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sibyline


Mar 30, 2007, 3:57 PM

Post #126 of 329 (7748 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] Spacing? Can't Post

of the 16 people who are here right now, two of us went to ivy-leage institutions... i don't think any of next year's 8 prospectives did.... so i don't think that's a factor at all....


seemingmeaning


Mar 30, 2007, 4:02 PM

Post #127 of 329 (7745 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Spacing? Can't Post

I suppose it's a clouded myth I'm following. So it's eight is the maximum number of students accepted each year (4 poets; 4 fiction writers)?


sibyline


Mar 30, 2007, 4:05 PM

Post #128 of 329 (7742 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] Spacing? Can't Post

occasionally people are accepted as combined mfa/phd's, and that funding comes from a different place so there are times when there are more than 8 people in a class.... but that doesn't happen too often.


__________



Mar 31, 2007, 6:29 AM

Post #129 of 329 (7673 views)
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Re: [Hamlet3145] Spacing? Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
What I'm curious to know is whether a MFA program like Cornell (my 2nd choice, 1st is UW-Madison) usually accept students from state universities? I attended LSU and I get a vibe that Cornell mostly accepts students from other ivy-league institution. Or is that simply a fallacious argument on my part?



I'd be more than a little horrified if MFA programs gave more emphasis to one's undergrad pedigree than one's writing sample. Going to Yale doesn't automatically translate into being able to write an effective line of prose...

I guess, like all things, it differs school to school. The Iowa alums over at Poetry Snark have said that Iowa chooses a healthy chunk of heiresses to round out their poetry slots. No one makes money in poetry, but it's those families who turn around and donate wads of dough to the Workshop. That's why, along with genuinely talented folks, you'll be sitting in class with Buffy Mitzee Rockefeller's ditzy cousin.


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John Horvath Jr


May 3, 2007, 12:16 PM

Post #130 of 329 (7581 views)
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Re: [grimson] too many publication credits? Can't Post

I taught creative writing-poetry, literary theory, and criticism for years. I was a college English department chairman. I' am a published poet since the middle 1960s in America and abroad. I now edit poetryREpairs.com

Here is what I know of Master of Fine Arts programs.

You can't have too many credits. You can have too many vanity items (you paid to have it published). You can't have too few credits (the advice given - to talk about how much you want to learn is good advice). Too few credits is what philosophy student-bankteller T.S. Eliot had; it's what pediatrician William Carlos Whilliams had; we all start somewhere and not necessarily in literature. It's good to know that there aren't just undergraduate English Majors in a graduate Writing program. Ideas brought from other disciplines can be very exciting poetical problems to think through. It's a good to know the [i]teaching[/i] faculty in a program. In an application you can talk about why you want to study with/under X poet/professor/s.

Be careful though. The big names may only have one or two annual seminars for a few 'select' students. The name may draw students in, but the name may not meet with students - no one-on-one. Or, you may find so many students that NO ONE can track them all (this is the 'Money Cow' program - those that will take any and every body because the cash flow is good for the school). All Money Cows suffer mad cow disease.

Some teachers will tell you that going to Iowa or Oxford is not important as long as you write well. Well, that advice usually come from someone who survived Iowa or studied at Oxford. In that spectrum, the #1 university program is U of Iowa. But, the 'learning' process is more akin to 'aesthetic darwinism' - survival of the 'best' and 'fittest'. Of course, you are there to learn and develop your craft. The Oxford U. system (indeed most British systems) will give you long reading lists and as much one-on-one as you can squeeze into a semester.

Last thing is to look at the magazines and journals published. Will your poetry have a chance at appearing in it? Is the mag all pseudointaphokinlectuals or a closed circle of mutual admiration(publishes only students). Look for quality - Dalhousie Review or Antigonish Review are examples. Then look at what is published other than the 'poetry' journals. English Education will publish poems tho that is NOT their focus.

Then there's the alternate routes. When I was a spry young would-be in the 1960s/70s at Peabody/Vanderbilt I learned solid mechanics of poetry, the New Criticism of the 1920-1940 era, and the Fugitives. Studying the How, Why, What and Who of poetry is as much a help as focusing on writing your own work. I'll never forget the 'poet' who submitted to poetryREpairs (which I edit) a long explanation on his discovery of the 'bisyllabic strategy' - the last syllable of one line will sound the same as or close to the last syllable of the second line (yes, he discovered the COUPLET). Whatever it is you learn along with how to write a poem,the writing is essential.

Sometimes the best program is shared wine over a bistro table with six other committed poets. We have many young would-be-poets and too few of them are young turks.


edwriter



Oct 4, 2007, 7:56 PM

Post #131 of 329 (7419 views)
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Re: [hapworth] Statement of Purpose Can't Post

Hi, everyone. I'm late to this discussion, but perhaps this may help in the future.

