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writergal


Jun 1, 2012, 2:53 PM

Post #2476 of 2632 (15139 views)
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Re: [karinr] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

karinr, many thanks for your helpful post.

Here are some questions for you and for others:

In your low-res program, how much time are you spending developing your own writing as opposed to the critical work?

I have a toddler and right now the only time I can write is at night. I have maybe two hours a night, and I don't feel this is enough time to produce a lot of pages.

I wonder does being in an MFA program force you to figure out how you can carve out bigger chunks of time to spend on your writing? Meanwhile I'm not so sure I want to spend what little time I have studying theory, although I can see how it is valuable, if not essential. (I was a lit major in undergrad. So in some ways I feel like I've done the critical analysis thing already.)

The bottom line is that I want to finish writing my novel in progress. I realized thru my online workshops that frequent deadlines help with this, as does regular and insightful feedback of my pages from a qualified mentor.

Do I continue to, as you aptly said, cobble together workshops? Or is an MFA program going to be more efficient?

Thanks again.


karinr
Karin Rosman


Jun 2, 2012, 10:44 AM

Post #2477 of 2632 (15105 views)
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Re: [writergal] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

It varied. I'd say 6-12 hours, and for one packet it might have been closer to 15. I didn't really get how to write the papers. They're different from literary critical. Think more like the analytical that you might find in the Atlantic fiction issue but toned down a notch (unless you could write like that out of the gate, in which case, also figure less time for your papers).

If I would have known that I'd spend that much time on my critical papers, I don't know if I'd go through an MFA program, or maybe not this one. *But* it's what gave the learning process a boost and has helped me to examine my own work--which is what I wanted out of the program more than anything else, the ability to self-evaluate. I'm working on my novel now, it's quite tweaked, first from an idea that I got from a class at residency, and then again from feedback not just on my creative work but also my analytical work. I see the arc of the story, which I hadn't before. I mean the setbacks and progressions as well as the characters, even the conclusion.

In the end, I don't think I'll have a submittable manuscript for a while, but I think I'll gave a good submittable manuscript, closer to being a book I'd want to read rather than a book I could write on my own.


pongo
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Jun 3, 2012, 6:01 PM

Post #2478 of 2632 (15035 views)
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Re: [karinr] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

My program (and by that I mean me in the program, not the college) took a lot more than two hours a night. I had a lot of reading to do -- about a book a week -- as well as writing annotations of each book and doing my creative work. During the term, I was probably putting in twenty or thirty hours a week.


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/


karinr
Karin Rosman


Jun 3, 2012, 8:15 PM

Post #2479 of 2632 (15024 views)
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Re: [pongo] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

The 6-12 hrs a week were for writing the critical papers, not reading the books or writing my creative material.


writergal


Jun 16, 2012, 9:18 PM

Post #2480 of 2632 (14634 views)
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Re: [sarahminnies] UCR low residency? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Does anyone have any info on the University of California, Riverside's low residency? I see their ad every month in the magazine and I'm starting to get ready to apply for fall to some places for fiction and want to stay on the west coast, but haven't heard any one talking about that one in particular here as I've lurked...



writergal


Jun 17, 2012, 7:08 PM

Post #2481 of 2632 (14615 views)
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Re: [writergal] UCR low residency? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
Does anyone have any info on the University of California, Riverside's low residency? I see their ad every month in the magazine and I'm starting to get ready to apply for fall to some places for fiction and want to stay on the west coast, but haven't heard any one talking about that one in particular here as I've lurked...


I'm sorry, I don't know why my post isn't showing up. Apologies for the blank posts!

Does anyone have any information on UCR's low res program they can share? Would love to hear from current and former students, especially. Thanks so much!



