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joysan


Sep 6, 2004, 11:30 PM

Post #1 of 76 (10640 views)
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Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs Can't Post

Hi,

I'm new to this site, I'm a poet, writer of random essays, and mostly a slacker(!). I was reading the v. long post on MFA's, and I actually got into University of Notre Dame with a Poetry Fellowship for fall 2004 -eep, received almost complete funding through the poetry fellowship -eep, and turned it down thinking it wasn't reputable enough, although I was unduly flattered by getting one of the 5 spots for poets, after talking to current students it didn't seem competitive enough of a program. I applied because I was swayed by their full tuition waver. The rankings (u.s. news world report) for programs are for general Creative Writing, but I really want to find the best programs for Poetry. Although, two students in my poetry classes at Amherst College were complete ejits and they got full funding at UMass Amherst (this rankles), and makes me question the very judgement of admissions boards for creative writing and poetry. The other thing was that I went to BU's MA program which is lead by Robert Pinsky and Derek Walcott, and I thought their poetry was definitely not that great -- but then again, BU has rejected me twice (pain in the heart). *sigh*, anyway, I'm trying to muster up the courage to apply again this year.

So, please, dear p&w posters, which poets are at which programs which are stellar?

Thanks, Joysan


freeverses
James Hall
e-mail user

Sep 7, 2004, 3:02 PM

Post #2 of 76 (10596 views)
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Re: [joysan] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Dear Joy --

I don't know much about that program, but I do know it's rare to get full funding anywhere. Especially in this economy. But no use second-guessing choices; I'm one of those people who believe things turn out.

The 2 programs I've been to I've really liked. I did an MFA at Bennington's low-res Writing Seminars. The faculty includes April Bernard, Ed Ochester, Liam Rector, Jason Shinder, David Lehman, Amy Gerstler, Henri Cole, E. Ethelbert Miller. (I thought Jane Hirshfield was still teaching there too, but she's not listed on the site; Thomas Sayers Ellis was teaching there when I was in the program, and he was awesome). I studied with Thomas, Ed, April, and Jane. A very fulfilling experience.

I'm doing a creative phd at Houston now. Faculty are Mark Doty, Tony Hoagland, Claudia Rankine, Nick Flynn, Adam Zagajewski, Kimiko Hahn (beginning Fall 2005), and Bob Phillips. I'd recommend the program, now. (When I entered, it was restructuring and I had a really bad workshop experience -- it was hell, but things have changed).

The best thing to do is to go to the AWP site (www.awpwriter.org) and check out the huge list of MFA programs. Do some research on the faculty. Talk to students in those programs.

Anyone's list of top MFA programs in this country will vary. People tend to say programs like Iowa, Houston, Brown, UF, FSU, Western Michigan, Utah, Warren Wilson, UVA, Maryland, Hopkins.....even this tiny list here makes me uneasy.....it's subjective, and the most competitive programs don't necessarily mean they're the best for you. There's a blog I secretly adore and read of an Iowa grad who says his 2 years there were "a wash."

Maybe most competitive is what you need as a poet. But that's a bit alien to me, so maybe my advice isn't so good....And, I think you'll find, especially among younger poets, EVERY program has its competitive edge. It's good that programs are nurturing and supportive too.

In any event, good luck!
-- James


joysan


Sep 9, 2004, 11:19 AM

Post #3 of 76 (10560 views)
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hi thanks for the advice, I want to end up teaching at University level so I wanted to make sure that I received a degree that was earmarked by good poets coming out of the program. certainly two years nearly fully funded would have been so very nice, but I don't mind paying a bit extra for a program which I think will aid me in getting professorships. the funny part is that I love teaching undergraduate students and I have been feeling a little puckish about turning down that part of the opportunity. thanks for the link to AWP, I had no idea that one of the head poets there at the Notre Dame program also translated Swedish poetry. well, I speak, read, and write Swedish, and have considered translation work a viable option for sutstaining myself as a poet.



fermat


Sep 11, 2004, 6:48 PM

Post #4 of 76 (10527 views)
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Re: [joysan] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Perceived rankings are next-to-useless when deciding on an M.F.A. You have people from "name" programs who don't get published, and people from not-as-prestigious programs who get books published. When I was applying to programs five years ago, I dismissed Warren Wilson and Bennington outright but now I see that they produce (WW in particular) top-notch alumni. (In hindsight, both programs were wrong for me anyway, but I did underestimate their reputations.) Reputation does matter in the sense that it may be more competitive to get into the "top" programs, and there is a good chance that if you do get in, the caliber of your classmates will be more uniformly high. But while it's good to be constantly surrounded and challenged by your classmates' good writing, this is no guarantee that your group will be a nurturing, supportive one. The only thing in a sense that is controllable and known quantity is the quality of the teachers (which has no correlation to the quality of the teachers' writings). So if you find a teacher whom you think will be great for you, regardless of school, go for it. One great teacher is all it takes.


