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HollyHolly


Dec 4, 2005, 9:19 PM

Post #1 of 76 (7806 views)
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MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

I have been looking at the MFA program and TA options at the University of Arizona. I'm mostly enamored by Tucson itself, but am seeking first-hand opinions on the program before I start seriously considering it -- does anyone out there know anything about either the program itself or ways to glean info about its merits?

Thanks! I'm at a bit of a loss...

(This post was edited by motet on Dec 5, 2005, 11:11 AM)


sharonlouise


Dec 5, 2005, 9:52 AM

Post #2 of 76 (7782 views)
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Re: [HollyHolly] Arizona??? Can't Post

Hi holly---
are you thinking this year? FYI--the deadline for U of A was Dec. 1....


HollyHolly


Dec 5, 2005, 10:33 AM

Post #3 of 76 (7780 views)
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Re: [sharonlouise] Arizona??? Can't Post

Oh no no - I'm kind of on the slow boat to grad school! I'm roughly aiming for next spring (Jan. 07), or that following fall. Speaking of which, is it better to start in the fall or spring? Does it matter or effect your odds of acceptance?


sharonlouise


Dec 5, 2005, 12:27 PM

Post #4 of 76 (7767 views)
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Re: [HollyHolly] Arizona??? Can't Post

 


(This post was edited by sharonlouise on Feb 28, 2006, 9:29 AM)


HollyHolly


Dec 5, 2005, 1:44 PM

Post #5 of 76 (7756 views)
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Re: [sharonlouise] Arizona??? Can't Post

Hm, I'll look into that, thanks. However, I'm not all that concerned about deadlines at this point -- I'd really just like to know about the program itself. Anyone?


andfw


Dec 29, 2005, 5:33 AM

Post #6 of 76 (7695 views)
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Re: [HollyHolly] Arizona??? Can't Post

What do you want to know? If you like Tucson, you'll probably like it here -- the city has a way of polarizing people. The fiction program is pretty much like I imagine most MFAs are: you can get as much or as little out of it as you choose. I don't know much about the poetry side. Not sure how the funding really breaks down; I'd estimate a little less than half get GAT positions. A few get to teach CW classes each semester. I like the faculty, but know going in that they're going to lean more toward traditional Iowa-style fiction. Most of the faculty went to Iowa, in fact. Again, not sure about poetry.

I hear the nonfiction program's good, too, but I don't know a thing about that. Seems like there are only a handful of nonfictioners.

If there's anything specific you'd like to know, just ask.


LookUp


Jan 20, 2006, 1:46 PM

Post #7 of 76 (7629 views)
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Re: [HollyHolly] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

It depends a lot on which program you want to go into. I was fiction, but from what I understand, the poetry program is great as is the nonfiction. The fiction program, in many ways, is outstanding. On the other hand, the poster who said a pretty traditional aesthetic dominates is telling the truth. This was at least true of when I was there. However, Aurelie Sheehan recently took over the program and she is not only totally open to experimentation, she's also a genuinly kind person and an excellent writer. There are also some strong and sometimes difficult personalities among the fiction faculty. If you can take them with a cup or two of salt, you will learn a lot. One prof in particular is not fabulous, although a couple of others are. To be honest, I had a love/hate relationship with the program, but you might encounter that anywhere. The MFA is a weird experience. If I were you, I'd go down there, sit in on a class or two, talk to some current students and a few professors, and see what you think. It might be a great match for you and it might not, depending on what you need as a writer. One thing I will say: although while in the program everyone always said "we're so much nicer here than at places like Iowa" it can be fairly cut throat. A lot will depend on the personalities of your classmates.

I know this is sort of a mixed review, but I have a lot of mixed feelings about my MFA experience -- again, you might get that anywhere, though. However, I can say this: I know a hell of a lot more about writing now than I did when I walked into my first workshop there. And although I didn't resonate with every professor I encountered, I figured out the couple who did sort of gel with my aesthetic -- I sought them out, sat them down, and got as much mentoring as I could.

Do a lot of homework, check out a lot of programs, and make your decision based on that. Tucson is a good place to be an artist, though. Lots of hiking, not too many distractions, cheap living.

Good luck.


laughingman


Nov 20, 2006, 6:42 PM

Post #8 of 76 (7439 views)
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Re: [LookUp] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

So-- per Kealey's MFA blog today, U of Arizona has six (6!) 25,000 dollar fellowships that they award every year. Why haven't I heard about this? Why aren't people talking about it?