(This post was edited by writergal on Jun 17, 2012, 7:10 PM)


Kmacc84
Katherine MacCue

Jun 27, 2012, 8:08 AM

Post #2482 of 2632 (14544 views)
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Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Is there anyone from any of the low-res programs that can tell me what the residencies are like? Do you write work while you're there, or is mostly lectures and workshops that focus on work you've already written? Also, which low-res program do you recommend the most for poetry? (That's my concentration.) Do you feel you've evolved as a writer as a result of the program?Do you feel you are competent to teach poetry (or if someone in fiction responds--fiction)? This would be the profession I'd most likely pursue.
I guess my ideal response would also be something that would tell me how each program differs.
I really hope that I get in to one of them. I think I'll be applying next year. I know Goddard has a strong fiction program but the Poetry dept. is not impressing me. Not one of the poetry professors has an MFA, maybe one does. The rest are M.As and I just get the feeling I would not be a good fit there. (Maybe ten years ago I would have been.)


pongo
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Jun 27, 2012, 10:25 AM

Post #2483 of 2632 (14537 views)
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Re: [Kmacc84] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I did not do poetry while I was at Goddard, but I did do a couple of workshops with the poetry faculty at residencies. (And a lot of the faculty has changed since I graduated), but I was particularly impressed by Nicky Morris and Jane Wohl, from whom I learned much that helped my fiction and my poetry.

As to the MFA, my best advisor there, Sarah Schulman, had (and still has) no kind of master's degree at all. I'd be more worried about whether they are good teachers than what kinds of paper they have on their walls.

A Goddard residency depends a lot on your advisor. Some advisors want a lot of new work, some want you to focus on the study plan (which is, really, the main reason for the residency), and some do a lot more workshopping than others. The second most important aspect of the residency is forming a community -- I graduated in '96 and stay in touch with a number of people whom I met at Goddard, even get together every year with a few of them for golf and workshopping.

A lot of the talks and workshops at a Goddard residency are about craft, so they are neither about new work nor old work, but about working on your process. That's the real emphasis there, on understanding and improving your own writing process.

Did it change my work? I got my degree in fiction and now write poetry. How big a change do you want?


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/


Kmacc84
Katherine MacCue

Jun 27, 2012, 1:51 PM

Post #2484 of 2632 (14531 views)
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Re: [pongo] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you Pongo. Your response is helpful. As for why I want my teachers to have a Master's Degree or an MFA, well it's because I know nothing of these programs and want teachers to have gone through what I'll have gone through. How else am I supposed to gauge their teaching skills? Do you happen to know if those professors you mentioned still teach at Goddard? Or are they in fiction? Because if they are still there, I'll reconsider and apply. But that's because you can vouch for them. Otherwise I have no way of knowing, really. I mean, what if I get there and no one understands the direction my poetry is taking or how to nurture it so that it can evolve? I don't want a huge change, I just want to know that when I leave I'll be competent enough to write some good poems and teach for a living.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jun 27, 2012, 3:58 PM

Post #2485 of 2632 (14526 views)
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Re: [Kmacc84] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Nikky and Jane are still there, still teaching poetry (although I think Jane does sometimes work with novelists).

When I was there I knew only one person who complained that his advisors didn't understand his work, and he was working in interactive fiction. One of the characteristics of the Goddard experience is that no advisor is going to try to make you write in her own manner or style. They understand that the function of an advisor is to make you a more perfect version of yourself.

Goddard also is unusual among low-residency programs in that it requires a teaching practicum and also offers a teaching certification option.


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/


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Jun 29, 2012, 11:54 AM

Post #2486 of 2632 (14496 views)
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Re: [Kmacc84] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi,'m

I have my MFA from Vermont, and in fact, I'm at residency right now working as a grad. assist. I'm fiction, so I can't tell you a whole lot about the poetry program, other than I've been very impressed with the poetry faculty at their readings and lectures.

Residencies at VCFA are pretty jam-packed. You have to attend a minimum of 8 lectures and 2 visiting writer presentations. You also attend workshop with your peers. When I was a student, I had almost no free time during residency to write because there were so many things I wanted to attend and participate in. I do know that some people sequester themselves, though, and write while they're here. As a grad. asst., I've had more free time, and I've used it to do some work on my novel.

As for teaching, VCFA doesn't have a teaching practicum, but you have to present a lecture to your peers for your graduating residency. I had no trouble finding a teaching job (adjunct) at a local community college after I graduated. I've taught English comp and creative writing. I certainly felt competent to teach fiction and creative nonfiction. I didn't feel as competent to teach poetry, since that wasn't my emphasis. However, I found strong support from my poet friends in the program who recommended several books that provided a crash course for teaching an intro to writing poetry to college freshman.

I don't know if the MFA or MA really matters for your instructors. You really want to think about your goals for the MFA. I wanted two things: a mentor who could work with me one-on-one to help me improve my craft and/or finish my novel, and a degree that would allow me to teach at the college level.

