Mar 10, 2008, 11:00 AM
Re: [sayra] Michigan Program?
Hello. As a second-year poet in Michigan's MFA, I'll weigh in all of this, painful as that is, because this does seem like a really pivotal moment for Michigan's poetry program, and one that recruits should be aware of. I've never written on this boards before and will mostly aim here for bullet points. (Also I drafted this yesterday evening, so I apologize if this is more in dialogue with StroudB than Sayra - god knows I don't know the etiquette.)
The pros of my experience:
-- This is a well-funded program. Well-funded for three years for some. Well-funded for two years for others.
-- The atmosphere remains surprisingly uncompetitive and supportive.
-- I've received good feedback in individual meetings with a couple of members of the faculty here, though you must be outgoing if you hope to meet one-on-one with the members of the faculty who are available for conference.
The bottom-line/why I'm posting this:
People should be aware of the fact that the poetry program, which has been weak in terms of faculty involvement, is in a really tenuous situation. Due to a recent job hire - one that many students feel in the dark about in terms of how student feedback was taken into account and how candidates were evaluated - we are (as Stroudb indicated) losing one of our most valuable mentors and resources. Hopefully the candidate who was selected will accept the job so that our faculty presence doesn't actually shrink in the fall, but regardless of that it's important that applicants know that, for years now, dissatisfied poets within our program have been directed to a resource/mentor who, after this job-hire, probably won't continue to work for free. At best, we have an unknown entering our system and replacing an unofficial but highly useful, valued and respected known. And at worst - ? In any case, this moment was key for a poetry program that has been "one-down" for years, and we're now looking at the very real possibility that access to professors or professor-like figures is about to get harder to come by.
I do want to reiterate that I am grateful to this program and I can also speak to that with anyone interested. The funding is great, I've met some great people, and really I've learned a lot about writing and reading and have watched my poems and my classmates' poems improve considerably during our time here. Time itself is a great gift, as is being in a community of writers.
These are all important and nuanced considerations, so I would be happy to answer any questions in more depth over email.
(This post was edited by teapotter on Mar 10, 2008, 1:04 PM)