I scoured the program website (which seemed to be broken in some areas) and couldn't find any mention or advertisement of these fellowships whatsoever. The only other evidence I found was in a googled news article.

Kealey wasn't so kind to U of A in his book ("a distinguished program, but one that is no longer among the elite")--and not many people have mentioned the school here--does this fellowship change things? Any alumni or current students lurking care to give comment? Any of our resident "helpful people" (as Junior Maas has coined them) care to weigh in on whether or not we should all forget about our applications to Iowa and Cornell and Columbia to apply here?


__________



Nov 20, 2006, 7:30 PM

Post #9 of 76 (7433 views)
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Re: [laughingman] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

I originally wanted to apply to Arizona because David Foster Wallace went there...

...but then I read his essay in A Hideously Fun Thing... where he basically said it was a waste of time. Better make that an aggressive, super-didactic realist bent, then. Professors and students that refused to consider what his stories were aiming to be, getting hung up on their rules, such as this gem: NEVER INCLUDE DETAILS THAT COULD DATE A STORY, DAVE! ...To which Dave's confused reply was something like, But in your stories, people are using telephones and driving cars and speaking post-war English, etc. Ack! Run!

So, yeah.


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andfw


Nov 20, 2006, 10:01 PM

Post #10 of 76 (7411 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

I'm actually reading that book right now, in part because I keep hearing about this essay in which DFW says he didn't like Arizona. Is it the one on TV and fiction? Because if so, I can only find brief sections in which he says that the emphasis was on realism and that a lot of the focus during workshop went to piddling things such as the telephones/cars example (both of which are absolutely true -- but is that really exclusive to workshops at the UA?). Having sat through those very workshops, I'd say that "aggressive" and "super-didactic" grossly overstate the case against them. Let's not forget that he also attended Arizona twenty years ago, before a couple of the younger, more non-realist-friendly (for lack of a better term) professors were hired.

I do know that DFW's not exactly hailed as the exemplar of the program (they would be the Russos and Nelsons and Cantys). But he came here to read a few years ago, so he must not have disliked it that much. And everything I've read in his essays (haven't read them all yet) and interviews seems to indicate that he was sort of ambivalent about his experience. I do think a fair amount of people leave Arizona ambivalent about their experience -- but again, is that exclusive to the UA? I really don't know, because I've never attended other MFA programs.

I think Kealey's rankings are widely misunderstood -- as he says, they had more to do with funding than anything else. Arizona has tiered funding, so he doesn't rank it among his top schools. He said similar things about Iowa and others. Call me defensive, but if you look at the success of current and former students, Arizona still can claim to be an elite writing program.

Anyway, re: the big fellowship, the reason you haven't heard much about them is because this year's class is the first to receive them. But it is true that there are a number (don't know how many, or how they break down by genre) of $25K fellowships.


In Reply To
I originally wanted to apply to Arizona because David Foster Wallace went there...

...but then I read his essay in A Hideously Fun Thing... where he basically said it was a waste of time. Better make that an aggressive, super-didactic realist bent, then. Professors and students that refused to consider what his stories were aiming to be, getting hung up on their rules, such as this gem: NEVER INCLUDE DETAILS THAT COULD DATE A STORY, DAVE! ...To which Dave's confused reply was something like, But in your stories, people are using telephones and driving cars and speaking post-war English, etc. Ack! Run!

So, yeah.



wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Nov 20, 2006, 10:52 PM

Post #11 of 76 (7394 views)
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Re: [jstgerma] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

I'm beginning to think that Kealey is the Buddha that must be killed.

His way is one way, but it's not the only way.


__________



Nov 21, 2006, 12:32 AM

Post #12 of 76 (7378 views)
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Re: [jstgerma] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

Hi there:

If DFW's assessment is a gross overstatement, then please elaborate! His MFA comments are indeed brief and sandwiched into a few of his essays, as well as his interviews (and even comments made at readings, dutifully transcribed at places like the Wallace-L e-mail discussion ring. Man am I a dork.). But I think in the Lynch essay, he gives a nicer, kind of comeradely account of his Arizona friendships. My fear has less to do with the realist stuff (we all have our leanings), and more to do with professors not really meeting student work on its own terms. I think thats Wallace's main complaint. It could happen anywhere; I just wish there was some reliable list. Like, Don't go to Syracuse: Saunders will only allow short, choppy sentences! Is that asking too much?