In general, I found the residencies to be like an extended, very intense, short course or conference. The real work on the writing begins after you return home and start producing packets for your advisor. That feedback is invaluable.

Hope that helps a little.

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


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


karinr
Karin Rosman


Jun 29, 2012, 2:18 PM

Post #2487 of 2632 (14491 views)
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Re: [Kmacc84] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Pongo and Jenniey have already addressed most or your questions, but I wanted to mention that at my last residency at Rainier Writing Workshop an instructor without an MFA or an MA gave a class that tweaked my novel to such a degree that I can now see the arc of it. I thought of his class each time I sat down to work on my manuscript. And for as much as we talk about character driven novels, if there isn't a reason for the character to be and act for 300 pages, then you don't have a novel. I think his lack of program affiliation helped him to present his talk differently and his experience rounds the program out.

It's hard to say how each program differs because most of us will only go through one program. I chose based on talks with the director, and around the same time I read a number of stories by writers whose work is associated with the program (both students and faculty). And then the real push was hearing Kelli Agodon (Letters From the Dickinson Room) on NPR speak about her book and read from it, as well as a brief conversation she related about going to church as a child. (She's a graduate of the program.) RWW is associated with Pacific Lutheran University, and I'm Lutheran, but I didn't want attend a school that might have too strong of a religious affiliation. Indeed, my manuscript deals critically with religion and openly with sex and drugs, and so I was very worried about fitting in. Without speaking to me directly, Agadon and her book indicated that RWW might be a good fit for me. I also want to be fair to my characters, and the mix of participants (I'd say there is an even number of Lutherans and agnostic/Atheists) helps me to realize that wish.

A longer response than I intended. I applaud your process of mulling over "to MFA or not." I went through the same process myself. I've met folks from Goddard, and they had their residency when I was at Centrum. I didn't attend their classes but saw the same exhausted/elated look on their faces when they got out. (There was also a boys football camp going on, all of Fort Worden was whipped those weeks.) I considered that program as well. I'd like to encourage you to look at Rainier Writing Program. I'm in fiction, but have snuck in a poetry class or two. I'm struggling between two classes for the next residency, one that looks closely at the work of David Foster Wallace, and another that looks at the interaction between music and poetry. The instructor in the latter did a beautiful class on the cross over writing of prose and poetry. Having to choose between these classes is driving me to drink. Literally. I'm going to have a cocktail at lunch and make myself decide (though I'll probably change my mind at residency, they let you do that).

Good luck!


pongo
Buy this book!

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Jun 29, 2012, 3:29 PM

Post #2488 of 2632 (14485 views)
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Re: [karinr] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Karin raises an interesting issue. The structures of residencies are very different from program to program, and you might want to look at those. For example, while there are workshops on many subjects at Goddard, there are no "classes" as I understand Karin to mean it. One residency or another might very well suit you better.


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/


dahosek
D. A. Hosek

Jun 29, 2012, 5:07 PM

Post #2489 of 2632 (14480 views)
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Re: [Kmacc84] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I've just completed my first residency at the University of Tampa low-residency MFA. It's a new program, so things are still developing (I'm part of the second cohort ever in the program). As a matter of policy, all instructors at Tampa must have graduate degrees, which unfortunately cuts off some great instructors from being more than guest writers (Arthur Flowers, for example, who teaches at Syracuse in their fiction program has no graduate degree, so he came to our residency as a guest writer, giving a workshop and reading and hanging out with students and faculty for a day or so). It's really hard to judge too hard from the outside whether someone is going to be a good instructor. I've found that the quality of instruction from workshop leaders before the residency was inverse to the writing reputation of the workshop leader.
The U Tampa residency, like most residencies is pretty packed, although there is a designated reading/writing period on Monday morning for people to use as they like, plus a few open holes in the schedule that I dedicated to writing and reading. There were a total of 8 workshops with our faculty mentors and fellow mentees (with one exception, workshops were limited to 5 students—my workshop was the lone group with 6 and that was still a reasonable size). Our poetry cohort is small, 7 or 8 students, the same size as the CNF cohort, while the rest of the students, 31 in total, are writing fiction.
I've found the process very helpful in my development as a writer (I write fiction), partly through the annotation process which I actually began during my applications to programs. I'm looking forward to seeing what my feedback will be during the tutorial period.
Going by output of graduates for low-residency programs, the top schools are:Warren Wilson CollegeVermont College of Fine ArtsNorthwest Institute of Literary ArtsUniversity of Alaska AnchorageBennington CollegeAntioch UniversityGoddard College(this is ranked by # of graduates who appeared in Best American Poetry and Pushcart, adjusting for graduation date and program size.)


