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So What do you like/dislike about your MFA program?
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May 27, 2005, 12:41 PM

Post #51 of 59 (2765 views)
Re: [desertmolly] So What do you like/dislike about your MFA program? Can't Post

Goddard has a teaching practicum requirement as part of their MFA program. This amounts to teaching a writing workshop (min. of 15 hours) with a sponsor organizations during your third semester--this could be at a prision, arts center, library, etc in a town in your neighborhood. Also, some MFA-CW students take an addition two semesters to complete their teaching certification through the MFA-CW program in conjuction with the Goddard Education dept.


May 27, 2005, 12:51 PM

Post #52 of 59 (2764 views)
Re: [perridox] So What do you like/dislike about your MFA program? Can't Post

Perridox, you wanted a gripe, so here are two: the food at Warren Wilson is pretty bad. And the mattresses (student mattresses of course) have plastic covers on them, so that if you don't bring your own mattress pad, you're kept awake by your own sliding and slipping and plasticy crackling sounds.

Seriously, I think one of the reasons that you don't hear more gripes, at least from those of us on the low-res side, is that we had to think long and hard before making such a big commitment of time and money. It is not an easy decision, and the people who are uncertain of its benefits generally opt out, which is right for them. Those of us who plunge in are pretty much determined to get everything we can out of it, and since we're grownups, we find ways to make it work.

I wouldn't trade this experience for anything, but that's just me. I have one friend, a poet, who got a traditional MFA, and she was very unimpressed with her program; she just doesn't post here. And I'm sure there are lots of disaffected MFA folks out there, but why would they be drawn to this forum? In that sense we're a self-selected bunch, for the most part.

Good luck.

Molly Thomas-Hicks

May 27, 2005, 12:51 PM

Post #53 of 59 (2764 views)
Re: [willbell] So What do you like/dislike about your MFA program? Can't Post

Thanks, Will. Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing that Goddard requires a semester of teaching when I was researching MFA programs but at the time I had no idea that I would ever want to teach.


May 28, 2005, 8:47 PM

Post #54 of 59 (2743 views)
Re: [perridox] So What do you like/dislike about your MFA program? Can't Post

I'm curious about the lack of negative responses. After all, the question concerned likes AND dislikes. Am I to take it that all MFA attendees are thoroughly satisfied and happy with the programs they selected? Or is this strange silence a matter of tact?

Well, I have a few gripes with my program, but they are mostly my own issues with workshops and the "po-biz," so I'm not sure they are completely relevant to my original question.

I, for one, get a bit tired of workshops where a poem is discussed for a full 25 minutes, practically dissected, then handed back to the student w/out much sense of how it is hanging together as a whole. I sometimes want a teacher to say to me "This is kind of shitty. You should probably start all over again." I think in workshop people are trained to put on tiny little glass & look at parts of a poem isolated from the whole.

I don't really have a close "mentoring" relationship with any of my teachers because I'm not really into the whole close personal contact aspect. so I probably won't make any of those connections that one is supposed to make.

So I have to say, honestly, that I don't enjoy the program very much at all, but I do think I've learned ways to talk about poetry, and think about my own poetry, that it would have taken me years to figure out on my own.


May 29, 2005, 3:10 AM

Post #55 of 59 (2730 views)
Re: [willbell] So What do you like/dislike about your MFA program? Can't Post

i'd say in terms of negativity that mfa programs are like tinkerbell or manhattan in that they only exist when people believe they do.

Bob S.

May 29, 2005, 7:02 AM

Post #56 of 59 (2728 views)
Re: [lillyl] So What do you like/dislike about your MFA program? Can't Post

I have complaints about my program, but they aren't very interesting from a writing standpoint - they're mostly logistical. Like waiting 10 days for mail turnaround even though we all have these newfangled contraptions called computers. Or being charged more for a dorm room than the Best Western down the road. There's a certain shrouded, monolithic feel to the administration of the program that is endemic to the academic world, I think, and not an MFA thing.

But, overall, I think most people can say this at least about the MFA: It beats the real world. That's the idea, isn't it? If it weren't a sanctuary or refuge, or if people weren't happy with it, it probably wouldn't exist, much less be thriving the way it is.


May 30, 2005, 3:44 PM

Post #57 of 59 (2696 views)
Re: [elli] including MFA info in bio/contrib. notes? Can't Post

In Reply To
I've noticed that many authors do NOT mention their MFA's, people I know have earned them. Any thoughts on that, anyone?

Hi, Elli (and everyone else):

I don't always mention my MFA in my bio/contributor notes. Often I'm limited in the word count/space I'm given for that purpose; like many others I mention previous publications, refer readers to my website, or include background relevant to that particular story/essay/review/etc. instead.

Erika D.

Quiet Americans: Stories

the wind

Jun 3, 2006, 4:19 AM

Post #58 of 59 (2542 views)

It's wierd that this section is locked so you have to fanangle questions into older threads. I was curious as to how mfa'ers and programs dealt with success. Do you do an email announcement to share a publication? Does the program website have a section for announcements? Do classmates congratulate you? Ignore your success? Or congratulate with a glare?

Please please share the story if not the school. I'm curious about group dynamics and if you were the shunned one how you reacted? It's a wierd situation we're in. We all want to do well; we want to support our friends and classmates; it's hard what we do; at times we might not want to be happy for others, etc.

Are there horror stories/mfa myths, like law schools where students rip out pages in library books so others can't study?
Is it best to keep your mouth shut about success?

Buy this book!

Jun 3, 2006, 12:59 PM

Post #59 of 59 (2518 views)
Re: [the wind] New Thread: TALES OF COMPETITION Can't Post

The Goddard MFA alumni have an e-mail maillist, and announcements of success come through pretty regularly. They also pretty regularly get cheers.

I imagine there are schools where the reaction would be different, but it will vary by the culture of the school. Some are more competitive, some are more collegial. But since writing is not a zero-sum game, I suspect most writers can (even if a little envious) share pleasure in their colleagues' successes.


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