Mar 19, 2006, 1:54 PM
Post #80 of 100
Well, the quality of the writing in the program was also pretty variable, but I don't want to get into that too much...again, I think some of that had to do with the newness of the program at the time and my hope is that the program is now attracting a stronger applicant pool overall.
Re: [shadowboxer] MFA Programs and Diversity
And yes, one would hope that good writers would also be good critics. But we've all pretty much agreed on this board that not all good writers are good writing teachers, so I'm not sure that good writing always translates into good writing-about-writing /workshop participation, either (and I'm not sure all recommenders would include this information, even if they possessed it, in their letters).
And I think it is, actually, a bad sign if people are too lazy to complete one more application component (especially if, as in many low-res programs, they may have been spared some others, such as the GRE). If you can't be bothered to write one critique for an application, for your own benefit (admission), that doesn't bode well for your commitment to writing them throughout your MFA program not only for yourself (honing your skills and insights about writing) but for the benefit of your classmates/future students. (Before anyone refutes me on this and tells me that low-residency programs rely on mentors and so workshopping skills are less important, let me point out that my low-res program was one of the several workshop-based programs that do exist, although they're also something of a "minority" within the low-res world.)
Shadowboxer, I appreciate your last set of comments and I especially appreciate the thoughtfulness with which you have presented them. And I agree with some of them--especially about the power of reading to enlighten us about other cultures (again, I think reading lists/curricula should acknowledge this not only on the basis of the skin color of the writers whose work are included but by including work reflective of a multiplicity of geographic locations (U.S. and international), ages, religions, classes, etc.). I think it's even better when American writers can read literature in at least one other language beyond English. That also expands one's intellectual and creative horizons.
Obviously, however, I still disagree with some of your views, and I think at some level we'll have to agree to disagree and move on. I am, indeed, among those who may be reluctant to group all "minorities" in clusters and generalize about their experiences and writing. My own Jewish-inflected writing, for example, is not by definition identical to the writing of other Jews. There are varieties of experience. (My father used to joke that my sister and I were products of intermarriage, because his background is German-Jewish and our mother's is Eastern European. I have Orthodox cousins whose experience as Jews is vastly different from mine as a Reform Jew.) And I think the criticism does acknowledge the varieties within any single group's experience and common bonds.
(This post was edited by edwriter on Mar 19, 2006, 2:13 PM)