fattery
Victoria M. Chang
e-mail user

Sep 12, 2004, 2:48 PM

Post #5 of 76 (10506 views)
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Re: [fermat] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you make some great points. I too dismissed Warren Wilson. I had applied to the "top" programs the prior year, gotten into a lot of them, and couldn't really go for life reasons. So I went to Warren Wilson and it has turned out to be a really solid program. You're right, though. It can be uneven in terms of students, but the faculty is unbelievable--the best around. In my mind, I'd learn the most from them anyway, which has turned out to be true. Plus it is sort of fun to be such an underdog in terms of MFA programs and still manage to get published in good journals, etc. Many Iowans never get anything published or just quit. So do Warren Wilson people. It just depends on the individual, I guess.


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Sep 12, 2004, 5:17 PM

Post #6 of 76 (10499 views)
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Victoria, I really think you sell your program short. Warren Wilson IS a "top" program in reputation. It was in the top 20 in the old US News rankings and has risen since. When I was researching programs I was told that WW is now accepting 5-6 percent of applicants, which I believe makes it more selective than Iowa (!). When I was in a workshop at Iowa I asked an Iowa MFA student to name the best programs; she said Iowa, Columbia, Houston, Cornell, and Warren Wilson. Gerald Stern taught at both Iowa and Warren Wilson and called Warren Wilson the superior program of the two - in fact, he said he thought Warren Wilson was the best MFA program in the country, low-res or high-res. And this was years ago (it may even have been when the WW program was at Goddard). Warren Wilson is no underdog and it hasn't been for a long time.

Probably 10 or 15 years ago low-res programs in general were thought to be a newfangled and inferior "distance learning" substitute for the traditional programs. But as far as I can tell (from just having researched such things prior to my own applications), the grads and students of the established low-res programs these days are publishing as well or better than the grads and students in the traditional programs. The list of student and alumni publications Vermont College's low-res program can produce is jaw-dropping - their grads have published literally hundreds of books. Now part of that is due to large enrollment: It's a huge program compared to many of the traditional programs and big by low-res standards as well. But it's obvious there's little if any stigma attached now to a low-res program versus a traditional program when it comes to publication. I think any stigma that remains is on the academic side, because low-res grads don't get traditional teaching experience.

Anyone who gets in at Warren Wilson should be proud. It's a great, great program.


fattery
Victoria M. Chang
e-mail user

Sep 13, 2004, 10:18 AM

Post #7 of 76 (10474 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

You are right in that low-res programs, particularly Warren Wilson have elevated in "status" lately. And it's a bit unfair of me to say the students are "uneven" never having taken a graduate workshop at other traditional programs. But I still do think that attending Warren Wilson doesn't have the "name" power of let's say, Houston. I think poetry, like a lot of other things builds on itself--meaning that if you have certain credentials other credentials might come a little easier. I've seen so many Houston or Iowa MFAs then go on to big fellowships like Stegner, Provincetown, etc. Okay, I probably am committing the great logical fallacy--Warren Wilson MFAs like me wouldn't apply to those things because we can't/don't want to move. I think Warren Wilson is fantastic, don't get me wrong. But I still think traditional programs do help you get academic jobs, which give you reading opportunities, better name recognition, etc. My point is that traditional programs make it a little easier to "succeed" as a poet, whatever that means.


karenrose


Sep 17, 2004, 2:06 AM

Post #8 of 76 (10305 views)
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MFA Poetry grants/scholarships [In reply to] Can't Post

I just got accepted in Warren Wilson but really nervous about how much it will cost. Does anyone know of any grants/scholarships one can apply to? I'm a minority and I don't know if that means anything (WW has a minority scholarship but they're not doing it for while).

thanks!
karen


hapworth


Sep 17, 2004, 3:13 AM

Post #9 of 76 (10303 views)
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Re: [karenrose] MFA Poetry grants/scholarships [In reply to] Can't Post

Karen, congrats on your acceptance! I'll be applying to WW, probably for the March 1st deadline. I too will cannot go without need or merit based help (that is, if I get in!). If you read through the incredibly long "Searching for Graduates of Low-Residency Programs" thread, you'll eventually see that someone did receive a sizable tuition break based on need, so it is possible. Problem is, you'll need to fill out the FAFSA and hope that your EFC (expected family contribution) is relatively low. Filling out the FAFSA is about as much fun as doing your taxes, but in general, the less you make in a year, the less you're expected to contribute to college and the more the college is expected to help you out (although colleges prefer to help you through loans, not grants or scholarships). I'm hoping A) that I get into WW (fiction) and B) that because of my truly, truly low yearly salary, I receive some sort of non-loan help.