---
University of Tampa MFA '14
http://dahosek.com


gmiller1122


Jul 3, 2012, 4:25 PM

Post #2490 of 2632 (14424 views)
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Re: [dahosek] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm curious what made you decide on Tampa. I looked into it when the possibility of relocating to FLA first came up for us. I'd love to hear more about your insights on the program.


"Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved." - Willam Jennings Bryan


dahosek
D. A. Hosek

Jul 3, 2012, 4:49 PM

Post #2491 of 2632 (14423 views)
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Re: [gmiller1122] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Why did I pick Tampa? 1. It was recommended specifically by a writing instructor (he had worked with the Jeff Parker who directs the program in St Petersburg in the Summer Literary Seminars program—as did a number of the faculty and visiting writers and a couple of the students it turns out). 2. I read at least one book by each of the fiction faculty and felt that they would be a good fit for me. The faculty has expanded since then to include even more writers with whom I feel some affinity.
I'm working with Josip Novakovich this term, who was one of the inaugural faculty & whose book Fiction Writing Workshop made me feel that I would enjoy working with him. With the current roster of fiction faculty: Novakovich, Jeff Parker, Mikhail Iossel, Maile Chapman, Brock Clarke, Therese Svoboda and Tibor Fischer, I feel like there are more potential mentors than semesters to work with them during my time at UT.


---
University of Tampa MFA '14
http://dahosek.com


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

Jul 3, 2012, 9:23 PM

Post #2492 of 2632 (14415 views)
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Re: [dahosek] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

I'm working with Josip Novakovich this term, who was one of the inaugural faculty & whose book Fiction Writing Workshop made me feel that I would enjoy working with him. With the current roster of fiction faculty: Novakovich, Jeff Parker, Mikhail Iossel, Maile Chapman, Brock Clarke, Therese Svoboda and Tibor Fischer, I feel like there are more potential mentors than semesters to work with them during my time at UT.



I'd wondered what happened to Josip Novakovich! He was my Bread Loaf workshop leader in 2006. He was at Penn State then, and he invited me to come and look at their program. (It was not a low res program, but I live only 90 miles from there.) I didn't really like it -- thought it was a warmed-over MA in English -- and it has since closed.

He was an excellent workship leader. The material I took was the first 6000 words of what has become The Novel I Have Been Working On For Ten Years (then in its fifth year), and the reshaping and re-viioning I did as a result of that workshop has stayed in place all this time. Just yesterday I looked at some exercises on setting that are in Fiction Writers' Workshop.


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


elissa
Elissa Field


Jul 3, 2012, 10:23 PM

Post #2493 of 2632 (14413 views)
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Re: [dahosek] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Those all sound like great reasons to choose a program. I always loved Josip Novakovich's writing advice, so could see him being a great asset to a program. I've also heard repeatedly great feedback on the annual lit conference (in St Pete?). Thanks for sharing your experience.


http://elissafield.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/...p?id=100001772022683


Kmacc84
Katherine MacCue

Jul 5, 2012, 9:08 PM

Post #2494 of 2632 (14368 views)
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Re: [elissa] Low Res MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Whoa. Thank you all for the wealth of information! I've looked at Vermont College's program and of course love it. I've heard a lot about Rainier's Workshop, and of course Goddard. I looked at U of Tampa but didn't like one of the faculty members, can't remember who it was. I read her poetry and was displeased, haha. But I'm sure its a good program.
Anyway, thanks again to all of you for explaining and decoding some of the mystery surrounding the low-residency program. It does seem to be it's own special thing.


shestartedit
Anjali Enjeti


Jul 13, 2012, 10:40 PM

Post #2495 of 2632 (14307 views)
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Re: [writergal] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
karinr, many thanks for your helpful post.

Here are some questions for you and for others:

In your low-res program, how much time are you spending developing your own writing as opposed to the critical work?

I have a toddler and right now the only time I can write is at night. I have maybe two hours a night, and I don't feel this is enough time to produce a lot of pages.

