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susanjoy
Susan Newell

Apr 8, 1998, 7:39 PM

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Thanks for checking in at this topic! I'm interested in hearing from
graduates and current students of low-residency MFAs. Specifically I'm
trying to identify the strengths of the following east coast programs:
Vermont College, Bennington, Goddard, Warren Wilson and Antioch
(although I know theirs requires a local "mentor"). If there are
transferees out there, who changed programs for particular reasons,
I'd be interested in hearing from you. Areas of possible discussion:
1) Applications sent vs. acceptances / reason you chose the school you
did. 2) Nature of residencies (layout of programs / workshops) 3)
Faculty / student numbers -- how many faculty did you work with? Were
they assigned or did you get an opportunity to choose? 4) Biggest
personal challenge of a low res program -- did you continue working?
Full time? Part time? . . .and anything else you'd like to mention. If
there are specific items you think are helpful but perhaps not
appropriate to an open forum (i.e. a particularly bad experience at a
certain institution) you may post to me directly at sjn2@psu.edu.
Thanks, Susan

(This post was edited by motet on Apr 7, 2006, 8:39 AM)


rk
Ren Powell

Apr 9, 1998, 9:27 AM

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Susan, thanks for starting this topic. I have also been checking into
low residency progams. I've narrowed it down to Antioch and Goddard
because of the way the bio's of the "mentors" were presented. (Goddard
offers greater freedom of mixing genres, but Antioch offers more
translation seminars.) But, how do pay for it when I am still paying
off my undergraduate loans? I am wondering if anyone out there can
tell me what kind of scholarships there are, or is it realistic to
even hope for that kind of help?


rk
Ren Powell

Apr 9, 1998, 9:29 AM

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Susanne, I've gotten a hold of the reading lists for several of the
MFA programs and began to study on my own.


pongo
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Apr 9, 1998, 12:38 PM

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I'm in my last semester at Goddard. It was the only place I applied,
mostly because I didn't do much research and it was the only low-res
program I knew about. But when I got the information I had some
questions about the place; most of the faculty listed among their
interests gay and lesbian studies, and I was writing science fiction
at the time, and I wondered if there was really a place for me. So I
called, and spoke to Nora Mitchell, co-lead (then lead) faculty of the
program, and she said that the advisors had no trouble dealing with
genre fiction, but if they made me uncomfortable I shouldn't apply.
Everyplace else that I wrote for information is still sending me stuff
asking when I'm going to apply, and Nora suggested that Goddard might
not be right for me. That's what assured me that it was, in fact, the
right place for me. It's a fairly political place, not in terms of
issues but in terms of overall orientation. There aren't a lot of
Republicans, let's say, and precious few Democrats. (This is Bernie
Sanders territory, the only Socialist in Congress; his wife is on the
Board of Trustees and was the interim provost while we were looking
for a new president.) I've worked with three advisors. Some people
work with only two, but you aren't allowed to work with anyone more
than two terms. I've been very happy with all three, and thrilled with
Sarah Schulman, with whom I'm on my second term. Advisors are assigned
to first-term students, but after that you can make requests, which
are almost always honored. There are eight or ten faculty, and about
forty or fifty students, so the workload for the faculty isn't too
bad. Finding time to do the work is the hardest part, since you're not
giving up the rest of your life. dmh


amy
Amy Holman

Apr 9, 1998, 4:20 PM

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I spens 20 hours a week fitting writing in, so I think I could handle
that time elementt. I got Warren Wilson's info, because I know many
who've been pleased with it. Although I write poetry and fiction, I'm
interested in the former. I never liked school, but I've undergone a
sea change and I want attention for my work and to put my attention
towards work I like and to discovering work. Also, when I teach the
business side of writing I think how great it would be to teach it in
conjunction with writing, and for that I need time to develop the muse
and to get a higher degree. Any other Warren Wilson folk out there?


susanjoy
Susan Newell

Apr 9, 1998, 6:46 PM

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Ren - From what I've seen the aid is need-based only and in the form
of loans. David - Thanks for the input. The social / political
atmosphere you mentioned is particularly helpful. I have talked to
another Goddard student from my (very conservative) central PA home
base and can appreciate why she finds the residencies so energizing.
You are apparently holding down a job during this program. Would you
mind elaborating upon those demands and how they tie in with your home
life demands? I expect to have a supportive home environment if I get
into one of these programs, but of course 'managing those
expectations' will be essential. Amy - yes, Warren Wilson does look
good, doesn't it? Let's hope we can find some willing spokespersons.
Susan


bard
William Rudolph

Apr 9, 1998, 10:55 PM

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Just accepted to Vermont College. I'll keep an eye on this topic and
let you know how it goes.


rk
Ren Powell

Apr 10, 1998, 8:45 AM

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Congrats, William!


mrabb
Margaret Rabb

Apr 10, 1998, 2:45 PM

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I'm also considering Warren Wilson -- Like Amy, the time commitment is
close to what I'm doing now. I'd be very happy to keep working at my
current job. It's the thousands of dollars that worries me. Any advice
about how folks have been able to swing the low-residency tuition
would be very helpful. Bennington looks like the only school that
offers a merit-based scholarship -- the Jane Kenyon awards -- but
they're for the first semester only (I asked). With two kids heading
for college in the next few years, I'm in a quandary. Thanks in
advance for any thoughts and experiences. Peggy


pongo
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Apr 13, 1998, 1:28 PM

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Susan, I'm working part-time, so I have no trouble getting time to do
the writing. (Actually doing the writing is another matter.) It helps
that I don't have to work full-time to pay the bills, and not everyone
is in that position. But of course Goddard doesn't insist that we
finish in four consecutive semesters. Twenty hours a week sounds about
right to me. How the workload works out is that you have to read and
annotate (write a roughly three-page critical essay on) one book a
week. You also have to include new creative work in each packet (you
send a packet of your work to your advisor every three weeks).
Obviously, if whoever you may be living with is willing to help you
keep that time available, it's a lot easier. dmh


rk
Ren Powell

Apr 13, 1998, 6:46 PM

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David, You said that Goodard doesn't insist that you finish in four
consecutive semesters. Is there a time limit?


bard
William Rudolph

Apr 14, 1998, 5:13 AM

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Ren, I don't know about Goddard, but Vermont allows a single one
semester break--after that ANY breaks are the exception. In my case
I'm hoping for a sabbatical for one of the two years--and I'm using
inheritance to help defer costs (my grandparents were teachers, so I'm
confident they'll understand), after that... DEBT, my friend, DEBT!


pongo
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Apr 14, 1998, 2:20 PM

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I know one person at Goddard who just does the fall semesters. I've
known a couple of others who took one semester off to work on the
book, then another later on. The school doesn't like you to take off
two straight, but it does make allowances for your life. dmh


susanjoy
Susan Newell

Apr 14, 1998, 9:50 PM

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William and David - Did both Vermont and Goddard accept you on a
rolling admissions basis? In other words, you applied and then heard
within ___ number of months that you'd been accepted? The materials
I've received from those schools suggest it works that way, but for
Warren Wilson it looks like you apply on a schedule similar to a
residency program and then would have to wait for the "decision
window" to find out if you're accepted. Susan


bard
William Rudolph

Apr 14, 1998, 11:29 PM

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Yes, Vermont is a rolling acceptance--and you can defer until the
semester after you are accepted. Good luck, S-Joy!


pongo
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Apr 15, 1998, 12:47 PM

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I heard from Goddard within about six weeks. One residency, my
roommate had heard about his acceptance about a week before, and
hadn't had time to read all the materials about what to bring and so
on. Definitely rolling. dmh


amy
Amy Holman

Apr 16, 1998, 8:53 PM

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How about recommendations. Who are you getting for that?


bard
William Rudolph

Apr 17, 1998, 12:43 AM

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Recent workshop teachers, editor of a college journal which is
publishing a poem of mine, president of the state poetry society to
which I belong.


amy
Amy Holman

Apr 17, 1998, 4:48 PM

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I'm not in workshops right now for poetry. My whole poetry world
dispersed a feew yers ago. A friend of mine graduated from Houston's
three year program a few years back, and works in freelance radio.
Part of why I want to do this is build back a community.


susanjoy
Susan Newell

Apr 17, 1998, 6:19 PM

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Amy, I concur. I never really established a writing community after I
left college (many moons ago). I have one writing professor that I've
managed to stay in touch with, so that reference is good. But just
this week I got up my nerve to ask a woman who taught a journal
workshop I was in a few years ago and see once in awhile. She doesn't
really know my fiction, but as she says, she knows enough about me to
know this type of program (which she had been in) would be perfect for
me. I think that's part of it, finding someone who knows you well
enough to know that you and a low residency program are a good match.
Susan


pongo
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Apr 18, 1998, 10:03 PM

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Can't help you on recommendations: I got two award-winning and very
well-known authors to recommend me, but most people didn't work in
book publishing before applying to MFA programs. dmh


amy
Amy Holman

Apr 21, 1998, 3:22 PM

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They'll be great for blurbs later, too.


oodle
John Wetterau

Apr 24, 1998, 11:13 PM

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Susan, I had a great experience at Vermont. I'd written poems for many
years and was moving into fiction. Floundering around. Decided to seek
help. What is a story, anyway? At its heart? The Vermont people let me
in even though my undergraduate degree was in computer science. The
faculty is solid, culled from many different universities, a wide
range of interests and experience. The program is practical and well
thought out; it accommodates writers of quite different levels of
experience. I had so many poor educational experiences that I feel
compelled to let people know about a good one. It is expensive. You
can't hold a demanding full time job and do the program justice. (I
tried. It took me 9 months to finish 6 months work.) But, I found what
I was after, what a story is. I stopped after one semester, but if I'd
had the money I would have finished. I just paid the last installment
on the loan a couple of months ago. I never felt bad about sending a
payment-- the acid test.


susanjoy
Susan Newell

Apr 29, 1998, 4:22 PM

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John, Glad to hear of your good experience. Hope you might get a
chance to pursue it again (if that's what you want.) How did you find
the atmosphere at Vermont? What about the type of people who attended?
Did you get to attend two residencies? I have heard some things about
the workshop environment - not positive - but it was all third hand.
Anything else you might want to add would be great. Any Warren Wilson
folks out there? Susan


amy
Amy Holman

May 7, 1998, 6:03 PM

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I've got my rough draft of my basic essay finished--how laborious. But
the fun essay, about a book is next.


susanjoy
Susan Newell

May 11, 1998, 3:38 PM

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Amy - are you applying for January? You're at the same spot I am -
draft of essay done and book essay is next. Although I enjoyed the
personal essay process more. It was good to sit down and really think
through where I've been. Where are you applying? Or should we take
this 'off line'? I notice you have a pw.org address. Do you work at
P&W? Susan


amy
Amy Holman

May 11, 1998, 5:59 PM

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Either format of response is fine, Susan. I'm applying for January,
yes, and only Warren Wilson, since I've been given enough reaction to
it over the years that I wasn't interested in the MFA. I know
graduates. I like the more formal approach than the loose one at
Vermont. Some structure is needed, especially in the low-residency. I
like writing about writing, but that essay made me go back to college
and I feel I've regenerated since. I wish that with the second essay
it could be a comparison or contract between two books of a specific
theme or subject. I like making connections. I can't decide what book
I want to use. What about you?


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

May 28, 1998, 5:11 PM

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I was wondering if anyone knew the acceptance rate at these low
residency programs. I know that the "normal" programs can run between
1% and 10%.


rk
Ren Powell

May 28, 1998, 5:42 PM

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Well, gee, that's what I wanted to hear ;-) ren


pongo
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May 29, 1998, 8:53 AM

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Unfortunately, since I was accepted, the only people I know are the
ones who were accepted (one of whom was rejected when he first
applied.) But I think you can call the admissions offices or the heads
of the programs and ask them about this, or check them out in a
reference like Barron's. dmh


bard
William Rudolph

Jun 3, 1998, 9:06 PM

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Since I wanted the same information for a sabbatical application, I
asked Vermont College. Their answer was vague. With the number who
differ to a later semester and those who don't end up attending at
all, the person I spoke with said they had no accurate numbers. She
guessed somewhere between 15-25 percent, which seems high to me.


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Jun 4, 1998, 11:45 AM

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I received similar information (less than 20%, I was told) when I
asked about Vermont's MFA program. I asked a representative of Goddard
the same question and she told me they accept 70%!!! I almost dropped
the phone. Is that possible? I have already decided to go to Vermont's
program, so it's immaterial now, but I'm just passing on the info to
others who are interested. Shawn


adria
Adrianne Harun

Jun 5, 1998, 12:51 PM

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I'm a fiction writer who graduated from Warren Wilson two years ago.
Let me sound cymbals and drums in praise of the program. The faculty,
which changes with each residency, was consistently outstanding --
supportive, generous, and tremendously talented. Not having
experienced conferences/workshops before, I took for granted the lack
of hierarchy at WW which I've heard pervades some other programs,
notably Bennington. The faculty at a residency is extremely
accessible. It is, in many ways, a learning residency for them as
well. Faculty almost always attend each other's classes and take an
active part in discussions. The community also changes from residency
to residency to some extent. I found the group I came in with a
remarkable bunch, and, living in a fairly remote area, these writers
are still the backbone of my writing community. The gold in the
program was the exchange with the supervisors. The classes and the
lectures (available on tape to WW students after each residency) were
almost always thrilling on some level. The workshops really depended
upon the participants but, in general, I found I gained more in
learning how to read a manuscript- in-progress (and transfer that
knowledge to my own self-editing) than I did from any particular
discussion of my work. My only caveat with the program is that the
community changes continually. It is not, despite the overreaching
program ethics, a closed system. But, of course, that's true for any
program. I've had prospective WW students who've read stories of mine
in literary mags (and noted in my bio that I am a WW grad) call me. I
don't think it would be out of place to call the WW office and ask if
you could contact a current poetry student/recent grad in your area to
get a poet's pov. I worked two part-time jobs throughout the program.
Writing consumed every spare minute. My family went through a
disgruntled stage, emerged a lot more independent with a great deal of
respect for my writing time. It was, in retrospect, a blessedly
obsessed time that informs my writing habits yet.


snarkout
Susan Katz

Aug 4, 1998, 11:50 PM

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I've just stumbled into this discussion and I am what is known as a
"Goddard/Warren Wilson" alum since I was a student in the program
during its first incarnation at Goddard before it moved to WW. But I
want to add another echo to the trumpeting of the program's praises.
Enrolling in that MFA program was one of the smartest things I've ever
done. And twenty years later I still feel connected to other writers
who were there when I was (both students and faculty). I was in the
poetry side of things (though ironically I'm now publishing fiction),
and it was a great experience.


