post

According to their website, they will notify mid-to-late march. So I guess we'll all know within the next three weeks or so. Here's to hope'n!


cyclical



Mar 10, 2006, 10:36 AM

Post #16 of 351 (21925 views)
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Re: [Logann] current Brown student here Can't Post

I've heard about Brown and it's experimental approach, but what kind of "experimental" are we talking about here?

The whole "Idontusespacesorpunctuationinmytrainofthoughtwriting" kind of experimental, the whole David Foster Wallace(1) kind of experimental, or the whole

my fiction
is like poetry
that doesn't rhyme and
I space it
accordingly

kind of experimental?


What are we talking about here?







(1) you know, the kind that uses footnotes to take you into a totally different direction, like how you'd be reading about an ex-girlfriend's car accident only to get a nasty segway into a recipe on how to make fat-free prune veggie brownies, and then actually have to read it, like how you'd mix in one bowl 1/2c flour, 1/3c cocoa, 1/4t baking powder, 1/4t salt and then in a separate bowl mix 1/2c pureed prunes, 2/3c sugar, 1t vanilla, and 2 egg equivalents, then add dry to wet, put in an 8-inch square pan, and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until edges look dry and start to pull away from the pan, that kind of experimental writing?


poetastin


Mar 10, 2006, 12:33 PM

Post #17 of 351 (21889 views)
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Re: [cyclical] current Brown student here Can't Post

I've been wondering and wondering myself lately. Schools tell you to look at the faculty's work, but God bless Robert Coover--his work is all great, but varied.

I'd say none of the stuff you mentioned, though, has been 'experimental' for ages. DFW is my absolute favorite author, but his stuff is just an amalgam of Gaddis, Barthelme, Pynchon and others (and he's ruined the "..." thing and the footnote thing--wasn't the first to do either, but now you try to pull those off without someone accusing you of being Wallace-esque!)

Hypertext may be the last experimental thing, and that's what I don't want to encounter at Brown. (You read those Choose Your Own Adventure stories when you were little? Too much like that!)


jgarbe


Mar 11, 2006, 4:38 AM

Post #18 of 351 (21796 views)
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Electronic writers all want to know! Can't Post

Hypertext may be the last experimental thing, and that's what I don't want to encounter at Brown. (You read those Choose Your Own Adventure stories when you were little? Too much like that!)

No offense, but that's like saying "Poetry? You read poetry when you were little? It all rhymes!" One of the most attractive things about hyperfiction (for me, at least) is the bewildering array of forms it can take.

Word on the infostream is Brown sent out a decision to a poet. Congrats to them, but it made me wonder how soon the decisions will be made for the hyperfiction position. I can't imagine as many people applied to electronic writing as poetry or fiction (at least I hope not, with only one seat available!) so logically it would seem I can soon stop biting my nails.

Does anyone have any insider access, any rumors, any murmured names overhead from Coover's office? I'm dyin' here!

~Jacob


poetastin


Mar 11, 2006, 6:32 AM

Post #19 of 351 (21793 views)
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Re: [jgarbe] Electronic writers all want to know! Can't Post


In Reply To
No offense, but that's like saying "Poetry? You read poetry when you were little? It all rhymes!" One of the most attractive things about hyperfiction (for me, at least) is the bewildering array of forms it can take.


None taken! That was a little simplistic. The only thing I've seen, so far, is Choose Your Own Adventure type work, in regards to hypertext. Unless you count those little McSweeney's playing cards that Coover did. Did you see those? Very nice. But my difficulty accepting it all (or trying to get into it) is that Coover is just such a great writer of sentences, I really don't care about his experimentation beyond what he did in the sixties with Pricksongs & Descants.

But do you mean to say there's a separate application process for hypertext at Brown? What does that one person do, as opposed to the other fiction guys?


jgarbe


Mar 11, 2006, 2:19 PM

Post #20 of 351 (21736 views)
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Re: [poetastin] Electronic writers all want to know! Can't Post

Not necessarily a separate application, but for the writing sample we have to send "one or two electronic works". The biggest kicker is that while there's five spots for poets, five for fiction writers, and three for playwrights, there's only one for electronic writers. Hence the sweating.