I wonder does being in an MFA program force you to figure out how you can carve out bigger chunks of time to spend on your writing? Meanwhile I'm not so sure I want to spend what little time I have studying theory, although I can see how it is valuable, if not essential. (I was a lit major in undergrad. So in some ways I feel like I've done the critical analysis thing already.)

The bottom line is that I want to finish writing my novel in progress. I realized thru my online workshops that frequent deadlines help with this, as does regular and insightful feedback of my pages from a qualified mentor.

Do I continue to, as you aptly said, cobble together workshops? Or is an MFA program going to be more efficient?

Thanks again.



shestartedit
Anjali Enjeti


Jul 14, 2012, 11:38 AM

Post #2496 of 2632 (14289 views)
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Re: [shestartedit] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't know why I'm having such difficulty posting to this forum...But here it goes, for a third time!

Writergal,

Just like full residency MFA programs, there are some low-residency MFA programs that are more studio based than others-- where you'll spend far more time doing your own creative work, rather than theory. Queens University in Charlotte is one such program. (I've talked to Queens alumni as well as the On-Campus Director specifically about this.) I'm applying to low-res programs this fall, and have no desire to spend so much time analyzing literature. I have two novels I'd like to work on.

I'd contact current students/alumni/program directors of programs you like to find out specifically what the workload will entail.

Best of luck to you.

Anjali


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Jul 16, 2012, 2:12 PM

Post #2497 of 2632 (14259 views)
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Re: [shestartedit] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Not sure whom I'm replying to here (Writergal?), but I can only speak from my own experience at Vermont. You should plan on committing approximately 20-25 hours a week to the low-res MFA during the semester. And yes, I do think one of the benefits of the low-res MFA is to teach you how to structure your time/life for productive writing. I know I am certainly more organized and prolific after completing my MFA.

As a former undergrad English major, I can tell you that the critical theory paper is not the same as a critical analysis paper in the MFA program. Critical theory papers discuss such things as theme, symbols, patterns, etc. The MFA literary analysis essays address issues of craft: How does the writer use dialogue to develop character? How does the writer use metaphor to create magical realism? Why does the writer choose to write only in narrative with no dialogue? That sort of thing. You are looking at the writing craft under a microscope. I was dubious about the value of these essays when I started my MFA, but I learned so much about craft. Those essays taught me how to read as a writer. Now I recognize a lot of the tricks of the trade when I read good literature. Before, I just knew that the work was luminous, special in some undefined way.

At Vermont, you write essays and creative work for the first two semesters. The creative work consists of approximate 25 pages every 3-4 weeks. The essays are 2-3 pages every 3-4 weeks. The third semester you work on a critical thesis about an element of craft that appeals to you. This is a paper that requires some extensive research and includes citations and a bibliography. The fourth semester you develop your creative thesis, usually a minimum of 75 pages of creative work ready for publication.

Hope that helps answer your questions.

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


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


shestartedit
Anjali Enjeti


Jul 16, 2012, 3:02 PM

Post #2498 of 2632 (14255 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Jeanne,

No matter who you meant to reply to...Thank you. This was very helpful!

Anjali


sanssouci


Jul 26, 2012, 2:00 PM

Post #2499 of 2632 (14178 views)
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Re: Low-Residency MFAs (app essays) [In reply to] Can't Post

Has anyone here done Bennington's "reading life" essay? It seems pretty straightforward but I don't really know how to approach it. Did you discuss, more generally, the authors/books you like and the journals you read etc. Did you relate this back to your own writing? Did you write a more critical response to a few books citing specific elements of craft? I'm not sure how broad or specific this thing has to be.

Also, about the critical essay for schools like Warren Wilson, did you use secondary sources? I know it's supposed to deal with craft more than theory, but I was wondering how academic it should be in terms of style/structure/tone.


shestartedit
Anjali Enjeti


Jul 26, 2012, 3:12 PM

Post #2500 of 2632 (14172 views)
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Re: [sanssouci] Low-Residency MFAs (app essays) [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Sanssouci,

I'm not applying to Bennington, but to Warren Wilson.

For WW, I am not using any texts/articles aside from the novel that I'm writing the essay about. I've no idea whether that's what you're supposed to do, but for my topic, I didn't really need any other outside sources.

Good luck!

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