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Aug 26, 1998, 9:41 AM

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Can anyone here give advice for the application essay? What approaches
worked? Also, one school wants a rec from a teacher. My BA days were
so long ago, I'm afraid anyone I'd ask is dead. Ideas?


pongo
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Aug 26, 1998, 10:48 AM

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I applied for my MFA program 26 years after I got my BA. Instead of a
faculty recommendation, I used people who knew me and my writing, who
had some claim to being experts (published authors, that is). My own
essay was about why, after so many years, I decided to give up what I
had been doing -- working in publishing -- to get an MFA. dmh


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Aug 27, 1998, 4:25 AM

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Thanks David. I have professionals to use as recs from my
freelance/public relations work. None of them are familiar with my
creative writing, but they will talk about my professionalism, blah,
blah. Hope that's good enough. I don't have authors to vouch for me.
I'm working on my essay right now. I guess they must all be similar to
some degree -- why we feel the need to write fiction/poetry, why what
we're doing now is not doing it for us... It's been interesting for me
to try to pin-point these reasons. If nothing else, it's been a
valuable soul-search.


pongo
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Aug 27, 1998, 8:49 AM

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I talked a little bit with the head of my program -- Goddard -- after
I got there, and it was my essay that sold them on me. (The writing
samples had to be up to snuff, of course, but the essay was the big
thing.) And it was largely what you're talking about -- my
relationship with text and with fiction, and how I wanted to change
that relationship by getting a degree. It was precisely the level of
intense personal exploration that hooked them. dmh


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Aug 28, 1998, 4:40 AM

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I have the Goddard application on my desk. What made you choose
Goddard over say, Vermont, or Warren Wilson? Did the degree (have you
finished?) do for you what you expected?


pongo
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Aug 28, 1998, 9:52 AM

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I chose Goddard over the others because it was the one I'd heard of.
My research was shoddy. On the other hand, I'm very pleased with my
experiences there. I just got the degree in July, and I start teaching
on Monday, so that's one major goal achieved. I also wrote a novel
that is far beyond anything else I'd done in the preceding 25 years,
beyond anything I thought I could do. Working with Sarah Schulman was
difficult, but a joy overall (I did two semesters with her). I learned
more about myself and about writing in the last two years than in the
25 I worked in publishing. I also learned a lot about critical
writing, enough that I have one paper published and another possibly
publishable with a few minor changes. So I think I got everything I
could have hoped for out of it. dmh


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Aug 30, 1998, 5:48 AM

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David: Your news is so encouraging. What I want to walk away with is a
novel I've been thinking about....I think I could do it on my own, but
I want the mentoring first because I need it, I'm not so confident yet
in my fiction skills. And second, having worked in journalism and PR,
I got feedback all the time on my work -- Whether it was an editor
saying: develop this line more, or the finished published piece (and
paycheck) that validated my take on the assignment. Getting that
feedback along the way, instead of sweating out a whole book and
hoping I'm heading in the right direction, will save me years of
frustration and many more gray hairs. Now, I just have to get accepted
in one of the schools... And, congrats and good luck. Where are you
teaching? --Mary Jo


pongo
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Aug 30, 1998, 10:40 PM

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Thanks for the congrats. I'm teaching at Rockland Community, St.
Thomas Aquinas, and Marist Colleges. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Sep 28, 1998, 3:42 PM

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Are there any Bennington grads or current students out there? I
applied for the January term at Vermont, Bennington and Warren Wilson.
Today I found out I was accepted to both Vermont and Bennington in
Poetry. I'm still waiting to hear back from Warren Wilson. I have a
friend at Vermont so he's filled me in on lots of the details there
(he loves it), but I don't know anyone from Bennington. The director
of the program called me and explained how the program focuses more on
the craft of poetry than the actual content, which is exactly what I
want. I've already spent 8 months (a winter semester and a summer
session) at a regular residency MFA program which focused more on
content and was so large I never got any time with or feedback from
the writers. It was a poor experience so I withdrew from the program
and applied to the low-residency programs because they really focus on
the mentoring apsect, the master teacher the apprentice. I've heard
wonderful things about Warren Wilson, but I haven't heard if I got in
yet or not, so i'm not going to spend too much time thinking about
that yet. Reb


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Sep 28, 1998, 3:43 PM

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er . . . that should be "the master teaching the apprentice" :)


gravity
Ben Fishelman

Sep 28, 1998, 10:25 PM

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oh, same difference.


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Sep 29, 1998, 6:21 AM

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Rebecca: You've heard from Vermont and Bennington already? yikes. I
applied in fiction and only one word so far from Vermont -- "Your
application is complete and we are considering it." I'm hoping
international mail is just slowing the process, and that it's not any
indication of my acceptance. How long did it take to hear for others
out there who applied in fiction? Anyway, Rebecca, congrats. Let us
know which one you choose. --Mary Jo


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Sep 29, 1998, 10:06 AM

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When I applied to Goddard I heard back in about five weeks. (Of
course, I was -- as the head of the program later told me -- their
dream applicant. Background in publishing, decent list of
publications, etc.) dmh


waterfence
Derek Bacharach

Sep 29, 1998, 3:54 PM

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Where is Goddard? What is the tuition like for these low residency
programs?


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Sep 29, 1998, 4:29 PM

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I don't know about Goddard, but the tuition for Warren Wilson, Vermont
and Bennington range from $4600 to $4900 per semester. These numbers
also include room and board during the two week residencies. It's
cheaper than most out-of-state tuition for full residency MFA
programs. Reb


otrouve
Olet Trouve

Sep 29, 1998, 8:41 PM

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Hi, I was interested in Bennington too, and was wondering why I never
heard anything about them. But the fact that they offer no aid
whatsoever, at least for their fiction program, says something about
them. I read somewhere, in one of the brochures, I think, that Warren
Wilson makes its decisions during the month of October, so no one
should be concerned if they haven't heard from them yet. I've applied
to W.W. and Vermont, but I'm afraid I'm anything but a dream
candidate! Olet


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Sep 30, 1998, 9:17 AM

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...and, me, I'm a dreamy candidate. And, it's only been about 3 weeks,
so I guess I shouldn't be sweating it yet. I didn't think any of the 4
east coast low residency programs offered aid (loans and maybe basic
need grants, but that's it). Bennington awards two $2000 poetry
scholarship based on the manuscript submitted. And, Bennington gets
some top name faculty for its residency workshops plus seems to focus
a bit more on publishing than the others. Although, all the programs
are affiliated with good names in some way or another. David, just
curious, were your publishing credits fiction? --Mary Jo


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Oct 1, 1998, 10:22 AM

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Goddard is in the same range of cost as the others, and has a rolling
admissions policy. They offer no scholarships, although there is a
grant that all incoming students get if they apply for it, and the
loan program at VSAC (Vermont Student Assistance Corporation) is
pretty good, including rebates from the state of Vermont. I had a
couple of stories and a collaborative novel published, and a bunch of
other fiction sold but not published (long, long story). I'd also
published a bunch of short nonfiction. dmh


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Oct 1, 1998, 10:48 AM

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Mary Jo, I received my acceptance to Vermont in about six weeks. I was
accepted for Summer admission in fiction but had to defer to the
Winter semester. Don't give up hope! I look forward to seeing you
there (I say with my fingers crossed). Shawn


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 1, 1998, 12:40 PM

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I called Warren Wilson a couple of days ago to find out about the
status of my application since both Vermont and Bennington gave me
until October 7 to decide. I got a message on my machine from WW
informing me that they would be making decisions at the end of next
week. So now I need to decide if Warren Wilson really is my first
choice (and try to wait it out) or just accept somewhere else and get
it over with. Also, those of you who haven't heard yet from Vermont or
Beninngton, that doesn't mean you didn't get in. Once they figure out
how many spots they filled by their first round of offers, they'll
send out the second round. Reb


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 2, 1998, 4:29 AM

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I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but it makes it so hard to write new
stories.....


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 2, 1998, 4:34 AM

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And, David, if it's not too personal, give us the short version of the
long story, so we know what problems to avoid.


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Oct 2, 1998, 10:50 AM

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Very true, Mary Jo. I'll keep my toes crossed then, but that makes
walking difficult. Anyone else out there at (or planning to attend)
Vermont College?


waterfence
Derek Bacharach

Oct 2, 1998, 3:59 PM

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Anyone . . . Goddard . . . which state is it in? . . . anyone


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Oct 2, 1998, 4:17 PM

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Derek, Goddard is in Vermont, just a few miles south of Montpelier I
believe.


waterfence
Derek Bacharach

Oct 2, 1998, 4:43 PM

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Unbelievable: three low-residency programs in Vermont. It's the
Low-Residency State.


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Oct 2, 1998, 5:22 PM

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Yeah, I think that the official state nickname!


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Oct 3, 1998, 9:01 AM

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Okay, Mary Jo, the short version: I sold (with another author) a
critical anthology of science fiction, but the market collapsed before
we delivered the manuscript and the publisher decided not to publish;
I sold a Young Adult novel (through a packager) but they changed
editors at the publisher and the new editor hated everything about it
(the original editor loved it and wanted it longer); I sold several
interactive text computer games (including an adaptation of THE WIND
IN THE WILLOWS), through a packager, and the company went out of
business before any of them were released. dmh


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 5, 1998, 3:18 AM

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David: ouch, what luck! The moral of the story -- even when we writers
do good work, get professional publishers interested, and make the
deal, we still get screwed. Exactly why are we in this business? Are
writers masochistic? (Maybe that's another topic....) It sounds like
all your projects are still viable, that they could get picked up
elsewhere. Are you trying or too busy teaching? I guess the real moral
is, keep on working. Do what you love. ...and I wondered too what it
is about Vermont and low-res schools. Could it simply be defensive
marketing? I'd love to see a few other schools go this route (that is
low res, not defensive) -- the New School in NY is already set up with
a sophisticated distance learning program in many fields, but their
undergrad workshops are not at a level that attracts serious
writers/students consistently. It's open enrollment. Are there other
low- res programs besides the vermont 3 and warren wilson? Anyone?
--MaryJo


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Oct 5, 1998, 9:58 PM

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One of the reasons, I suspect, for all the low-res programs in Vermont
is that Goddard is in Vermont. I mean, not just their MFA is low-res:
of the roughly 450 students in the college, only about 120 are in the
on-campus program. So it was one of the first demonstrations that the
system worked for any kind of degree program, and other schools in the
state may have learned from it. And the original Goddard MFA program
got defunded and moved to Warren Wilson; the current Goddard program
was restarted later. (And if I had been in a position to move to go to
school, I would have given very serious thought to two years in
Montpelier.) dmh


jay313
Jay Johnson

Oct 6, 1998, 11:31 AM

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A practical question for low-res MFA grads: Was it worth the money? I
looked into several of the programs mentioned her and was fired up
about them until I received the materials in the mail that included
the tuition cost. Ouch! $5,000 a semester, plus the travel cost. Do
you guys feel it was worth it? Would you do it again?


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Oct 6, 1998, 8:21 PM

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I think it was worth it. I got a couple of first-rate critical papers
out of it (one published and presented), I wrote a novel much better
than anything else I'd ever done, and I'm teaching full-time in my
first semester after graduation. What else is there to get out of a
program? dmh


jay313
Jay Johnson

Oct 7, 1998, 11:51 AM

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I'm not really interested in teaching or academia, just in reaching my
full potential as a writer. So, a follow-up question: Did it help you,
any of you, achieve a level you wouldn't have reached otherwise?


waterfence
Derek Bacharach

Oct 7, 1998, 6:28 PM

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David: Where is Montpelier?


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Oct 7, 1998, 8:51 PM

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Montpelier is in central Vermont, about ten miles from Plainfield,
where Goddard is. Montpelier is also the home of Vermont College, as
well as the New England Culinary Institute (or one of its campuses,
anyway), the birthplace of Admiral Dewey, and the only state capital
that doesn't have a MacDonald's. dmh


waterfence
Derek Bacharach

Oct 8, 1998, 11:02 AM

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I can never remember Vermont's capital when I play name the state
capital game. Thanks for the info. Anyone (David) have any idea the
driving time from NYC to Montpelier?