As far as I can tell, it's more of an apprenticeship thing (there's only two professors--Robert Coover and Thalia Field--within the program) but you can take graphic design, computer programming, video, etc. in addition to other fiction and poetry courses. Kind of all over the place, which appealed to me.


~Jacob


(This post was edited by jgarbe on Mar 12, 2006, 4:56 PM)


felixqvarga


Mar 11, 2006, 3:05 PM

Post #21 of 351 (21720 views)
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Re: [poetastin] Electronic writers all want to know! Can't Post

Felix (current Brown student) here,

I noticed this thread had picked back up after a long hiatus and wanted to say again that if anyone has any questions, feel free...I don't have any insider info but I can most likely find out if the e-writer spot has been decided. Almost took Coover's class this semester but decided on Maso's instead.

fqv


jgarbe


Mar 11, 2006, 5:44 PM

Post #22 of 351 (21685 views)
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Re: [felixqvarga] Electronic writers all want to know! Can't Post

Anything you can find out about the status of the e-writer would be phenomenal. Any and all. In my pipe-dream head I imagine a list of the people they've narrowed it down to, but that'd be a flagrant violation. So maybe just a rough idea of how much longer I have to wring my hands.

Thanks a million.

~Jacob


lytonyawename



Mar 11, 2006, 9:42 PM

Post #23 of 351 (21635 views)
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Re: [felixqvarga] Electronic writers all want to know! Can't Post

okay, so, since Brown is the only place that would really have a shot at pulling me away from my spot at Alabama... let's pretend for a moment i have a shot at Brown: how good is the funding (I know it's personal, but how much really, as long as you don't mind-an estimation maybe)? does everyone pretty much get the same funding? how does it work for living in Prov?
how about time for writing?
how much teaching do you do? what kind of classes?

what kind of real nature is nearby? i've never been north of virginia in the east and am used to lots of nature be it CA or AL...

and thanks for being so thoughtful, that's sweet to offer us outsiders any info.


cyclical



Mar 12, 2006, 12:15 PM

Post #24 of 351 (21583 views)
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Re: [jgarbe] Electronic writers all want to know! Can't Post

I may be new to this reading and writing thingy, but isn't hypertext more of like, I dunno, an IT gig? Or is it more like hyperlinking text to webpages? If so, what's so revolutionary about that?


jgarbe


Mar 12, 2006, 5:40 PM

Post #25 of 351 (21524 views)
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Re: [cyclical] Electronic writers all want to know! Can't Post

I suppose if we use the word "hypertext" it can be generalized to all things written in HTML or similar languages, or simply electronic text, which makes the IT comparison perfectly valid. However, when you add hyperfiction, you force a sort of translation on the phrase.

There's actually a lot of IT application to hyperfiction. Take machine writers, for example, or navigation and ordering of lexias that depends on algorithms or similar calculations. The text or narrative becomes the information, so the linking and structuring of that takes on a very similar, if not identical, form to IT.

Most hyperfiction just uses links between lexias, and becomes--as Poetastin said--Choose Your Own Adventure-esque in form. I kind of wish those books had never been written, because the comparison immediately trivializes, juvenilizes, and over-simplifies the possibilities of the medium.

Here's an example of the more common form:
Mark Amerika's Grammatron

There's something like 800 different lexias, which should immediately suggest more complexity than Revenge of the Russian Ghost.

Hyperfiction also blends into "New Media", which is a whole other Pandora's box.
You can use images or movies to connect your story together. Here's an excellent video installation:
Van Sowerwine's Play With Me

and here's one that uses a collage to connect the lexias:
Victory

Hope that helped clarify. Sorry if it was obnoxiously long, but I like sharing information.

~Jacob

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