Feb 24, 2009, 1:24 AM
Post #380 of 466
Re: [Khalilah] Why Iowa instead of a differnt MFA Program and Re: [amarra] Iowa Acceptees
As a graduate of the Writers' Workshop, I can honestly say that perhaps the only reason not to go to Iowa is if you have some geographic or personal reason (e.g., your partner lives on the East Coast) that makes another location more desirable. Before Iowa improved their funding dramatically, that might have been another reason not to go, but now everyone is funded and their funding, in general, is among the very best in the country. Of course, as you said, the Iowa name and the prestige attached to is perhaps the most obvious reason to go, and though this might seem like a superficial reason right now, I can tell you from personal experience that down the road--when you're trying to get teaching jobs, seeking literary representation, etc.--you'll realize just how valuable a degree from Iowa can be. It doesn't guarantee literary success, of course, but it does give you an advantage over graduates from other programs, simply because of the Workshop's reputation for consistently producing successful writers. So, that's the practical reason for going to Iowa: the degree itself still holds more value, in a professional sense, than any other. As for the experience, I can tell you that Iowa City is an amazing town (probably the best literary town in the country) and that the Workshop community as well as the literary community in Iowa City are truly wonderful. It's just a very inspiring place to be if you're a writer, one of the only places in the country where being a writer is actually valued. On top of that, the Workshop faculty are incredible, not only as writers, but as teachers too. Marilynne Robinson and Jim McPherson are still the two best teachers I've ever had. Add to that the gorgeous building in which the Workshop is housed, the incredible list of visiting writers that come to town, the generous post-grad fellowships, and the many other perks that go along with being a student there, and you begin to see why the application numbers are so high. And of course there's a mystique factor that goes along with attending Iowa--wanting to go the same program where so many other famous writers have gone in the past--though, to be honest, I think that's only a part of it. I think the main reason why Iowa produces so many successful writers is because of the students themselves. In other words, the talent level there is so high that it inspires you to raise your game, to write better poems and stories, and, as a result, everyone just gets a lot better by the time they leave. I realize this might sound a little intimidating to some, but it's actually a very inspiring thing.
Anyway, I hope this answers your question somewhat, and my apologies for rambling on.
Best of luck to you!
(This post was edited by dorchester on Feb 24, 2009, 1:26 AM)