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Oct 9, 1998, 4:02 PM

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I'm about an hour from NYC (roughly due north) and generally allowed
five or six hours for the trip. dmh


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 10, 1998, 12:03 PM

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David and all -- just heard from Goddard. I was accepted. Yea! Waiting
on the two others before I decide what to do. --Mary Jo


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Oct 11, 1998, 8:50 PM

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Congrats! I was at a science fiction convention this weekend and wound
up on a panel with someone I'd never met, but who turned out to be
another Goddard grad. Had a nice chat. We pop up in the strangest
places. dmh


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 12, 1998, 3:21 AM

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David, practical question. How much direction did your mentor provide?
Looking at the materials I've just received, I see I have to design
much of my own program, which is fine when it comes to my own writing.
But I want some (a lot of) direction in my study/reading. I can easily
gravitate toward my favorite authors for in-depth study but I'm doing
that reading already. I want to discover new (to me, that is) stuff
and new writiers. Will my mentor push me into new places? --Mary Jo


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Oct 12, 1998, 10:26 AM

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Much depends on who you're working with, and at Goddard in your first
semester you don't get a choice. Jane Wohl is more likely to let you
pick all your own readings; Sarah Schulman (who doesn't take a lot of
first-term students, in any case) or Kenny Fries might throw out your
whole list and give you another one. Now, when you design your study
plan you are doing that with your advisor. It's perfectly all right to
ask for suggestions; that's one of the things the advisors are for.
But have a good idea of what you want to learn, both in terms of your
own writing and critically. This is a chance to expand your critical
background and horizons, and I strongly recommend taking advantage of
it. dmh


susanjoy
Susan Newell

Oct 12, 1998, 3:43 PM

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Hello all! I started this topic months ago and have finally revisited
it. I went ahead with applying to Goddard and WW. Got into Goddard,
but not Warren Wilson. That's perhaps what I expected, I guess, after
hearing the acceptance percentages. I'm slightly disillusioned by an
old comment I saw over at another MFA topic which said Goddard accepts
whoever could afford it without student loans. This comment was from
someone who worked there. But I had the earlier comments from David
(if you remember?) and from other alumni and am now ready to get
charged up for the experience. I feel I have a hell of a lot to learn
with twenty years between my BA in English/Creative Writing and now.
Twenty years in technology services which I hope hasn't killed off too
many creative brain cells. There's so much snobbiness out there when
it comes to talk about these programs, I think you just have to decide
you want to do it and plow ahead. Hopefully your love of the written
word is what determines how much you get out of the experience. Susan
Newell


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Oct 12, 1998, 8:38 PM

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Almost everyone I knew at Goddard was taking out loans. Including me.
dmh


otrouve
Olet Trouve

Oct 13, 1998, 3:23 AM

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Rosemary--have you made your decision yet? Mary Jo--congrats on
Goddard. I echo your concern about the mentors. For five thousand
dollars, you deserve all the attention and direction and inspiration
that you need, far and above what you could ever do on your own. But,
ofcourse, not too much that you get waylayed, sidetracked, or
whatever. I haven't gotten in anywhere yet, though I applied in the
eleventh hour, but I'm already worrying about the cost/value ratio,and
wondering if I would do better buying thousands of dollars of books or
a plane ticket to some inspiring place. Not that I would. But I have
no desire to teach, I just want to learn as much as I can about
writing, and I know that writing in isolation is the long way to do
it, and that going to workshops every week and reading stacks and
stacks of student writing is...well, beginning musicians don't spend
twenty hours a week listening to other beginners practice.


susanjoy
Susan Newell

Oct 13, 1998, 3:21 PM

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David, I didn't word that correctly. The "dig" from the other topic
was that if you have the money, you get in. It really doesn't matter.
Even if it is true, all schools want students with staying power - and
I have to believe that equates to a combination of financial resources
and aptitude/committment for the program. I'm psyched about Goddard,
really! Told the boss last night about this decision and how I'd love
part time work in January. He asked if this was definite and as soon
as I told him yes, I knew it was a done deal. I had a slight panic
attack on my way home from work. ("Agh! what have I done?") But it
faded and was replaced with elation. It reminded me of my stay at
Vermont Studio Center a few years ago. There, you were identified
either as a visual artist or a writer. The first time someone asked me
which I was and I said I was a writer, I had a whole new self image.
It was incredible. Olette, don't lose hope. I imagine that programs
like this can keep you hanging for a while yet. I went through that
indecision for a few years and just decided I couldn't do it on my
own. If for some reason you don't, you should make plans to do
something like Vermont Studio Center for a few weeks this winter. Mary
Jo, where else did you apply besides Goddard? susan


lexy
Alexis Adams

Oct 13, 1998, 6:32 PM

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Hi all, Just found this discussion group and, as I'm thinking of
applying to low-res programs this fall, was elated with the discovery.
I have, however, some of the same concerns as Olette. For $5,000 per
semester, I think I'd rather do a full-time program where (I think)
I'm ensured more guidance, peer support and criticism and so on.
Problem is, I live far from such a program and am not in a good
position to move. So, I'm looking at Goddard, Vermont College and
Warren Wilson. Does anyone have further recommendations? I've also
visited the Website for Antioch in L.A., but I haven't heard mention
of it on any of these boards. I'm also looking at workshops,
conferences and retreats and, coincidentally, stumbled upon the
Website for Vermont Studio Center yesterday. Susan, I'd love to hear
of experience there. Also, has anyone here ever attended an AWP
conference? The one slated for April of next year looks fantastic.
Albany's a long way from my front door, but I'm giving serious thought
to making the trek. Again, would love feedback. Thanks, Alexis.


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 14, 1998, 9:19 AM

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Susan, I applied to Vermont College and Bennington in Vermont, not
Warren Wilson, because I missed their deadline. Have you definitely
said yes? Did or will you apply for aid? (We may meet there! Want to
carpool?) alexis, Bennington runs ads in P&W, if you want to check
them out. Olette, which schools did you apply to? And, David, I'd love
it if my advisor threw out my reading list. I want someone to say --
Read this! Look what you've been missing!! And then I expect my own
work would just blossom as a result! --MaryJo


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Oct 14, 1998, 10:13 PM

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It sure worked for me. Sarah Schulman made me read (among other
things) THE GHOST WRITER, by Philip Roth, and reading that book
transformed my own novel. dmh


jay313
Jay Johnson

Oct 15, 1998, 10:31 AM

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Just looked up the Goddard site and saw that they required a teaching
practicum of one semester. This seems to assume all MFA candidates are
seeking to become teachers. I wonder why this is a set-in-stone
requisite, or if it can be waived? Thanks to David's info and
advocacy, I'd been leaning toward this program until I saw this. Does
anyone know off-hand?


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Oct 15, 1998, 11:06 AM

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I just wanted to step in here with some information. I carefully
researched the Warren Wilson, Vermont College, and Goddard programs. I
especially talked to people who had attended the programs. I want to
warn you that many (and by many I mean 50% or so) of the Goddard
attendees had less-than-glowing reviews of the program. This is not
saying that Goddard is bad, but the stories I heard about it pushed me
away from it. Vermont College got a much better response from the
people to whom I talked. A couple people had complaints about one of
the faculty, but otherwise it was some very positive feedback. Warren
Wilson got the most positive feedback, but I was only able to speak to
6 people who went there, as opposed to the dozen or more I spoke to
from the other programs. As far as the percentage of people accepted,
these are the numbers I got when i talked to each program's admissions
team. Warren Wilson accepts the lowest percentage of applicants, at
around 20%. Vermont College accepted between 20-25%. Goddard told me
that they accepted around 70% of their applicants. I'm not saying this
is necessary a positive or a negative, just that's what I was told
when I asked. If you believe the US News and World Report rankings,
then Warren Wilson is the best of the three, followed by Vermont
College, then Goddard. This is an admittedly subjective ranking
according to the source, so again take this with a grain of salt. In
the end, I think you get out of it what you put into it. I read some
works from the faculty of the three different programs, and I decided
to go with Vermont College. The faculty-writers there seem to be the
best suited to help me acheive what I want to acheive as a writer.
Find the program with the faculty and the "curriculum" that can best
help you, and dive right in. Good luck, Shawn


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 15, 1998, 1:10 PM

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When I spoke to Warren Wilson a couple of weeks ago, the director told
me that they were accepting 4 or 5 folks in poetry for the Spring
semester out of approximately 47 applicants. That makes around a 10%
acceptance rate for this term. The director also told me that they
would be making their decisions by the end of last week. I still
haven't heard from them yet. I've pretty much given up. I accepted the
offer at Bennington for the spring semester. I'm pretty excited about
the whole deal. Reb


susanjoy
Susan Newell

Oct 15, 1998, 6:08 PM

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In response to Shawn's comments: I, too, spoke with people from
Goddard and WW. WW definitely got the most glowing reviews. I was
leaning towards Vermont until I heard (somehow, I can't remember) that
they are more studio then academic and allow established writers to
kind of float in and out of the program for the MFA part. That may not
be true, but I definitely needed the academic push. There were also
people at Goddard that transferred from Vermont. (The opposite could
be my safety net if Goddard doesn't work out.) I also had two Goddard
people pushing me hard. Still, if I'd gotten into WW I know I would
have gone. Mary Jo - yes, I've said yes. Deposit's in. It would be
nice to know someone other than a January graduating student before I
go! Keep me posted on your decision. Jay - the Goddard teaching
requirement put me off too but I understand it is fairly liberal - it
is not a "whole" semester's work but is measured in hours, which I
don't recall are that much. It doesn't have to be done in a formal,
school-system setting. Even though I don't plan on teaching, I don't
mind having that "teaching" credential as part of my academic record.
Lord knows I avoided it as an undergraduate for four years. Maybe
that's why I ended up so far afield. Alexis - Vermont Studio Center
was great! It was a first for me. At the time they offered two week
residencies and only a few longer ones. Now, they're mostly a month
with some two week opportunities. I voiced my objection to that
change, as did others that attended when I did, the year before it was
done. I wrote more new, fresh material than I ever had before. Was
surrounded by talent and genuinely warm and caring people from all
over the country. The feedback I received from Valerie Miner and Ann
Hood was what I needed to hear, having lacked a writers' group. I was
only one of two writers who was not in a writing job (ie. teaching,
publishing, etc.) which was strange. But I loved it! Okay - enough
wind for one entry. Susan


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 16, 1998, 4:05 PM

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I got my rejection letter from Warren Wilson today. Actually, it was a
bit of a relief. I waited as long as I could, but then I had to decide
between the other schools without knowing my status at WW. Now I don't
have to wonder if I would have made the same decision if I had also
been accepted at WW. Reb


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 17, 1998, 12:37 PM

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Rebecca: I just heard today from Vermont College; I'm on their waiting
list for January and am guaranteed a spot for summer. They said they
had so many applicants, and my application was one of the late ones
received, not a comment on my writing package. I'd like to believe
that rather than that I was last pick.... I'm waiting on the
Bennington Writing Seminars. People here and in the other MFA topic
have said good things -- then I'll make my decision. I'm eager to get
started. I don't really want to wait until the summer program for
Vermont. I haven't replied to Goddard yet. So maybe I'll see you there
still... Shawn: didn't you research Bennington also? Or did you just
discount it from the beginning? --Mary Jo


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 17, 1998, 12:42 PM

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or susan, maybe I'll see you at Goddard... --Mary Jo


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 17, 1998, 4:38 PM

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Mary Jo: Good luck with hearing from the rest of schools. Let me know
what you hear from Bennington. They said they're accepting 8 people
this term into their poetry program (better odds than Warren Wilson).
Reb


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Oct 17, 1998, 11:20 PM

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Mary Jo, I didn't come across Bennington in my research. It must not
have been on the lists of MFA programs that I was working from, so I
couldn't discounted it--I guess it was never counted to begin with. I
just surfed over there and it looks comparable to the other three, and
the faculty looks respectable--this is fiction that I am talking
about. Sorry I couldn't be of more help, but others have given good
advice as well. Write well, and it won't matter where you go! Good
luck! Shawn


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 18, 1998, 6:40 AM

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I'm doing fiction. I will end up at one of these Vermont schools, and
it will be nice to be in touch with someone prior to arriving there.
Shawn, I may have missed it, but did you finish the program at Vermont
already, or are you in the middle of it, or just getting ready to go?
And, Rebecca and Susan, what kind of work are you doing now?
Continuing to work on your own? Aming for new stuff to offer during
the workshops? What reading are you doing? --Mary Jo


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 18, 1998, 6:41 AM

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--uh, that's "aiming for new stuff..."


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 18, 1998, 5:28 PM

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Mary Jo: I'm doing mostly poetry. I was in an MFA program until August
when I decided to switch. Since then, I've been doing some new writing
and editing old stuff on my own, but mostly reading. I'm in the middle
of Jane Hirshield's book of essays on writing poetry "(Nine Gates")
and I just finished a bunch of poetry books ("The Simple Truth" Philip
Levine, "The Book of Nightmares" Galway Kinnel, "Lower-Class Heresy,
T.R. Hummer to name a few off the top of my head.) Last month I went
to the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival and spent about $150 on books,
so I have a huge pile that I'm trying to get through. I also am doing
some more research on the faculty at Bennington so I can figure out
who I will request to be paired up with this coming semester. Reb


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Oct 18, 1998, 8:25 PM

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Mary Jo, I will begin the Vermont College program in December. I speak
based on the experience of others and not on my own. Shawn


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 22, 1998, 9:05 AM

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Reb: The Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival -- is that the one in
Waterloo, NJ? I used to live up there (still have a house near there,
as a matter of fact.) I've been reading poetry a bit lately. Not to
your in-depthness (I'm a writer? What kind of word is that?) Poetry
invigorates my (fiction) writing so much. I read fiction (s.s. and
novels) to see the mechanics of the work, but poetry for the
inspiration. Right now, I'm flipping through Bloom's Best of the Best
American Poems, and the 1998 Best Poems. Some wonderful things in
both.... Still no word from Bennington, and I'm leaning towards
Vermont. But I have to wait for a spot to open...Is it terrrible to
wish someone drops out? (Not you Shawn :-) ) Not for tragic reasons,
of course, I'll just hope they can't come up with the tuition this
term....