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Fear&Loathing


Nov 21, 2006, 1:01 AM

Post #13 of 76 (7373 views)
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Re: [wilmabluekitty] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

To say that he is the Buddha that must be killed is a nice back-handed compliment. Work out your own salvation with diligence.


andfw


Nov 21, 2006, 4:26 AM

Post #14 of 76 (7363 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

I wasn't talking about DFW when I said it was a gross overstatement. I meant this comment of yours: "Better make that an aggressive, super-didactic realist bent, then." Based on my experience at Arizona, I think that's an overstatement; I never found any of the faculty to be aggressive or super-didactic. Unless that is a DFW quote -- in that case, then I guess I am disagreeing with him. I still have yet to find a place where Wallace makes the kind of damning comments about UA that I keep hearing about. I've read a few instances in which he sounds ambivalent. I would imagine many MFAers think similarly of their time in a program. I do, in fact. But my whole point re: DFW is that I think his comments about his MFA experience are often exaggerated (another poster here once said that DFW said he "hated" UA). If there are instances I'm not aware of in which he really bashes Arizona (there may well be -- like I said, I haven't read all of his work), then I stand corrected.

I actually hope there is not a list that says things like "Saunders only likes short sentences" or "Arizona's faculty is aggressively super-didactic." I find those sort of blanket statements difficult to believe. I've met a lot of MFA faculty, including Saunders (who is an amazingly nice man -- I sincerely doubt anybody would aim such criticisms at him) and everybody at UA. Many of them have strong opinions about fiction, opinions they're entitled to have. But I have yet to find a single dictator.
In my opinion, the rumors of their existence too often sound like the overblown carping of ex-MFAers who couldn't handle constructive criticism. And there are many.

In regards to Kealey, I wasn't trying to criticize him. I think he's done a fine job with his book, and also with his blog. He himself makes it very plain that he regards funding as the primary criterion when ranking programs. I think his rankings are often misunderstood in that regard -- he doesn't seem too interested in evaluating a program's prestige, per se. He's much more concerned with value. That's why I don't think his rankings are very authoritative in regards to identifying the "elite" programs. What did he rank Iowa again? Tenth?

In Reply To
Hi there:

If DFW's assessment is a gross overstatement, then please elaborate! His MFA comments are indeed brief and sandwiched into a few of his essays, as well as his interviews (and even comments made at readings, dutifully transcribed at places like the Wallace-L e-mail discussion ring. Man am I a dork.). But I think in the Lynch essay, he gives a nicer, kind of comeradely account of his Arizona friendships. My fear has less to do with the realist stuff (we all have our leanings), and more to do with professors not really meeting student work on its own terms. I think thats Wallace's main complaint. It could happen anywhere; I just wish there was some reliable list. Like, Don't go to Syracuse: Saunders will only allow short, choppy sentences! Is that asking too much?



__________



Nov 21, 2006, 5:35 AM

Post #15 of 76 (7360 views)
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Re: [jstgerma] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

Hi again. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I just want to say I have no first hand knowledge of Arizona, just a generalized fear about all programs. My statement was only in regard to how I remember DFW's comments--from his essays, readings, and interviews--a few years ago! I'm not sure I'd call them damning, per se...and he was trying to be funny, as always. His stongest words did concern a kind of unbending allegiance by certain professors to rules with leaky logic. But who knows.

My pretend list is magical, hypothetical, and absolute. No rumors involved. I long for it after those wasted undergrad workshops--in which too many people--even teachers--tried to make every story--even the ones about robots!--into a Divorce & Cancer in Connecticut affair. Yikes. It's like, Dude, the chick in the Buffy shirt with the 5,000 word sentence with footnotes is not trying to be Raymond Carver. Deal with it!


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 21, 2006, 5:37 AM)


laughingman


Nov 21, 2006, 11:58 AM

Post #16 of 76 (7335 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

Sigh. A chick in a Buffy shirt who writes 5,000 word sentences with footnotes-- where else can you meet such people but in a writing program?

Alright, so apparently DFW graduated in 1987 and they've had some staff turnover since then--and even if they hadn't, whose to say a set of faculty might not evolve with the literary times? (especially if they'd gotten some gentle ribbing from a subsequently famous alum?)