Anyway, report back on how things go. I'm sure that a lot of people would like to hear what sort of financial help you receive. Did you file your FAFSA? What was your EFC? A lot of folk--like me--can't get $20,000 + into debt, so we're hoping you do well. :-)

Hapworth


(This post was edited by hapworth on Sep 17, 2004, 4:22 AM)


edwriter



Sep 18, 2004, 10:24 AM

Post #10 of 76 (10270 views)
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Re: [karenrose] MFA Poetry grants/scholarships [In reply to] Can't Post

Congratulations on your acceptance!

Here's one funding information resource you might want to spend some time investigating. You can search by various categories (including "writing"): http://www.lib.msu.edu/.../grants/3subject.htm

You may also already know about the Annual Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships, which are open to undergraduate and graduate students (in creative writing or English). You must be currently enrolled when you apply, and you must also be an American citizen under 30. See http://www.poetrymagazine.org/...lly_fellowships.html


Good luck!


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



fattery
Victoria M. Chang
e-mail user

Sep 19, 2004, 11:19 AM

Post #11 of 76 (10249 views)
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Re: [karenrose] MFA Poetry grants/scholarships [In reply to] Can't Post

Congrats!! I'm saddened to hear their not doing the Holden Minority fellowship (I'm attending Warren Wilson on that fellowship now). Try the Jacob Javits Fellowship--one of my friends is on there but you have to be low-income. It's a generous package, though.


karenrose


Sep 19, 2004, 1:57 PM

Post #12 of 76 (10241 views)
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Re: [fattery] MFA Poetry grants/scholarships [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you all for the leads! I'll post here what I am able to get, for resource.

Karen


gloviczk


Mar 26, 2006, 12:24 AM

Post #13 of 76 (10137 views)
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Any MFA Programs (Poetry) Still Accepting for Fall 06? [In reply to] Can't Post

Are there any programs still accepting apps (with late deadlines like 4/1 or 4/15?)

Thanks! Peter


zebulon


Oct 7, 2007, 8:04 PM

Post #14 of 76 (9690 views)
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Re: [joysan] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Guess I'm digging up old threads, sorry, but I'm curious about this... or, maybe someone could help. What would people list as their opinion of the top programs right now for poetry? And if you have any idea of the number of students they accept a year.

I've heard like Cornell (4 poetry), Houston (4 poetry) Iowa (around 40? I think), Montana (5?) which are all high on my list, but am I basing any of those on their fiction department's reputation moreso than poetry? I was also thinking FSU, Minnesota, UBC, Austin...

Also, does anyone know of low-res programs with good poetry programs (and good funding packages, or at least some sort of funding)? My wife and I are both applying to MFA programs, but it might be a little optimistic to think we'd get 2 of the 4 poetry spots at Cornell, or even 1 for that matter, so we're thinking maybe one of us could do a low res... Does anyone know if a program would be less/more likely to accept a married couple (or have you heard of it ever happening? haha) Thanks for all the help guys, the prospects of applying are looming awfully dark over me right now.


__________



Oct 7, 2007, 9:13 PM

Post #15 of 76 (9683 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll tell you a 'top' one to avoid: UMass. I know a guy who was so stoked to work with James Tate, only to find out he doesn't really teach. Yes, he'll sit there smoking a cigarette in class, but he doesn't read student work until it's workshopped. And he doesn't lead the workshop, either. That's what second year flunkies are for.

Then there's the students -- the majority of which eschew actual practice, content to turn in those intentionally meaningless, word salad poems that use those hack 1980's French theories as a crutch. (A four year old could write it, but do you see how it like, totally interrogates our capitalist production of meaning?)

He left a broken man. Beware.


six five four three two one 0 ->


zebulon


Oct 7, 2007, 9:52 PM

Post #16 of 76 (9675 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Great, thanks for the tip. Little things like that are very important. I heard that Philip Levine may not be teaching much longer, kind of lowering NYU on my list. I was also sad to hear Gerald Locklin's not going to be teaching at csulb in the Spring, meaning I really, really shouldn'tve left it for my last semester.

I'm really interested in FSU also, because I love David Kirby and Barbara Hamby, and Virgil Suarez is really cool too. But I don't know much about any west coast schools (except Dorianne Laux teaches at Oregon, and she's amazing).