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Oct 22, 1998, 9:11 AM

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I hope to see you in Montpelier in December! Keep me (all of us)
posted. Shawn


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 22, 1998, 6:39 PM

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Mary Jo: Yeah, that's the festival. It was wonderful. Thousands of
people were there. I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. You
might want to send an e-mail or make a telephone call to Bennington.
It seems like a response is a little overdue by now. If your choice
ends up being limited to Vermont, that's still good news. My friend up
there absolutely loves it and I've talked to several very satisfied
alumni. Reb


lexy
Alexis Adams

Oct 22, 1998, 8:18 PM

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Most of the postings I've read here refer to Bennington, Vermont,
Goddard and Warren Wilson. I'm going to make a leap over to the Left
Coast and ask what (if anything) folks have heard about Antioch LA's
low-residency program. Also, has anyone heard anything about
Southampton (NY) University's brand new MFA program? I spoke to the
department's secretary and learned that they offer a very flexible
low-residency option, but I don't know much beyond that. Thanks in
advance!


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Oct 24, 1998, 10:48 AM

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Alexis, I haven't heard anything about the programs you mention -- but
I think Antioch LA has a home page. And, it's about time other schools
starts offering the low residency option. As a strategic marketing
move, it makes so much sense for them. As for us, it only makes sense
if the programs offer quality writers/instructors. New programs will
need a few years to work out the kinks. Reb: I'm envious you were at
the poetry festival! Autumn is a melancholy time, anyway, and missing
home adds to it. Plus, waiting out these
acceptances/rejections...yikes, I'm a basket case. I did e-mail
Bennington, and was curtly answered along these lines -- "we said we'd
get back to you at the END of Oct. That's not yet." Hmmph. I'm sure
they're waiting for others to accept or decline their first offers,
before they eliminate the rest of the list. A letter to that effect
(like Vermont sent) would have been so much more polite! (I worked in
a private school. I know it's not nice to piss off potential
students.) -- Mary Jo


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 24, 1998, 1:22 PM

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Mary Jo: Yikes, that was a curt e-mail. But I wouldn't take that
personally. They're probably getting a lot inquiries right now and the
person who has to respond is probably overworked and tired of the same
e-mails. But you're right, it should have been phrased differently.
Reb


lexy
Alexis Adams

Oct 25, 1998, 11:12 AM

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Thanks, Mary Jo, for your reply. I'm sorry to hear about the response
you had from Bennington. Sounds like someone was having a bad day and
you received the brunt of it. I checked out Antioch's Website. It
looks like an interesting program, one that weaves some social theory
and issues into its classes, which appeals to me to a degree. On the
other hand, my day to day life is rather swept up in local issues of
political debate, so it might be nice to escape to a school where
literature and writing are the sole focus. I wish I could talk to
someone who has some insight on Southampton's program. Does anyone
know if programs tend to give out names and contact info for current
students? Good luck, Mary Jo, on admissions.


susanjoy
Susan Newell

Oct 30, 1998, 1:50 PM

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Alexis, When I was researching the low-res programs, I had some luck
with the Admissions office providing email addresses for alumni, so
give it a try. It was very useful. Antioch's OH campus had a low res
MFA (and probably still do) that required you to have a local mentor /
faculty-type person that was willing to work with you on your
curriculum. That was a few years ago so it might have changed. Their
west coast arrangement was still in its infancy. susan


lexy
Alexis Adams

Nov 1, 1998, 1:41 PM

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Thanks for the insight, Susan. I'll pursue those e-mail contacts and
check out Antioch in Ohio. Best, Lexy.


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Nov 2, 1998, 6:34 AM

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Rebecca: Last night just read Robert Bly's Bennington poem in the 1998
Best American series -- he wrote a poem a day during his stay at the
96 (or 97 residency.) Check it out! very apropos! --MaryJo


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Nov 3, 1998, 1:26 PM

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Mary Jo: I was not aware of the poem, but will definately look it up
this week. Thanks. The end of October has passed, did you ever hear
from Bennington? Reb


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Nov 6, 1998, 3:14 AM

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Reb: yes. I'm on the waiting list for Bennington in January. The same
for Vermont College. I have decided not to do Goddard, and wait it
out. Vermont was very up front and said they doubt a spot would open.
It seems way more fiction people applied than usual. Both schools were
very reassuring about the quality of the work I submitted, and said
the waiting list was a result of timing and more applicants than open
spots. (The admissions people must be used to hearing self-doubting
writers ask "but am I good enough?" !!) Which was good to hear. But, I
haven't quite resigned myself to the fact that come January, I won't
be in the workshop as I planned. I still have a shred of hope that
I'll be able to go. However, my realistic side forced me to start a
new story this week. No sense waiting. Ready to move on.... --Mary Jo


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Nov 7, 1998, 6:01 PM

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Mary Jo: Sorry to hear about the waiting lists, but I guess it isn't
that bad. The worst case scenerio is that you'll have a choice for
July. (I'm assuming that like Vermont, Bennington will accept you next
session.) Waiting sucks, but not as much as rejection. Your manuscript
must have been pretty good for them to still consider it late. I'd
take this as just a small delay in starting your MFA, but not a delay
in furthing your writing. Good luck! Reb


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Nov 9, 1998, 3:50 AM

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Reb, thanks. and good luck to you in the January program. I'm
heartened by the fact that I didn't get an outright rejection -- but a
little depressed that I wasn't among the first group accepted. I am
telling myself, however, that it was all a matter of timing. (I did
post my application packages two days before the deadline.) To
complicate matters, I'm thinking of applying to Warren Wilson now. I
really wanted to go to the Jan. session. I even quite my job to give
myself the time to devote to a writing program. I guess, a change of
focus now is needed...my serious writing will just have to be
completely self-directed for the next 8 months or so. I have the time,
so no excuses. I just have to be careful that I don't fill up the days
volunteering -- I'm a sucker when the school calls. I'm on the school
board, and that's busy work enough. But tomorrow, I'm a chaperone for
a trip to the Anne Frank huis, and Thanksgiving's coming up, so
they'll need help with the program.... I find it difficult to work
when I don't have a "real" deadline in front of me. As I'm sure many
writers do. Any suggestions out there? --Mary Jo


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Nov 9, 1998, 1:49 PM

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Mary Jo, I'm sorry too to hear about the waiting you will have to do.
Here is a suggestion. Contact someone new in each of the programs you
hope to go to. Ask them to send you the reading lists or schedules
that they will have to follow. This will both help you decide which
program is more your proverbial cup of tea, and it might also give you
a "head start" on the work you will have to do when you do enroll with
a program. Just a suggestion. Shawn


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Nov 11, 1998, 8:25 AM

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Shawn: great idea! I think I'll start by asking the admissions office
for the reading lists/schedules. If that doesn't work, I'll hit you
and Rebecca for Vermont and Bennington. :) --Mary Jo


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Nov 11, 1998, 8:35 AM

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I would be more than happy to share my stuff with you. The "reading
list" will probably be different for each person in a program
depending on the mentor that he/she chooses and the goals/interests of
the writer.


lexy
Alexis Adams

Nov 15, 1998, 3:27 PM

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I'm planning a trip to the east coast in April to visit low-res MFA
programs. Of course, they include the biggies, Bennington, Vermont
College and Goddard, plus Southampton on Long Island. Are there any
noteworthy (or lesser known) programs I'm forgetting? New England is
my destination, thus the omission of Warren Wilson. By the way, I'm
planning my trip around the AWP annual conference in Albany, NY.
Anyone here planning to attend the conference as well? For that
matter, has anyone here attended any AWP conferences in the past?
Thanks, Alexis.


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Nov 16, 1998, 7:03 AM

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Alexis -- tell us about Southhampton. I don't think it's been
mentioned here before. It is a real low-residency? How about a link or
address? THanks. --Mary Jo


lexy
Alexis Adams

Nov 16, 1998, 4:41 PM

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Mary Jo, Southampton's MFA program commenced in the fall of '97. Their
"low-residency" option allows students to attend two semesters on
campus and then to complete the rest of their work independently. Some
of the on-campus work can be completed during their summer intensive.
I haven't heard much about the program, but I was pleasantly surprised
by the *phone call* I received in response to a query letter I sent
via e-mail requesting literature and application materials. The
program's secretary (also an MFA student) called to tell me the packet
was in the mail and did I have any questions?! It floored me. I'm sure
that's not a great criterion upon which to judge a program, but I
can't help but take it into consideration given the horror stories
I've read here regarding communication from other, more established
programs. Teachers include Indira Ganesan (fiction), Kaylie Jones
(fiction), William Hathaway (poetry, I think) and Roger Rosenblatt,
who directs the program. I've heard (and this was a criticism) that
the program draws from the Hampton's literary community quite a bit
for its marketing and less so for its instruction. Some of those folks
include Kurt Vonnegut, Peter Matthiessen and Shana Alexander. There's
no Website for the program yet, but you can get a sense of the rest of
Southampton U. from this: http://www.southampton.liunet.edu For
further info, contact: info@southampton.liunet.edu Good luck! I've
talked quite a bit with instructors, students and friends of the
program, so if you have any further questions, you're welcome to ask
them of me here, or by e-mail at the following address: lexy@wtp.net
Cheers, Lexy.


lexy
Alexis Adams

Nov 16, 1998, 4:46 PM

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Oops, I take that back. Robert Pattison is the director of the
program...


lexy
Alexis Adams

Nov 16, 1998, 5:48 PM

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One more correction: the program started in the summer of '98 (not
'97).


valfiora
Valerie Fioravanti

Nov 17, 1998, 9:36 AM

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Lexy, Kaylie Jones was the most popular/requested instructor at the
writer's org I used to work for. Everyone submitted ms. for her
workshop, again and again, and her students tended to stick with her.


lexy
Alexis Adams

Nov 17, 1998, 5:15 PM

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Valerie, Really? That's great news. I have to admit to being quite
intrigued by Southampton and having that bit of information about
Kaylie compounds it. I actually talked to her on the phone last week
and she was *very* warm and incredibly enthusiastic. The way I see it,
even if there are still kinks to work out at Southampton, the fresh
enthusiasm that comes along with new a program is enough to make me
take the leap and choose this over more established schools. Heard
anything about Indira Ganesan?


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Nov 18, 1998, 4:04 AM

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Alexis-- thanks for the info. Definitely worth an inquiry. --Mary Jo


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Nov 24, 1998, 9:08 AM

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ANyone out there? Last night Vermont College called -- I'm in for
january! Hooray! A few openings came up when fiction people decided to
switch into poetry. Shawn -- was one of them you? --Mary Jo


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Nov 24, 1998, 9:52 AM

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MJ, WOO-HOO! We'll have to party down in the snow next month. I didn't
change to poetry, so we will be going through all this together.
Congratulations on your acceptance! I look forward to meeting you in
person come the New Year. Shawn


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Nov 24, 1998, 1:24 PM

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Mary Jo, Congrats, congrats, congrats! I'm sorry I won't get a chance
to study with you at Bennington, but I'm glad to hear you'll be able
to start in January. I have a friend who's there in poetry and he
absolutely loves it. You're going to have a good time and get a lot
out of it. I just know it. Reb


lexy
Alexis Adams

Nov 25, 1998, 2:21 AM

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Congratulations, Mary Jo! That's wonderful news. Those of us who are
just beginning the process of researching and applying to low-res
programs will appreciate any insight you and Sarah can supply. I hope
you keep us posted on the VC experience. Rebecca at Bennington, too!


mjo
Mary Jo Jerome

Dec 1, 1998, 2:31 PM

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Shawn, I look forward to reading your workshop piece, which you
probably sent off weeks ago. Mine goes to Louise tomorrow. See you in
December! And thanks for the congrats, all. Good luck around. I'll
post in to let you know how goes it. -- Mary Jo


nonficchick
Sue Resnick

Jan 4, 1999, 10:01 AM

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Hey, I am in the low residency program at Goucher College in
Baltimore. It is only for creative nonfiction, but it is fabulous. Two
weeks in the summer and the rest from home. great mentors: lauren
slater, Lee gutkind, Jane Bernstein, Julie Checkoway (pres of
Associated Writing Programs). I went from being a decent freelance
journalist to getting an agent and a publisher for my first book
through this program. I highly recommend it if you're a nonfiction
type. Also, Alexis: I am planning to go to the AWP conference, but I
haven't registered yet. Have you? I also haven't attended any in the
past. Sue (suekush@erols.com)


lexy
Alexis Adams

Jan 4, 1999, 11:00 PM

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Wierd, wierd, wierd, Sue! Sorry to introduce myself this way, but I
just learned about Goucher's program today after stumbling on its
Website while doing a search on Susan Orlean, a writer I hold in high
esteem who appears to teach at the summer Mid-Atlantic Writers'
Conference. So, to find your posting today is a wonderful coincidence,
as I'm keenly curious about Goucher's program. While studying fiction
at the traditional low-res programs (Bennington, VC, etc...) is high
on my list of priorities, I've a strong interest in non-fiction, too.
I'd love to hear more about your experience at Goucher; would you mind
if I contacted you with more specific questions about the program, and
possibly your journalism experience, via e-mail? I am still undecided
about the AWP conference, only because I live in Montana and Albany is
obviously a long trek. But it looks like an exciting time, and my
husband and I are planning a trip east in the spring anyway, so why
not make it April? I think the earlier you register, the better. Given
the list of writers and events, I imagine the conference could sell
out relatively soon. I'm glad you made an appearance here! Please drop
me a line at lexy@wtp.net or leave a message here to let me know
whether you'd mind my peppering you with a few questions. Best, Lexy.


maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Jan 19, 1999, 10:11 AM

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So happy to find all of you here. I've been thinking about a
low-residency program for too many years. I've had some great writing
and editing jobs (currently do freelance editing, mostly) but as I get
older feel more and more the pull to write from the *heart.* What I'm
looking for in an MFA program is community and structure. It's too
easy to NOT do "my own" writing. Family commitments (i.e. kids) mean
low-residency is the only way to go. I have been in touch with a
Warren Wilson grad who loved the program. Have also talked with
Vermont folks who were generally positive. What I've been reading here
has reinforced what I've heard elsewhere. By the way, Warren Wilson
has a great web site with course descriptions. It has inspired some of
my reading lately--helped me discover Andrea Barrett's fiction, for
example. I hope those who just attended your first session will find
the time to let us know how it went. Thanks to all of you. I will
continue to tune in for info and inspiration (too many folks I know
think it's crazy to even think about spending the money on this . . .)
Mary


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Jan 22, 1999, 10:39 AM

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Just got back from my first residency at Bennington and WOW was it
wonderful. Going there from a full-residency MFA program I was
pleasantly surprised with the program. The faculty were impressive
based both on their literary achievements as well as their commitment
to teaching. The majority of the lectures (both visiting faculty and
graduating students) were out-of-sight. The workshops were small and
very productive, I had more poems workshopped in those 11 days than I
had during an entire semester at the last MFA program. As far as
community is concerned, your chances of building one are much easier
at a low-residency program. Sure, you're only there for 11 days every
six months, but you eat and live with the rest of the students, so it
happens much faster. I've made quite a few friends who I plan on
sending my work to during the rest of the semester. Most of the folks
I met there are very commitmented to their writing. I have a friend at
Vermont college who feels the same way, so I am a big promoter of the
low-residency style programs. It's a fantastic way to get an MFA. Now
I have to get to work on my first packet due (February 8). Five to ten
pages of new poetry, two papers, two rewrites of old poems and a very
long reading list. Reb


smerwin
Shawn Merwin

Jan 22, 1999, 12:18 PM

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I have to second Rebecca's sentiments. I just got back from my first
residency at Vermont College and I have only positive things to say
about the program thus far. I won't go into details, but you can e-
mail me if you want more information. Everything was great except for
this woman I met named Mary Jo . . . Shawn


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Jan 23, 1999, 5:34 PM

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Anyone familiar with low residency programs in the PacNW? Tamara


maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Jan 24, 1999, 3:35 PM

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Thanks Reb and Shawn for your postings. I am hoping to be where you
are in a year: just back from my first residency. I haven't heard of
any low-residency programs in the PacNW. Except for Antioch West, they
seem to be clustered in the East (particularly Vermont). Mary


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Jan 24, 1999, 11:01 PM

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Antioch West... California, right? Tamara


maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Jan 27, 1999, 1:52 PM

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Southern California. L.A., I think


lexy
Alexis Adams

Jan 28, 1999, 12:01 AM

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It's so good to hear that you all enjoyed your first residency stints.
Thanks so much for keeping us posted! Tamara, Antioch's program is in
L.A. They have a Website which offers quite a bit of information,
including current faculty bios, admissions procedures and on.
Everything but tuition details, I believe. (Antioch charges about the
same as everyone else). Aside from Antioch West, I'm afraid most if
not all other low-res options are found back east -- a pity for those
of us on the Left Coast! But, actually, I'm rather excited about the
prospect of spending time in New England or anywhere along the
Atlantic Seaboard because it's all new territory for me. If I can find
it in my mess of bookmarks, I'll post that Antioch url here.


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Jan 28, 1999, 12:54 AM

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Thanks Alexis. I've seen their ads in P&W too, I could get it from
there as well. What part of the Left Coast are you from, anyhoo? (I'm
returning to WA state--Bainbridge Island--after 12 years in Chicago.
Grew up mostly in Vancouver, USA) Tamara


lexy
Alexis Adams

Jan 28, 1999, 10:59 AM

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Tamara, Since we're carrying on a tandem conversation of sorts, you've
probably already read this up in Choosing an MFA Program, but no
matter. I live in Montana, so not really *on* the Left Coast as I
indicated, but I once lived in Seattle and also on Lopez Island, one
of the San Juan islands, as you probably know. Bainbridge is a
wonderful place. What a change from Chicago! Are you glad to be going
home?


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Jan 28, 1999, 1:57 PM

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So glad it hurts to be here waiting out the formalities. If I say
more, I risk offending Midwesterners. Tamara


lexy
Alexis Adams

Jan 28, 1999, 4:48 PM

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Say no more, I understand. I myself did a five year stint in St. Paul,
Minn. Yes, it's a great city, but I'm a Westerner, and I guess it
really never leaves your blood. I always found myself scanning the
horizon for some sort of break in the landscape, be it mountains or
ocean...


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Jan 29, 1999, 5:41 PM

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Amen. And I appreciate green trees in winter and temperatures that
rarely dip below freezing, and snow you must drive to to enjoy, and a
house that doesn't need an air conditioner in the summer. T


lexy
Alexis Adams

Jan 29, 1999, 6:44 PM

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Well, now, I must admit, we do get our share of snow and cold temps
here in Montana, but at least we get blue skies rather than endless
seasons of grey.


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Jan 30, 1999, 1:02 PM

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You know, growing up in gray makes me crave it, though I must also
admit that, like today, Illinois does have a great many wintry blue
skies. But when it is overcast here, I feel all cozy and at home.
Guess it's all about what one is used to. Alexis, did you say that UW
has a great MFA program? Are you aware of past and/or present
teachers, visiting writers, etc? T


lexy
Alexis Adams

Jan 31, 1999, 11:55 AM

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T, Oops, I meant *Minnesota's* slate gray skies, which seem very
different to me than the enveloping, rather soft gray of the Pacific
Northwest, which I love. The drizzle, the fog settling over Puget
Sound, the wood smoke, the green canopy of forest -- it's all very
cozy and, in fact, that environment puts me in a writerly mood much
more than Montana's big, blue expanses do. I've always thought I'd be
much farther along in my writing career if I'd stayed on Lopez Island!
I'm not sure who teaches at UW. I have two friends there now who seem
to like it very much, and it has a good reputation, out West, at
least. I do know they require proficiency in a second language (or, at
least, they used to), which immediately disqualifies some applicants.
They have a Website and, while I don't know what its url is, I imagine
you'd find it easily by doing a search on Yahoo. I think UW's main
page might be http://www.uw.edu, but, again, I'm not sure. You might
also check WWU in Bellingham. As for low-res options, Antioch's
program looks really intriguing, and it only requires a residency of a
couple weeks each year, I believe. Keep me posted on your search!


lexy
Alexis Adams

Jan 31, 1999, 11:58 AM

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Tamara, the url I posted is wrong. Follow this link
http://www.washington.edu/ to UW's main page. You should be able to
find the Creative Writing program easily from there.


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Feb 1, 1999, 2:06 PM

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Thanks Alexis! Tamara


maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Feb 4, 1999, 3:06 PM

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I wonder if there are any grads and/or current students of
low-residency MFA programs who are also parents of school-age or
younger children and willing to share their experiences about
balancing (or not) family demands and your MFA work. I know that's a
really open-ended question, but I'm interested in any stories you have
to tell, advice, warnings, nightmares . . . You can see, I'm thinking
this could be a problem. Ok, let's be more positive: tell me the fears
that haven't come true, the one about the child who didn't come down
with chicken pox the night before you left for a residency, how your
kids really see you as a role model now that you're being true to your
own dreams, stuff like that. Mary


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Feb 5, 1999, 12:40 PM

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Mary, I'm only halfway inside that predicament, being the full-time
parent of an infant and a preschooler. I am not currently writing in a
low-residency MFA program, though the option presents itself a lot.
But for me, it seems almost an impossibility, considering that I don't
have lots of childcare resources to get me through it. So I have
decided to just wait until both kids are in school, which is what? 4
or 5 years away? I know, what a bummer, but in the meantime, it is all
I can do to keep up a busy writing schedule. Who needs more pressure?
Tamara


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Feb 5, 1999, 7:14 PM

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Now that I think about it, I don't recall anyone who was in the
Goddard program when I was there who had kids in grades K-8. There
were one or two who had kids while in the program, and a fair number
who had kids in high school (or college), but I can't think of any
whose kids were in grammar school. dmh


maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Feb 5, 1999, 9:12 PM

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I've been in touch with one woman who did the Warren Wilson program
when her two kids were in middle school and high school. She also held
down a full-time job. (I know, I think she's amazing, too.) Her
message was: It isn't easy, but it can be done. A supportive
spouse/partner and/or many friends would seem to be essential, in any
case. Mary


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Feb 6, 1999, 6:26 PM

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I don't have children either, but there were quite a few people in the
program at Bennington with children (infants and on up the age chain).
I believe one woman had to leave the residency for a day or two
because her son became sick. The people who I talked to who had
children either had spouses or friends who watched the them during the
residency. I'm not sure how they handled the work while raising
children, but they seem to be able to manage. Reb


maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Feb 7, 1999, 10:03 PM

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Thanks, Reb, it's good to hear that there are folks at Bennington
doing this particular kind of juggling act. Mary


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Feb 8, 1999, 3:54 PM

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Rebecca, et. al., as with anything one wishes to accomplish while
simultaneously raising small children, it's all a matter of choices
and saying no to a lot of things. I've done more writing and
publishing since my children were born (at least in the realm of
fiction and poetry). I guess what eludes me is how to write AND parent
full-time AND read AND go to school. Somewhere in there, I'd still
like to take a shower and answer my mail... Tamara


maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Feb 9, 1999, 10:26 PM

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Tamara, I agree there are choices to be made when raising small
children. I would never have considered doing something like this MFA
program when my first two kids were little. But they're both in middle
school now and able to help (a lot) with the youngest (she's 2 1/2). I
hit my 40th birthday just after having that last baby, and I no longer
feel like I can afford to put things on hold (ahh, middle age, like
motherhood, puts things into perspective). Mary


nonficchick
Sue Resnick

Feb 24, 1999, 10:02 AM

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I am in the MFA program at Goucher College and I have two little kids,
ages 3 and six. I started when they were 1.5 and 4.5. Our residency is
two weeks in august. My husband takes five days off work and we farm
the kids out to grandparents, aunts and friends for the other five,
plus he comes home early during those weeks. I had to take off a
semester and skip one residency because of family crises throughout
the year that made my husband unable to take the time off in the
summer, but I wouldn't say having little kids hinders me at all. I
spend about 20-25 hours a week on my work and the kids are in school
or daycare at that time. I think it's a great time to do a low
residency. Then, when you're done they're older and you can really
focus on your writing, teaching, etc - things that require more
full-time work. Many of my school friends also have little kids or are
giving birth during the program.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Feb 26, 1999, 8:19 PM

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This is primarily to Sue Resnick and others attending Goucher college:
If you don't mind me being nosy- What do you like about your program?
What kind of writing within the non-fiction heading are you working
on? Are the professors attentive and encouraging? What were your goals
going into Goucher? Thanks for any insight you can share. I am looking
into their program and awaiting the "official" packet of PR stuff from
Goucher! Gratefully, K.Storms


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Mar 17, 1999, 9:34 AM

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Hi there! I hate to open up a dead horse, but I'm looking for some
ideas or knowledge about low-residency programs from the student
perspective. I'm very interested in Bennington, Vermont College and
Warren Wilson. But what makes one better than the others? How have
people been treated by their faculty? Any insight would be great. (Oh!
I am interested in fiction and nonfiction writing, primarily fiction).
Thanks in advance! KStorms


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 17, 1999, 11:16 AM

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My experience is not with any of the schools you mentioned (I'm a
Goddard grad), but I think there are two big differences among the
schools. Bennington, Vermont, and Goddard are very, very cold at the
winter residencies, whereas Warren Wilson is not. And how you are
treated by the faculty can depend as much on how you get along with
particular individuals as anything else, since you're working with one
advisor all semester. Likewise, what makes one better than another is
what you have to learn from particular faculty members. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Mar 17, 1999, 12:42 PM