Today I stumbled on a guide on "How to Write a Great Statement of Purpose." Its author is Vince Gotera, who teaches at the University of Northern Iowa and edits poetry for North American Review. I've just posted about another one of his guides on another thread.

Although this guide is not specifically targeted to MFA applicants, given Gotera's background, I thought it was worth mentioning within this thread.

You'll find it here.

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



mpagan


Oct 22, 2007, 1:50 PM

Post #132 of 329 (7338 views)
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Re: Statement of Purpose Can't Post

I have a question. If you mention in your SOP that you are working on say, a collection of short stories and a novel, but only send some short stories with your application, does that look bad at all? I guess if their reading your SOP they've sort of decided they like your writing right? But will they feel cheated if you don't include a sample of what you said you're working on? I am only sending in short stories, which are part of a collection I hope to finish while at an M.F.A. But I also mentioned a novel I am working on, which is not as polished as the short stories, which is why I didn't include it. Hmmm, now that I think about it, why would I jepordize my chances of getting in by sending in work I didn't feel was as polished as my other stories - right? Arrrg!


HopperFu


Oct 22, 2007, 5:06 PM

Post #133 of 329 (7316 views)
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Re: [mpagan] Statement of Purpose Can't Post

Nope. Don't worry about it.
You're over thinking it. Just send the story(ies).


bennyprof


Oct 22, 2007, 5:15 PM

Post #134 of 329 (7314 views)
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Re: [mpagan] Statement of Purpose Can't Post


In Reply To
I have a question. If you mention in your SOP that you are working on say, a collection of short stories and a novel, but only send some short stories with your application, does that look bad at all? I guess if their reading your SOP they've sort of decided they like your writing right? But will they feel cheated if you don't include a sample of what you said you're working on? I am only sending in short stories, which are part of a collection I hope to finish while at an M.F.A. But I also mentioned a novel I am working on, which is not as polished as the short stories, which is why I didn't include it. Hmmm, now that I think about it, why would I jepordize my chances of getting in by sending in work I didn't feel was as polished as my other stories - right? Arrrg!



Yep, I think you've got the right idea. Send your strongest work, period. I doubt they'll give a second thought to why you didn't send part of your novel instead... if it's a work in progress, it naturally follows that it's probably not ready for close scrutiny. There are also possible disadvantages, I think, to sending the first thirty pages of a book. Good beginnings are a lot easier to come by than good endings, and I suspect they want to get a feel for whether or not you can tell a whole story from start to finish, (unless the excerpt/chapter stands really well on its own). That said, I've heard of people getting into some of the top programs based on a novel excerpt, so it's by no means a hard and fast rule. So yeah, back to my original statement. Send your strongest work, period.


mpagan


Oct 22, 2007, 5:43 PM

Post #135 of 329 (7304 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Statement of Purpose Can't Post

Thanks benny and Hopp - I thought as much.
But it's good to get feedback.


mr.shankly


Nov 8, 2007, 2:43 PM

Post #136 of 329 (7190 views)
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"Name dropping" Can't Post

I'm applying to nine to schools, most of which don't have an accecptance rate higher than 5%. For one of the schools (Indiana) two of my recommenders received degrees from the univeristy. One recieved her MA in Fiction before the MFA started there, and the other his PhD in Literature. One of the main reasons I first looked at Indiana is my respect for those two professors. Do I mention this? Or will it seem as if I'm just name dropping?


pongo
Buy this book!


Nov 8, 2007, 6:16 PM

Post #137 of 329 (7161 views)
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Re: [mr.shankly] "Name dropping" Can't Post

I don't think there's any harm in honestly discussing why you chose Indiana. I assume you aren't going to go nuts in overpraising the two recommenders.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Raignn



Nov 13, 2007, 11:57 AM

Post #138 of 329 (7040 views)
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Re: Teaching Philosophy Can't Post

Well since I can't create a new topic, this seemed like the best place to ask this question. I've found several resources for statements of purpose and personal statements... but what about teaching philosophies? I've never written a teaching philosophy before and have little to no idea what to include, how it should look, etc. Any suggestions, examples, resources, etc, please feel free to post or PM me.

The help is much appreciated!


Zash
Zachary Ash

Nov 14, 2007, 1:09 AM

Post #139 of 329 (6979 views)
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Re: [Raignn] Teaching Philosophy Can't Post


In Reply To
I've found several resources for statements of purpose and personal statements...