GDClark
George David Clark
e-mail user

Oct 8, 2007, 8:35 AM

Post #17 of 76 (9651 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

For poetry you've got to look at UVA: 5 students accepted each year to work with Charles Wright, Rita Dove, and Greg Orr. Plus one-on-one conferences with a visiting Rea Writer (past years it's been everyone from Mark Stand to Louise Gluck).

Of those you mentioned initially, Iowa's a little lacking on the poetry side in my opinion and Houston pays great but you never know what you are going to get in terms of faculty. It seems like the visiting faculty system could go either way. A teacher shows up really committed to getting the most out of the semester, ready to apply a lot of energy toward student work, or they treat the thing as a paid vacation from their "real" teaching position.

Good luck,
GDC


bodel


Oct 8, 2007, 2:37 PM

Post #18 of 76 (9623 views)
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(This post was edited by bodel on Oct 9, 2007, 12:09 AM)


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Oct 8, 2007, 3:07 PM

Post #19 of 76 (9615 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

That's an interesting question. My low-res program (Queens) is great but there isn't anything in the way of funding as seems to hold true for a lot of low-res programs but I've so far workshopped or taking semniars with: Cathy Smith Bowers, Alan Michael Parker, Sally Keith, Claudia Rankine, Cathy Park Hong. Also on faculty but I haven't worked with yet: BIll Hicock, John Pineda, Robert Polito. There are probably others I am forgetting right now.

I've also enjoyed the seminars taken in the other genres.

I also attended a public lecture at Warren Wilson during their July residency by James Logenbranch so that was really kewl as well. I know a few people in the poetry department there who are absolutely loving it as well. Heather McHugh among others is an advisor there.

You definitely have an interesting predicament. I'd say both apply to full res and low res and see what happens. It will definltey make your decision harder. If I had been able to apply to full res programs I would have picked: Iowa, UVA, and probably some of the NC schools because I am familiar with the faculty: UNCG, UNCW and NCSU.

Good luck!


http://jessiecarty.com


cicconetruth


Oct 8, 2007, 3:38 PM

Post #20 of 76 (9608 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

for a low-res option, consider vermont college. i'm loving my first semester there and the one-on-one experience of working with a poet for 6 months is invaluable. there are no egos and everyone is very down to earth.

low-res doesn't have some of the bells and whistles of a traditional program but you write your butt off, you grow, you network, etc. feel free to PM me if ya have questions. funding is all loans though...


edwriter



Oct 8, 2007, 9:09 PM

Post #21 of 76 (9578 views)
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Re: [zebulon] poetry programs and low-res funding question [In reply to] Can't Post

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but on the funding front, I've posted what I've discovered about funding (outside loan) possibilities at low-res programs here. (And there's as complete a list of low-res programs as I've been able to come up with here, so you can do your own investigating, too.)

Good luck!

Best,
Erika D.


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



hamlet3145


Oct 10, 2007, 7:31 PM

Post #22 of 76 (9524 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

This year's incoming poetry class at Montana consisted of 9 new students.

Our current poetry faculty:
  • Greg Pape
  • Joanna Klink
  • Karen Volkman
  • Prageeta Sharma

Also, we usually have a visiting writer during one of the semesters.


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Oct 11, 2007, 10:18 AM

Post #23 of 76 (9488 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Note on Barbra Hamby:

I've heard that she doesn't really teach in the graduate writing program because of her education level. A friend of mine who graduated from FSU for her bachelor's says that, and as I have been researching FSU as a PhD program option, I haven't seen BH come up on faculty rosters.

Can anyone verify?


heatherchristle


Oct 15, 2007, 8:22 AM

Post #24 of 76 (9415 views)
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Quote
I'll tell you a 'top' one to avoid: UMass. I know a guy who was so stoked to work with James Tate, only to find out he doesn't really teach. Yes, he'll sit there smoking a cigarette in class, but he doesn't read student work until it's workshopped. And he doesn't lead the workshop, either. That's what second year flunkies are for.

Then there's the students -- the majority of which eschew actual practice, content to turn in those intentionally meaningless, word salad poems that use those hack 1980's French theories as a crutch. (A four year old could write it, but do you see how it like, totally interrogates our capitalist production of meaning?)

He left a broken man. Beware.

The inaccuracy of this description is mind-boggling. And my mind is not easily boggled. Except by, you know, Foucault. I mean, wow.


__________



Oct 15, 2007, 5:20 PM

Post #25 of 76 (9384 views)
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Re: [heatherchristle] Best Poetry MFA & MA Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi there. It's simply the account of my friend. I got to hear all about it in real time. Maybe you could post your (outstanding?) experience as well?


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