At a glance: Arizona is a two-year program in a good-looking, artistically-inclined, million-person metropolitan area, with some opportunity for funding via TAships, some minor scholarships ($300-$500), and a chance at one of six annual $25,000 fellowships (one year only, I think, though I couldn't find any specific information). The staff appears to range from fully competent to potentially brilliant with the usual array of pushcart prices, best American short story appearances, and published novels. There is prestige and tradition, here, and a nice little history of published authors of some acclaim (as varied as DFW, Richard Russo, and Robert Boswell).

This one has all the hallmarks of a top 20 program, and that's what I'm going to call it until someone can convince me otherwise.

(and thanks much to jstgerma for the insights from inside the program.)



In Reply To
Hi again. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I just want to say I have no first hand knowledge of Arizona, just a generalized fear about all programs. My statement was only in regard to how I remember DFW's comments--from his essays, readings, and interviews--a few years ago! I'm not sure I'd call them damning, per se...and he was trying to be funny, as always. His stongest words did concern a kind of unbending allegiance by certain professors to rules with leaky logic. But who knows.

My pretend list is magical, hypothetical, and absolute. No rumors involved. I long for it after those wasted undergrad workshops--in which too many people--even teachers--tried to make every story--even the ones about robots!--into a Divorce & Cancer in Connecticut affair. Yikes. It's like, Dude, the chick in the Buffy shirt with the 5,000 word sentence with footnotes is not trying to be Raymond Carver. Deal with it!



andfw


Dec 1, 2006, 4:26 AM

Post #17 of 76 (7234 views)
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Re: [laughingman] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

In case anybody's interested in a sampling of UA's more esteemed alumni, check the newly updated department Web site: http://english.web.arizona.edu/index_site.php?id=135&preview=1

I hope this doesn't constitute bragging, since I am not listed there and probably won't be anytime soon, if ever. Maybe if this Stegner application I'm currently addressing pans out (are you listening, God?).


(This post was edited by jstgerma on Oct 7, 2007, 5:49 PM)


__________



Dec 1, 2006, 5:59 AM

Post #18 of 76 (7232 views)
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Re: [jstgerma] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

Hey there. Before you get all disappointed, just remember--historically, they pick folks Robert Olen Butler recommends to Tobias Wolfe, along with various other 'insiders', such as people married to current fellows (like Ryan Harty and Julie Orringer) along with their honest choices. So when they say they pick five or whatever a year, keep in mind the actual, non-rigged number is much smaller.


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BuckeyeBrooder


Jan 14, 2007, 3:09 PM

Post #19 of 76 (7124 views)
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Re: [HollyHolly] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

Does anyone know about the fellowships that Univ of Arizona added? It's awarded to six incoming grads, I think, and worth about $25,000. But is it divided among two years or awarded for one year?


debernardi
jeff thorsby


Jan 26, 2007, 1:11 AM

Post #20 of 76 (7051 views)
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Re: [BuckeyeBrooder] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

one year. hope this helps.


zebulon


Oct 7, 2007, 10:08 PM

Post #21 of 76 (6804 views)
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Re: [debernardi] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

OK, how about ASU? They have Norman Dubie, TR Hummer and Alberto Rios... but does anyone know anything about their TAships or have any personal experience with the program?


Dime49


Oct 18, 2007, 2:26 PM

Post #22 of 76 (6748 views)
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Re: [zebulon] MFA programs in Arizona Can't Post

I'm currently in the ASU program and think very highly of it. At this point, all MFA students get TA positions and there are lots of additional funding opportunities beyond that. I'm in poetry and the faculty is pretty amazing. As are the students - it's a very friendly and supportive atmosphere...if you can handle the desert.


sarah_sophia


Jan 12, 2008, 7:36 PM

Post #23 of 76 (6628 views)
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ASU and deadlines Can't Post

   
what up ya''ll, i was just checking out arizona state's website. i had thought that the deadline was february 1st, which it says here http://www.asu.edu/...ing/information.html

but then here http://www.asu.edu/...iting/admission.html it says all application materials must be received by januar 15th.

i've already emailed the program contact person by the way, but i'd like to get a response before the deadline.

so yeah, anyone know what's going on?


jeleri


Jan 14, 2008, 2:37 PM

Post #24 of 76 (6569 views)
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Re: [sarah_sophia] ASU and deadlines Can't Post

I e mailed the program administrator with the same question. She said they'd honor the Feb. 1 deadline, but it should be received by then, not postmarked by then. Good Luck!


sarah_sophia


Jan 14, 2008, 4:22 PM

Post #25 of 76 (6554 views)
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Re: [jeleri] ASU and deadlines Can't Post

   
thanks!

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