Any online?


zebulon


Nov 23, 2007, 4:28 AM

Post #140 of 329 (6861 views)
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Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

Has anyone here applied to UT-Austin that would like to offer advice on what to include in their 250 limit SoP? Mine's hovering around 450, with another 50 or so directed at why I think each program fits me LIKE A GLOVE! haha, but in 250 words... damn.

Also, how many anecdotes are too many? 3? Should I just stick to the opening anecdote, then move on to goals and why I'd fit into the program?


__________



Nov 23, 2007, 8:52 PM

Post #141 of 329 (6816 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

An anecdote? In a 250 word SOP? Is anyone else doing this? (Serious question, not meant to be funny or derogatory).

Most bad personal statements open with the Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a writer... gambit, which I guess we could all file under No Shit!. And then that was usually followed by something 'funny' the personal stater did when they were six. (Another career killer: Webster's Dictionary defines 'writer' as:... )

I mean, is this what we're talking about, or is there a more relevant, sophisticated anecdotal approach? And should I be considering it?


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 23, 2007, 8:56 PM)


sovietsleepover


Nov 23, 2007, 11:21 PM

Post #142 of 329 (6801 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

On one hand, I don't think the Michener Center places much weight on the 250 word essay (otherwise they'd want a longer one). On the other hand, it definitely seems like they look for 'interesting' candidates--people with unique or surprising backgrounds, subject matter, etc. So use such a brief essay to set yourself apart as a person, rather than just as a writer or as an expanded CV of professional/academic achievements crammed into too small a space to do yourself justice.

My opinion re: anecdotes is to use only one that provides a seamless transition into your goals/intention as a writer, and then only if the anecdote demonstrates special insight & uniqueness, as well as the usual tenacity and commitment. Another 1-2 anecdotes might fit in later if 100% germane to where the essay's going.


zebulon


Nov 24, 2007, 2:01 PM

Post #143 of 329 (6762 views)
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Re: [sovietsleepover] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

OK, so they need not know anything about your origins as a writer? It was a less formulaic, but still about that, so thanks, I'll cut that out...

Sorry, one last small question about publications, does that go in the SoP? Or as an attachment to the writing sample? And is there a specific number of publications that is good to mention? I've read that in cover letters if you list more than 4 it's viewed slightly negatively... Or should I merely mention if the poems in the sample are published somewhere... (ie My poems have recently appeared in blah blah blah, or "Mother's Day" was originally published in The Southern Review, "Hoarfrost" blah blah blah...)?

Thank you all for your help. I think reading too much about applying to MFAs really psyched me out.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman

Nov 24, 2007, 3:49 PM

Post #144 of 329 (6744 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

The MFA application forms I filled out all had a separate place to list publications, honors, and awards. They had about three lines, so I just enclosed a separate sheet (the forms said that was fine, too) listing everything of relevance. As to the SOP, I would have to find mine to tell exactly what I said, but I remember the general context if you want that.

I stated my reason(s) for pursuing the MFA. I talked about specific career and writing goals and how I thought the MFA would help me reach them. I think I also referred to my current assessment of my writing craft and what I thought I needed to work on. I discussed why this was the right time in my life and career to get an MFA, and I talked specifically about each program I was applying to and how I felt I could benefit from their program. Oh, I also talked about my prior workshop experience and indicated what strengths I thought I could bring to the program.

I didn't use any personal anecdotes, though. I will tell you that two faculty members commented on my SOP, saying that they were impressed by how clearly I articulated my goals.

I think several people have posted their SOPs on here. If go back through the earlier posts, you should find them. I can post mine on here if you want, but you'll have to wait a few days because I'm still caught up with family stuff and finishing a scholarship application for the spring semester.

For me, the SOP was more stressful than the writing sample, but that could be because I've been out of school for so long. Just be honest, direct, and focused, and you should do fine. Remember, the SOP is your first introduction to the program. They want to know what kind of writer and/or student they might be working with. They want to know what your expectations are and what you can bring to the program. I'm not sure they really care how you got to where you are--unless it has had a major impact on your writing life and craft.

Hope that helps.

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


BLUECHEESE


Nov 24, 2007, 7:00 PM

Post #145 of 329 (6719 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

What school are you attending? And it would be very helpful if you'd post your SOP.

The funny thing is, I haven't seen a single SOP posted by a poet. I'm wondering what they are expecting out of us? Poetry is a totally different world than fiction in terms of what it attempts to be; despite being included in the same MFA programs.


Rambler


Nov 24, 2007, 7:39 PM

Post #146 of 329 (6711 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

Thanks so much for sharing your technique. I appreciate the good advice.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman

Nov 27, 2007, 12:17 PM

Post #147 of 329 (6597 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

Here is the promised sample of my SOP. It's for fiction, BLUECHEESE, so I don't know how helpful that will be to you, but this SOP did get help me get into the low-res school of my choice. I've redacted some of the personal information. Be sure, too, to go back through this thread and read the SOPs by HopperFu, Sibyllene (sp?), Maliber, and Arkenese. I used those as templates to design my own SOP.