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Being that I've only attended one low-residency program (you can go
back and read my comments on Bennington), I can't really compare it
with the others. I have a friend at Vermont studying poetry who
absolutely loves it there. We both met at a traditional full-residency
MFA program that we hated. The low-residency format provided a working
closeness (mentor relationship) with the faculty that we did not get
at the full-residency program. But yes, you have to get along with
your faculty advisor, they don't let you switch mid-semester. I've
heard that Warren Wilson's MFA program has a higher focus on literary
criticism, although that's just what I've heard. As for the
temperature in Vermont, yes, it is very cold, but it's not that big of
a deal. The most you're going to spend in the cold is 3 residencies
over two years (if you graduate in the Winter, 2 if you graduate in
the Spring). Pack long underwear, good snow shoes, hat, glove and a
warm coat and you'll be fine. Reb


schwoch
Robert Schwoch

Mar 17, 1999, 1:55 PM

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I'm considering applying to low-residency programs for next year, and
both Bennington and Warren Wilson sound great. However, I must relate
something alarming I read about Bennington yesterday on the Chronicle
of Higher Education's web site. The Chronicle did a major story on
colleges going dangerously into debt to upgrade their campuses, and
the article reads in part, quoting now: "Bennington College, in
Vermont, has the lowest credit rating of any institution in the
nation, a B3 from Moody's. That is just above the category of bonds in
default or in imminent danger of default. Bennington cut its faculty
by one-third in 1994 and eliminated tenure in an effort to stave off
bankruptcy. Still, for the past two years, it has been selling taxable
bonds just to meet operating expenses. "The college has raised about
$3.2-million through the bonds, and has balanced its budget.
Enrollment is rising, and Bennington plans to sell more taxable bonds
to build additional student housing, says Lawrence Lee, vice-president
for finance and administration." I don't know exactly what this means
to anyone enrolled or thinking of enrolling in Bennington's MFA
program. But I'm queasy at the thought of throwing months of effort
and thousands of dollars at a graduate degree only to have the college
crash and burn before I finish. I may apply to Bennington anyway. But
if I get in, I'll be looking for some hard evidence that the school
will outlive my program of study.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Mar 18, 1999, 12:04 AM

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--- Erased on Thu, 18 Mar 1999 04:06:02 EST by ---


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Mar 18, 1999, 2:22 PM

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Thank you all for reviving this topic! I'm not too afraid of the cold-
I'm originally from Buffalo, NY! But I like what you have said about
the mentoring relationships that formed for you during the program. I
have an MAH from SUNY Buffalo in Literature/Creative Writing and
although I think SUNY Buffalo is a great place, I didn't really get
the close detailed attention I needed from my faculty- they weren't
necessarily professional writers. Now, I am looking for that 1-on-1
attention that a low-residency program seems to offer. thanks!
K.Storms


dwald


Apr 7, 1999, 3:12 PM

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I'm doing some research on low-res. MFAs and reading these posts has
been fascinating. Do any of you have a feeling about how much of a
market there would be for such a program that incorporated the visual
arts (text/image projects or book arts)? personal development/psych
courses (as related to writing)? "survival" courses (internships or
teaching certification)? Any thoughts, ideas, reactions welcome.
Thanks. DW


kshire
Kelly Shire

Apr 7, 1999, 6:15 PM

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Anyone heard anything about Antioch in LA? I am also opening my mind
to thinking about Warren Wilson or Bennington tho. This is only if I
don't get into an MFA this year. I like the idea of mentoring w/ an
advisor, but don't you miss a certain comraderie w/ your fellow
students? Or is that all just a myth? By the way, I'm thinking of
having a kid -- do you think I'm insane for trying to do a full-time
MFA at the same time?!


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 7, 1999, 8:50 PM

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I think Goddard has experimented with a multi-disciplinary MFA, or
were starting to do so when I graduated. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 8, 1999, 12:17 PM

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Kelly, I have much better camaraderie with my fellow students at
Bennington than I ever had at the full-residency MFA program that I
was in for 8 months before. I saw the full-residency students in class
and at readings but most of them had other things going on in their
lives that they were focused on (families, jobs, etc.). At Bennington,
I had 11 days to meet, eat with and basically live with the other
students during the residency including the students not in my genre.
Basically it's an opportunity to bond. During the rest of the semester
I keep in contact with the other students over e-mail and telephone.
We exchange work, talk about our reading and all that great stuff I
always wanted at the full-residency program but I never got. (in
addition to the mentoring) Reb


kshire
Kelly Shire

Apr 8, 1999, 12:45 PM

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Reb-- wow, that sounds very interesting to me. Community is a big part
of why I'm interested in an MFA in the first place. I have always been
intrigued by Bennington and its reputation and the whole Vermont
thing, which sounds quite exotic to a native Californian like me. Very
"literary." Interesting that you kept more in touch w/ students
through a low-res program than a full-time. Very crunchy food for
thought.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 9, 1999, 12:23 PM

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Kelly, In my experience with a full-residency program I only saw most
of the other students in class. When class was over, many of them
rushed out to pick up children at a babysitter, prepare for their hour
drive home, etc. Lots of these students didn't even make it to the
readings. In the low-residency programs, the students can't do that
because they're staying on campus for 11 days and most lectures and
readings are required. My personal experience at a full-residency
program is 8 months, two close friends, only one who I keep in regular
contact with. For one 11 day residency at a low-residency program I
made numerous good friends and I keep in contact regularly with at
least 6 of them. I also noticed that the students in the low-residency
programs are much more interested in writing and literature, while the
full-residency students seem to be hung up on funding and teaching. I
think the full-residency program puts a lot of emphasis on that. Since
there are never enough TA positions available, there's a level of bad
feelings among the funded and unfunded students. Everyone thinks they
should be teaching. Also, I think the funded students do have more of
a community than the unfunded ones. I have never been interested in
teaching. I don't care if I never teach. I can find other ways to
support myself than working slave wages teaching freshman composition
classes. I'd rather work for a corporation, start my own business,
anything. I'm in an MFA program because I want to focus on writing,
learn craft, improve style, study great poetry, etc. If that's what
you're interested in, then a low-residency program is perfect way to
do this. If you're more interested in teaching (to each her own!),
then a full-residency program (with a TA offering) might be better. Of
course, if you publish wonderful books, it doesn't matter if you have
teaching experience or not, you'll find teaching work. Reb


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 10, 1999, 1:23 PM

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This is wonderful to hear from all of you on the different
low-residency programs! I too am interested in the tight-nit
communities available. Bennington sounds like a wonderful place- does
anyone know if its stronger in one genre than the other? I'm writing
fiction and non-fiction now, so those are my focus points. Thanks for
the feedback and keep writing! KStorms


schwoch
Robert Schwoch

Apr 11, 1999, 9:52 AM

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Reb -- Care to divulge which full-residency MFA program you attended?


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 11, 1999, 3:21 PM

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KStorms, I'm not really sure what Bennington's genre strength is (or
if there is a clear cut strength). The have published alumni (and
current students) in all three genres. Also, their faculty for all the
genres are pretty established and well received as well. Bennington
allows a third semester switch which means if you are accepted for
fiction, you can study non-fiction (or poetry) for the third semester.
Robert, I previously was in the MFA program at the University of
Pittsburgh. I've stated my issues with that program in earlier posts
here and in the "Choosing an MFA Program." Reb


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 12, 1999, 9:20 AM

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Reb- Thanks for responding to my message! I really appreciate it! Did
you find that your faculty advisors are/were attentive to your
writing? I think that is the big issue for me, finding faculty that is
really willing to read and critique what I am writing, not just say
"yeah, yeah" like they did in my master's program (non MFA). Thanks
again! And have a fabulous writing day! K.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 12, 1999, 12:44 PM

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KStorms, I am still in my first semester at Bennington, but yes, the
faculty has been extremely attentive to my writing. The program is set
up that way. Each semester you are assigned (from your choices) a new
faculty member to study with. That faculty member has 4 students total
per semester. During the residency students are in 5 or 6 workshops
(With either 4 or 8 students, depending on whether or not two faculty
members decide to teach a workshop together. The 4 student workshops
have 1 faculty member in them, the 8 student workshops have 2 faculty
members). When the residency is over, the student corresponds with
his/her faculty member in packets sent in mail (which contain original
poems, annotations on readings and a 3 page letter). In a week the
faculty member responds with a letter and comments written on the
work. Some faculty members send e-mail (or occasionally talk on the
telephone) in addition to the packets. Each semester the student
completes five packets. I share your disappointment about not getting
enough feedback from faculty. In the full-residency program I was in
prior to Bennington, it took one professor over a month at times to
return my poems and often the comments would only be something like "I
like this." or even worse, a smiley face. Definately not worth the
out-of-state tuition I was shelling out. Reb


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 12, 1999, 12:56 PM

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I suspect that most of the faculty at low-res programs tends to be
pretty attentive, since the dropout rate is relatively high and the
competition for faculty jobs is also pretty high. Faculty that doesn't
meet the standard, and doesn't keep the students involved and
enrolled, goes away. dmh


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 13, 1999, 10:38 AM

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Reb- What an encouragine message! Wow! 1 week and they are getting
back to you! Amazing. I too have had the smiley faces and I like this
responses- one even said to me about my master's project- "gosh I
never know what to say to these things, creative writing is so, so
subjective" Arrrrrgggghhhh. Bennington is a beautiful community. My
great-grandparents grew up there and owned many businesses in the "old
days". It would be neat to return there to write. Do you mind if I
ask, who you are working with now? How on earth do you decide who you
want to work with? That must be a daunting task! Thanks again for
keeping this alive! David- are you in a low-res program too? KStorms


pongo
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Apr 13, 1999, 10:55 AM

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I graduated from Goddard last July. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 13, 1999, 12:57 PM

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KStorm, I'm studying with April Bernard (her books of poetry are
"Blackbird Bye Bye" (Walt Whitman Award) and "Psalms") this semester.
I should also clarify one thing that I said. April has one week to
spend with my work before she sends it out, there's a couple of extra
days if you include the time it takes for the post office to deliver
the packets. It's a little hard the first time to choose which faculty
members to work with. Just because you like someone's work doesn't
mean necessarily they're a good teacher and vice versa. So the first
time is a little more like a guessing game. It gets a little easier
once you get up to the residency and get a chance to talk with other
students and meet the faculty. I now have a good idea of which faculty
I want to study with for the next three semesters. A good part of it
is what kind of teaching style you prefer. Some faculty are much more
lax than others. Some people want that space during the semester,
others want to be pushed harder. The only thing I will recommend
against doing is restricting your choices to faculty who you feel
"write like you." I've encountered people who don't want to studying
with certain faculty because they didn't write like them. Seems silly
to me. Most faculty respect and are interested in many styles of
poetry. Few faculty only want to teach dittos of themselves. Besides,
you can learn alot from those who have the greatest differences. Reb


lexy
Alexis Adams

Apr 14, 1999, 4:13 PM

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This conversation is really interesting for me to read as I'm
preparing to enter my first semester at Southampton College. I'm
planning to do the lower residency option there, which requires two
semesters of full-time study on campus, which can be completed during
the summer's six week sessions. However, I *think* I'm one of the
first lower-res students, which probably means that I'll have some
input on how things are done (and certainly means my experience will
be a bit of an experiment for the faculty!). I'm hoping to have as
reliable a rapport with my mentor as you have with yours, Rebecca. I
may just have to take notes on Bennington's methods and pass along
that info to the faculty at Southampton. I'm a little nervous, but I'm
also excited about the idea of studying at a new program the faculty
and staff of which, thus far, have demonstrated a refreshing
enthusiasm and sense of innovation and adventure. No stiff collars at
Southampton, so far as I can tell.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 15, 1999, 1:24 PM

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Good Morning! Alexis- tell me more about the Southhampton Program, if
you don't mind. You can do all the "semesters" during the summer? How
wonderful? What are the teachers like that you've met? Reb- your
messages continue to fill me with hope. I will be applying to
Bennington this summer for Jan. admission! I am so happy that you have
faculty members that you like working with, it sounds like you deserve
finally to be working with people who will appreciate your poetry. Do
you like working from home? Are you working too? I teach composition
at a couple of colleges right now, so I really don't need to worry
about teaching experience, per se. But I wonder how much I could
really do with a low-res program. Thanks again all for the
information! I love this group! Kstorms---Kris


lexy
Alexis Adams

Apr 15, 1999, 5:29 PM

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Kstorms, I'll know more about Southampton, of course, after my first
semester there, but today I can tell you this: The college is located
in the heart of the Hamptons, which is home, apparently, to lots of
writers and artists. So, the program has no shortage of talented
neighbors from which to draw lecturers for their Writers Lecture
Series. All manner of folk participate peripherally in the program,
including George Plimpton, Kurt Vonnegut, Peter Matthiessen, Robert
Reeves, Billy Collins, Norman Mailer and others. Permanent faculty
includes Roger Rosenblatt (I don't know him, but apparently he's a
regular on PBS' MacNeil News Hour (or is it Lehrer? I don't have a TV)
and in the pages of TIME and other mags. He teaches nonfiction; Kaylie
Jones (daughter of James Jones, the author of From Here to Eternity),
who is said to be a fine writer and teacher in her own right; poet,
Kit Hathaway; and novelist, Nahid Rachlin. Yes, you can complete both
required residencies during the summer. I'm planning to do it over two
visits, one this summer and the next during the summer of '00. I have
no idea how much access we'll actually have to the Hamptons' literati,
but I'll surely know more soon, as I leave for my first stint in just
over a month. Oh, and another thing, unlike other lower residency
programs, Southampton actually offers merit scholarships. What a
notion! I received quite a bit of help and I don't have to spend a
moment of my time teaching in exchange. Again, I don't think many
students have taken the lower res route yet, so it could be very
experimental. But my personality type rebels against too much
structure, so I think I'll like what I think will be a somewhat
loosely organized situation... I'll keep you posted.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 17, 1999, 12:14 PM

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Alexis: Congratulations! What a wonderful thing to win merit
scholarships! Are you excited or what? I think I'll send off for more
information from them. It sounds really neat. Are you going into
fiction, poetry or non-fiction? Thanks for the information! Kris


stefr
Stephanie Rosenfeld

Apr 19, 1999, 12:21 AM

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Alexis -- Non-sequitur from a lurker: Kaylie Jones was my college
roommate. Tell her "hi" when you get there...