Here you go:


I believe that an MFA in creative writing will afford me the opportunity to further develop my craft and provide me the credentials to teach as an adjunct at the community college level. I have been writing for over twenty-five years, actively seeking out workshops and courses to help me improve my skills. Three of the most notable workshops include: a week-long fiction writing workshop with Lee Smith at Duke University; a semester fiction-writing course (noncredit) with Alex Blackburn at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; and three courses (noncredit) on writing the novel with Patricia Burroughs Collins County Community College, Plano, Texas. I have also attended numerous writing conferences and entered writing competitions. I have won several awards for my fiction, including an Encouragement Award in Creative Writing from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and an Artist Skills Building grant from the Creative Capital Foundation.


My formal training includes a bachelor’s degree in English from [..] and one year of graduate study in English at the [..]. Due to the constraints of family commitments, my time to write has been limited. However, now that my children are grown, I am both ready and eager to pursue a concentrated course of study in the art of writing fiction.


My writing experiences have taught me to write solid, sometimes publishable prose, but I would like to take my writing from merely “good” to excellent. I have always been comfortable in the workshop setting. In fact, when I first began writing seriously in the early 1980s, I founded the Stockton (California) Writers Association, a group that began with four members and expanded to over sixty participants by the end of my tenure as facilitator. Since then, I have continued to be involved in critique groups, some more productive than others. I am currently an active member of the [..], a highly successful (and published) group of writers who work on everything from nonfiction to poetry to short fiction to novels. Although this group is helpful to me, I am also acutely aware that I’ve reached a plateau in my craft. I want to stretch my boundaries, push beyond what I know and am comfortable with to produce writing that is more sophisticated and more creative. The MFA Program in Creative Writing of [..], with its focus on writing, reading, and critical analysis, will help me achieve those goals.


For the past few years, I have been working on two major projects: a collection of short stories and an historical novel. The short stories are contemporary in nature and tend to be about characters who have normal, everyday lives but make bad choices that throw them into unexpected and difficult situations. My novel is set in Tiberias in the first century C.E. and is about [..]. The stories are in various states of completion and revision, but the novel is currently in a final draft stage. I’m uncertain which project would be the most appropriate for the MFA Writing Program, but this is something I would like to explore with my faculty advisor. My primary goal for the MFA is to create a book-length work of publishable fiction; my secondary goal is to receive the credentials that will qualify me to teach as an adjunct at the community college level. I want to do this because I believe the teacher can learn as much about the craft from her students as her students can learn from her.


In my experience as a teacher of community writing workshops, I have discovered that it’s just as important to teach what the student wants to know as it is to teach what the student needs to know. When I was first approached to teach a beginning fiction writing class, I sat down and made a list of everything I wished someone had told me when I began writing seriously. Then I broke down this list into four basic components: plot and conflict; character development; use of setting and time; and the function/mechanics of dialogue. This simple process of deconstruction proved to be illuminating. I discovered that when I had to explain how to write fiction, my own writing improved.


I am an eclectic and avid reader. In addition to reading the works submitted by my critique group, I read nonfiction articles and books as research for my novel-in-progress; short story collections; contemporary and classic works of fiction; memoirs; and books about the craft and business of writing. I read the fiction for pleasure and to study style and technique. I read nonfiction primarily for information. I believe that the critical reading component of your program, with its emphasis on reading as a writer, will help me to reach an even greater understanding of the craft.


Pursuing an MFA in creative writing is the best way for me to develop my craft as a writer and my skills as a teacher. The MFA Writing Program at [..] has a stellar reputation for its vibrant writing community and faculty mentorship. I would welcome the opportunity to become a member of that community.

----
Hope that is helpful.
Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


Rambler


Nov 27, 2007, 10:30 PM

Post #148 of 329 (6539 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

Bless you for sharing.


forthedogs


Nov 28, 2007, 8:27 AM

Post #149 of 329 (6512 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

thanks for sharing this!


question for the rest of you:
Minnesota's application wants an SoP to the English Grad Dept. The grad school app also wants one online. The eng dpt website says their statement is "a separate statement from the one required as part of the Graduate School application but may include the same text."

Does this mean it can be the same, or do i have to write another one? The grad school asks specific questions, but I feel like my SoP adequately answers these. Think it's ok to use the same statement?


zebulon


Nov 30, 2007, 12:41 AM

Post #150 of 329 (6430 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Austin's 250 word limit Can't Post

Thank you very much for your input.

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