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 19, 1999, 12:35 PM

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Kris, I'm not working right now, although most people in the program
do at least work part-time jobs. I like working from home. I tend to
work best during the night and I can make my own schedule. There are
enough deadlines (one a month) to make sure that I don't slack off for
too long. Reb


lexy
Alexis Adams

Apr 19, 1999, 6:24 PM

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Stephanie, I'll definitely give her your hello! What a wonderful
coincidence! She has a baby now, you know. And a movie based on her
novel (can't remember the title right now). I'm really looking forward
to meeting her. She was really nice when I called her for information
about the program.


lexy
Alexis Adams

Apr 19, 1999, 6:43 PM

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Kris, thanks for the congrats! I'm going for fiction, but I think I'll
end up taking quite a few non-fiction classes, too. I'll check in at
the Speakeasy during my first session at Southampton (May 25th - early
July). Hopefully, I'll have good things to tell you!


stefr
Stephanie Rosenfeld

Apr 20, 1999, 11:30 AM

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Alexis -- The movie's called "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries" -- I
just saw it on video the other night. (It was kinda bad, but that's
not the author's fault...) Good luck at writing school!


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 20, 1999, 12:57 PM

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Good Morning Everyone! Alexis- I can't believe you start in early
May!? That's amazing! Good luck and please, let us know all about it!
Reb- so you're a night worker, huh? I tend to find myself working in
the mornings, if I can pull myself to the computer early enough. When
do you have to head back to Bennington? ARe you excited? Have a good
day all! Kris


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 20, 1999, 11:17 PM

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I wish I could work more in the mornings. I'm alone at home then with
few distractions. I'm trying to change my work habits and fit myself
more into my schedule. I head back to Bennington June 10. Yes, I'm
excited to head back. I can't wait to see my friends. Reb


wassir
Michael Bigham

May 11, 1999, 11:33 PM

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I find this topic fascinating. I'll be attending my first term in
fiction at Vermont College in June and am wondering if anyone else
will be there. Any tips or input would be appreciated. I was also
accepted by Antioch and placed on the waiting list for Bennington . .
. I felt I wanted to make a choice sooner than Bennington wanted, and
Montpelier seems to have a better atmosphere for writing than LA.
Regards, Michael


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

May 13, 1999, 4:28 PM

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Michael, I know I've said this in earlier posts, but I have a friend
at Vermont who loves it there. When I told him I was going to
Bennington, his first advice was "bring flip flops for the showers!"
:) My advice would be to attend as many lectures and readings as you
can without wearing yourself out (which is easy to do after a while).
Attend lectures and panels that deal with subjects that don't feel
deal directly with what you're doing. You might be surprised at what
you might learn. For example, during the winter residency at
Bennington, Richard Howard gave a lecture on translations. I have no
interest (at least not for now) to translate literature, but the
lecture was illuminating. I found that it helped me with some of
reading and gave me a general knowledge of the subject. The Bennington
residency starts June 10. I'm excited, but busy busy busy working on
my final packet (which includes a 10 page paper) and trying to get as
much of the reading done for the associate faculty lectures. Reb


wassir
Michael Bigham

May 13, 1999, 11:22 PM

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Reb, Thanks for the suggestions. I'll make sure to take my flipflops.
This is all very exciting for me. I'm not exactly sure what to expect,
though I went to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival last summer. I
expect it'll be similar except much more intense and with much more
going on. Let me know how Bennington goes. Thanks again. Michael


pongo
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e-mail user

May 14, 1999, 10:48 AM

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Also bring a hot cup with a top. You'll probably be getting less sleep
than you're used to, and something in which you can carry coffee, and
keep it warm, will be helpful. And bring samples of your own work. In
my residencies at Goddard, impromptu readings and workshops were
breaking out almost every night. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

May 14, 1999, 12:34 PM

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Double yeah on the "bring samples of your own work." At Bennington
there's an open mike every night after dinner for the students who
aren't graduating that term. (The students who are graduating give
readings all through the week in the auditorium.) You'll probably want
to read something that you aren't workshopping. Reb


wassir
Michael Bigham

May 14, 1999, 4:23 PM

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Ha! I think getting up in front of a group of people and reading is
something I'll have to ease into. I know I'll have to do it for
graduation, but public speaking isn't my forte . . . although I have
gotten to the point where I can read in a workshop without problems.
That is if you don't count the racket my knees make when they clank
together.


pongo
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e-mail user

May 14, 1999, 8:35 PM

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At Goddard, not only do they encourage students to read publicly
(aside from the graduating student readings and the impromptu readings
and workshops, there are scheduled readings for new and continuing
students at least once a day), a public reading is a graduation
requirement. If you can't make it to campus for graduation, you must
present documentation of another public reading. Besides, it's really
neat to have people come up after your reading, or at the party
afterwards (assume a party every evening, or just a bunch of people
sitting around drinking and arguing about writing, which is about the
same thing), and tell you what they loved and hated about it. (And
when they tell you what they hated, it's because they think you can
fix it, not because they think you're an idiot.) dmh


lexy
Alexis Adams

May 17, 1999, 9:56 PM

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Hey all, I make the trek day after tomorrow from Montana to New York
for my first stint at Southampton College's "lower" residency program.
Will post from there to provide some first impressions... Michael,
congratulations on Vermont! Be well, Alexis.


dwald


Jun 3, 1999, 4:30 PM

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Reading back in the postings, I only noticed one person who explicitly
said she wasn't interested in getting an MFA in order to teach. With
the glut of MFA's out there, and the small number of teaching jobs,
I'm wondering if the rest of you are similarly motivated--i.e.,
motivated to learn more about writing, not just for the purpose of
employment. Interested in all responses. Thanks.


wassir
Michael Bigham

Jun 3, 1999, 10:36 PM

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Actually, getting an MFA for teaching is low on my list of priorities.
I'm working on the degree mostly to provide some structure in my
writing life and to get professional feedback on my craft. I recently
quit my career of 27 years to write full-time and without some sort of
structure, I'd probably spend most of my time watching trashy game
shows and the Young and Restless.


sommersby
J.L. Sommersby

Jun 17, 1999, 7:11 PM

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I am actively researching MFA programs--both 'traditional' and
low-residency, and as I scanned through previous postings, I was
surprised to hear so much about east coast offerings. Help! I'm on the
WEST coast! I am looking into San Fransisco State and several other
mainstream universities (including Eastern Washington whose program is
supposed to be quite good), but since I am just coming out of a
10-year struggle to finish my B.A., the low-residency thing sounds
cool. I'm 27, an 'independent' mom, and want to invest appropriately
(in loans, of course!). I am interested in the teaching aspect of
studying, as well as developing myself as a writer. I am starting to
discover through this whole process that the low res programs seem
more intimate, perhaps more focused on the developing writer rather
than the well-rounded curriculum. I just wanna WRITE--no more general
ed classes! UGH! I have Antioch's info, but want to hear some insight
from individuals who have tried low-residency vs. standard delivery or
perhaps info from ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about the quality of
Antioch's program. I live in L.A. and am originally from Washington
(the state) so it is difficult to know which programs are worthy.
Also--how does an individual survive without student loan $$ to
augment the living budget? Can low-res students borrow extra to pay
for living expenses, are there work-study gigs available, or is it up
to the student to figure it all out? I just want to make sure that if
I borrow more for the MFA, I will be able to use it to earn a living
after its over. (I know, that will depend on ME and my ability to put
the words on the page, right?) Thanks in advance for any and all
advice...I'll be anxiously awaiting any responses! Jenn


saragarvin
Sara Garvin

Jun 18, 1999, 12:07 PM

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Hello, I've heard some wonderful things about low-residency programs.
Now I'm looking for the downside... just in the interests of a
balanced picture. Lack of funding seems to be the big one, as far as I
can tell. Anything else? Thanks! ~ Sara


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Sep 27, 1999, 6:41 PM

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Hello, is anyone home? I am looking at Bennington, Goddard, Vermont
College and Warren Wilson. I am planning to attend the prospective
student open house at Vermont on Sat 9th. I am eager to start my
application. I have thought long and hard about this and now I am
ready to go for it. My concerns. What is the range of ages fo the
students? What kind os manuscripts did you submit with your
application? Is the course work exciting? are you learning anything
new and does it inspire you to write? Did you have a work in progress
when you started? How did your advisor receive it, if you did? If I
apply now I think I would not be getting in until the summer program.
Am i right? How did you spread your reading and writing during the
week? Would appreciate hearing form any of you out there. Thanks.
Champa Champa


pongo
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Sep 27, 1999, 10:19 PM

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I went to Goddard, and the range of student ages was 21 (one undergrad
was finishing up with a couple of terms in the MFA program) to
somewhere over 60 (it wouldn't have been polite to ask Mara her exact
age, but she was retired). I submitted a chapter from my
then-novel-in-progress and, I think, an essay. At Goddard there is no
course work in the ordinary sense. You design your own study plan for
each semester and for the program as a whole, so you should direct it
toward learning what you need to make you a better writer. There are
certain requirements -- you have to write two short formal critical
essays and one long one (5 pages and 20 pages, respectively), you have
to do a teaching practicum, and of course you have to finish a book --
but how and when you complete them is up to you and your advisor (and
you have at least two different advisors over the four semesters; you
can only spend two terms with any one advisor). My first-semester
advisor never saw my work in progress, except the chapter that was
part of the application. During the first residency I realized that I
didn't want to write that any more, so I started something completely
new. I recall that he commented at our first meeting that my technique
was already fairly sound, so I guess that's how he received it. Other
students there came in with works in progress, and from what I could
tell the good projects got good responses. Goddard has a rolling
acceptance program, so if you get your application in now you would be
considered for the spring term. I didn't really spread out my reading
and writing. I tried to do some of each every day. It came to reading
(and writing about) a book every week, plus the creative work and
research on the critical papers, although I was able to combine some
of that with the readings. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Sep 27, 1999, 10:58 PM

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The age range at Bennington is anywhere from 22 - 80 something with
the bulk of the students somewhere in the 22-50 range, but there's
plenty of older people too. I believe the deadline for Bennington's
Winter/Spring semester was mid-September, but you should check with
them to be sure. What genre are you applying for? Basically, if you're
applying for poetry, you send 10 pages of poems. If you're applying
for fiction or non-fiction I think it's 20 pages (either a short story
or a completed chapter or a work in progress). You plan your semester
with the faculty member you are studying with. You pick a reading list
20-25 books. There are five packets due each semester (send via
priority mail). In each packet (it varies slightly depending on who
you're studying with)you send 5-10 pages of poetry (I think its 10
pages for fiction or non-fiction, but it might be 20), a few short
annotations on your readings and a 3-4 page letter detailing your
reading and work. At the end of the semester a 10 page paper is due.
The teacher has 10 days to get your packet back to you with a letter
and comments. During your last semseter you work on your thesis and
edit and polish your final manuscript. Graduating students give a 20
minute reading and a 20 minute lecture on their thesis to the rest of
the students and faculty. Bennington requires that you devote at least
25 hours a week to the program (between readings and writings). I have
found that to do decent work and get what I need to get done, that 25
hours is just the minimum. Reb


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Sep 28, 1999, 8:58 AM

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Thank you all for bringing this conversation back to life! I've lurked
all year and I think this is the year that I will be applying to
low-res programs. I am particularly interested in Bennington and
Warren Wilson. Rebecca, if you don't mind me asking- do you work
full-time while you do all of this writing? I work full time right now
and teach part-time and I'm trying to decide if this is something that
I can add to my full time job if I give up the teaching. Can either of
you talk to the reaction you have gotten from colleagues about your
programs. For example, are you doing/did the MFA to increase
enployment opportunities? To focus solely on writing? Both? In light
of that, what has been the reaction from people around you been like
concerning your programs. Does this make sense? Thanks for indulging
my questions! Your advice and wisdom are duly noted! Kristin


pongo
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e-mail user

Sep 28, 1999, 11:03 AM

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I started teaching almost as soon as I got the degree (commencement in
July, start of classes at the end of August), so in that respect the
degree did what I wanted. (This is college teaching, of course; in NY
state you must have at least a master's to teach in a college.) Of
course, it also did a lot for my writing. And a lot of the people with
whom I was in school did the degree purely for the effect on their
writing. But that 25 hours per week sounds about right to me as a
minimum budget of time. That might be tough if you're holding two
jobs. I've only had one response that dealt specifically with my
having been to Goddard, and that was favorable. A number of other
academic opportunities are in the wind because of the MFA (most
schools have Ph.D.s teaching their creative writing courses, and
wouldn't mind having an MFA to do some of it), but what seems to have
been the biggest help is my real-world experience. dmh


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Sep 28, 1999, 11:31 AM

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Thank you David and Rebecca. I work with fiction. I am currently
working on a novel, at least I think it will be a novel! My writing is
centered on my experiences as a woman, an immigrant, and growing up in
India, in that order! I will be looking for someone who will be
supportive of the special angle with which I am writing and I don't
really think I will have a problem in that regard among the
faculty/advisors. I am not sure if I should send my short stories, two
of which have won prizes in a contest and one published in a web
magazine, or the chapters of my novel in progress. I also want to know
if the reading and writing you did as you worked on your MFA enriched
you as a writer - did it help you to write at a different level? take
more risks with your writing with confidence? What would you say is
one single most important thing you gained as a writer from the
program which you don't believe you would have had without it? Thanks
again for sharing your thoughts Champa


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Sep 28, 1999, 1:23 PM

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I'm currently in the middle of my second semester, so I don't have the
same perspective as David who finished his MFA several years ago.
Kris, I'm not working right now. I saved up money from my past job so
I could devote my time full-time to the program, a luxury that I
realize not everyone has. Many people in the program work part-time,
some work full-time, but I don't know anyone who's working both a
full-time and a part-time job. That seems very ambitious in its own
right. The closest I can think of is one person at Bennington who
works in a running store full-time and trains for marathons. Talk
about a hard worker, last semester he also read over 60 books (and not
light weights either, I'm talking Milton). Of course, he now has
chronic fatigue syndrome and mono. Really. If you're going to work
some psycho schedule, please be sure that your can physically handle
it. Its ok to accept that you have limits. I'm in the program soley to
learn craft and improve my writing. I have little interest in
teaching. I'll probably get a job after I graduate in a field I'm
interested in (I live in the DC area, so there are lots of jobs), but
it most likely won't be a teaching gig. Champa, I recommend that you
send your most polished and finished piece for your manuscript and
save your less-polished work (which sounds like your novel in
progress) for the residency workshops. Many people come to the program
with works in progess and work on them while they're in the program.
At Bennington (and at all other low-res programs I believe) you'll
work with a new faculty member each semester, so you'll get lots of
different input on your work (not to mention input from other
students). As for my work improving, I noticed something just a few
weeks ago. In response to my first packet of my first semseter, my
advisor told me to stop revising my poems for a while. She thought
that my revisions were hurting my poems more than helping them. She
told me to write a good strong first draft of each poem and then set
it aside and move on. So that's what I've been doing for eight months.
I'm going out to St. Paul, MN this week to give a reading with some
other Bennington poets so a few weeks ago I took my big stack of poems
and started going through them, figuring out what poems I wanted to
read and edit them. Whoah, what a HUGE difference! Poems that I
thought were really strong last semester clearly have tons of
problems. Not only can I see things now, that I couldn't see just a
few months ago, but my writing has dramatically improved. I was a bit
startled. It didn't seem like I was making THAT much improvement as I
was going along. So yes, I'm noticing improvement. Reb


pongo
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Sep 28, 1999, 5:28 PM

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When I was in my first residency at Goddard, I wrote a story. The
whole first draft, between workshops and meetings. (This is amazingly
fast work for me.) It was one of the best things I'd ever done. I did
two more drafts that semester, at the insistence of my advisor (who
actually said in one of his letters, "take it to the next level"), and
eventually finished it (or stopped working on it) at the end of the
next semester. I wound up writing stuff I could not have imagined when
I started. And that improvement came out of my readings as well as my
writing and the feedback I got on that. The main reason to do the
reading is to use it as a vehicle to think about writing. What we do
in an MFA program is learn how to think better about writing. The rest
is just finger exercises. The single most important thing I gained
from the program was a sense of what I needed to do to bring my work
up to a higher level. And that happened in that first residency. (Now
I can spend the rest of my life working out the implications and
figuring out how to put them into my work.) dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Sep 28, 1999, 7:29 PM

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I believe this has been said here before, but you get as much out of
these low-residency programs as you put into them. I am always amazed
by the occasional student I meet who skips a majority of the lectures
during the residency, skimps on the readings (either not giving the
time needed for the readings or not picking challenging texts) and
doesn't put a whole lot of effort into their own work. These people
don't make it to graduation (and often not even through the first
semester)because it is so obvious in the very limited work they
produce. The students who are hard working, committed to improving and
learning and honest to themselves get what they came to the program
for because they get to focus on their own curriculum. If you want to
study Shakespeare's sonnets in depth, you don't have to wait for a
class to be offered on it. You work that out with your faculty advisor
during the residency. Or whatever it is that you're interested in. Reb



missglove
Miss Glove

Sep 29, 1999, 11:08 AM

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Does anyone know which low-residency program offers a "post-graduate"
semester & what that might consist of? E.G.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Sep 29, 1999, 12:38 PM

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Wow! David and Rebecca- you guys are wonderful! Thank you for
responding to my questions. I know that if I were to be accepted into
a program, that I would have to put my teaching part-time on hold.
That's a given. And I don't even know what my full-time job would say
to my being gone during those time, but hey...I won't know if I don't
apply. Right? When you talk about your advisor's writing to you about
your work, do you also talk with them via phone? Or is strictly
through the written word? What about email? Do you send things
electronically? oooohhhh, I'm getting so excited to apply! Now it just
means getting my rumpus in gear and doing it! Thanks guys! Kristin PS.
Champa- I too write fiction. Mostly short stuff, but I've toyed with
the idea of a novel, too. Go for it!


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Sep 29, 1999, 3:42 PM

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Kris, It depends on the teacher. Some prefer speaking on the phone and
some like e-mail in addition to their letters, but all the packets are
sent via Priority Mail. Some faculty members have tried doing the
packets via e-mail and it really doesn't work out very well. Its hard
to comments on a manuscript on the computer and often they end up just
having to print it out themselves. E.G., I don't think Bennington
offers any post-graduate semesters, but they do invite a few alumni
back each semsester to help welcome the new students. Reb


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Sep 29, 1999, 6:39 PM

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Reb, David thank you so much for all your input. You have clarified a
lot of issues for me.I am now reading up all the material from the
programs and they all look good. Kris, bice to know you're into
fiction too. Keep us posted on how you're doing. Champa


pongo
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Sep 29, 1999, 11:27 PM

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Some teachers have e-mail, some don't. I had one advisor who gave us
her phone number, but said to call only in an emergency, and two who
said to call as needed. One advisor never wrote anything back, but
sent his comments on audio tapes. One that I knew, but didn't work
with, was in the habit of e-mailing her students a couple of times a
week. I did send in one packet by e-mail, but as Rebecca points out,
he just had to print it out and mark it up. In fact, there are ways
around that, if everyone has the right software, but it isn't the job
of a student to change the way an advisor does her work. (Word has a
redlining function, which records and marks all changes on a
manuscript. I've used it with my students a few times.) And how much
vacation do you get? You should be able to schedule it a week at a
time, to coincide with residencies. That's what most people do, after
all. If you only get two weeks, it does mean that you get no actual
vacation for a couple of years, but a residency can be just as good --
or better. dmh


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Sep 30, 1999, 9:27 AM

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Good morning David and Reb, i am back with some more questions! How
did you develop your reading list? I tend to read a certain genre and
certain kind of authors but I want to be introduced to other kind of
writing as well. And how about books on the structure and craft of
writing, techniques and such? are these aspects picked up from reading
the works themselves? Can you share what a typical reading list looks
like? Since i probably will not strat until the spring semester I 'd
like to get a head start and diversify my reading. On the comments you
received from your advisors, did you feel good about them? felt
understood about the direction you were going in in your writing?
Thanks


pongo
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Sep 30, 1999, 11:20 AM

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Ultimately, you will have to write a transcript of your program, so it
might help to think about that at the beginning. I established clear
goals for each semester, which could be translated into "courses." For
example, I was interested in reading criticism, so for two semesters I
had one annotation in each packet (that is, one book that I read out
of each three) was criticism. One semester I did a unit on the margins
of genre fiction -- things that were not quite standard Westerns,
fantasy, etc. I read a lot of books that drew on the author's
experience (not necessarily autobiographical). I did a unit on poetry.
In each of these I was helped a great deal by my advisors, who
recommended books and approaches. Here's the packet-by-packet
breakdown for my second semester. GHOSTS is the working title of my
thesis novel. This is the semester I did the unit on the margins of
genre. First Packet: GHOSTS, chapters 1 & 2 POETICS, Aristotle THE
NOVEL-MACHINE, Walter M. Kendrick/AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Anthony Trollope
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, Patricia Highsmith THE GHOST WRITER, Philip Roth
Second Packet: GHOSTS, revisions and new material THE ART OF THE
NOVEL, Henry James FOR A NEW NOVEL, Alain Robbe-Grillet THE INFERNAL
DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN, Angela Carter Third Packet: GHOSTS,
revisions and new material Long critical paper, first draft SIX WALKS
IN THE FICTIONAL WOODS, Umberto Eco THE KILLER INSIDE ME, Jim Thompson
HUMPTY DUMPTY, Damon Knight Fourth Packet: GHOSTS, revisions and new
material Long critical paper, revisions THE BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS,
Jorge Luis Borges AUNT JULIA AND THE SCRIPTWRITER, Mario Vargas Llosa
SLOWNESS, Milan Kundera Fifth Packet: GHOSTS, revisions and new
material Long critical paper, revisions WELCOME TO HARD TIMES, E. L.
Doctorow CARMEN DOG, Carole Emshwiller CRASH, J. G. Ballard Of those
titles, the Ballard, Kundera, Llosa, Thompson, Carter, Highsmith, and
Roth were suggestions from my advisor. The Aristotle was a suggestion
from my advisor of the previous semester. So I would say that while
you can pick up a lot of structural stuff from reading good writing,
it is a good idea to read good critical writing as well. For one
thing, you will need to write some serious criticism to get the
degree, and you should have a some models. For another, you can learn
from it. I also did a unit on 'how-to' books, to see how writing was
being taught, and most of them are useless, but the few good ones are
very valuable. If you want to get a head start on the critical
reading, I would start with John Gardner (not infallible, but very
good where he's good) and David Lodge. They're both writers and
approach criticism from that point of view. The Eco on my list above
is also very good for writers. And it can't hurt to have Aristotle
under your belt. But don't assume that what you read now will count
toward your reading for the program. It will only count toward your
education. Oh, and for craft I recommend CREATING SHORT FICTION, by
Damon Knight. Much of what it says applies to long fiction as well,
and it all makes sense (rare in these books). It's actual instruction,
rather than pep talks (Natalie Goldberg and her ilk). dmh


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Oct 3, 1999, 8:48 PM

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David- Wow! What a list! It really brought home for me the ideas that
an MFA is more than writing, it's about critical reading, writing and
thinking. And that only when you engage in all three practices, can
real writing take place. Did you get much help in creating the lists?
Or were you purely self directed in your choices? Thanks for sharing
your ideas for solid writing texts. I loved "Writing Down the Bones",
but in recent years I find myself bending toward the more
"how-goes-it" texts on writing. Kris


pongo
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Oct 3, 1999, 10:00 PM

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As I said, I got a lot of input from advisors on what to read. Some of
my greatest discoveries were recommendations from advisors -- the
poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, Richard Hugo's THE TRIGGERING TOWN, Roth's
THE GHOST WRITER, Nathanael West, Aristotle, Angeal Carter, and so on.
I set the basic goals, in consultation with the advisors, and then we
together set the reading lists. Some advisors demand more input than
others. Sarah Schulman, for example (my advisor in that second
semester whose reading list is mentioned above) set specific rules.
She insisted, that term, that each of her advisees include at least
one pre-Christian text (mine was the Aristotle) and one Victorian (the
Trollope). dmh


robt
Robert Thomas

Oct 3, 1999, 11:11 PM

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Help, I need advice! I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I
applied this year for the Warren Wilson MFA program. Well, last week I
got "the call" that I'd been accepted, and I need to let them know
very quickly if I want to go or not, and I'm just not sure. The doubts
aren't about Warren Wilson. I've talked to at least a couple people
who have gone through the program and they are wildly enthusiastic
about it (although they did say it was a ton of work and some people
are driven crazy by the "academic" papers required). The doubts are
about whether I want to get an MFA at all. On the plus side, it could
be a fantastic learning experience. In fact I'm pretty sure it *would*
be a fantastic learning experience. On the minus side (besides its
costing a lot of money), I guess my biggest fear is that the "school
work" involved will leave me even less time for my own writing than I
have now, which could be very very frustrating. It's not that I just
want to write. I love to read too. (The Triggering Town, as David
mentioned above, is a great book about writing poetry.) But I'll still
be working at least part-time, and if I have to spend one of my
precious writing days worrying about turning in some paper on
symbolism in John Donne, I may go ballistic. Words of wisdom, anyone?


penman
Jason Paul Bokenkamp

Oct 3, 1999, 11:36 PM

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Well, go ballistic! It seems like a great opportunity. I'm in
Australia, and would like to know who publishes this book, "The
Triggering Town"?


robt
Robert Thomas

Oct 4, 1999, 1:39 AM

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W.W. Norton & Co. It's listed in www.amazon.com, The Triggering Town
by Richard Hugo.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Oct 4, 1999, 10:47 AM

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Robert- My instinct says to tell you- GO!!! You'll shoot yourself in
the foot if you don't even try! And heck- it's only 2 years. But I do
want to be sensitive to your concerns about going to. Why did you
apply? Have those reasons changed recently? Or is it just the reality
of the acceptance that is making things more complicated? Good luck on
this complicated decision and congratulations on the acceptance! Kris


pongo
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Oct 4, 1999, 11:25 AM

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Robert, a lot of you school work will be your own writing. In order to
get an MFA you have to write a book. I never sent in a packet that
didn't include new creative work (except maybe once, when I delivered
my major critical paper; I'd have to check my records). And the
important thing isn't thinking about symbolism in John Donne, it's
thinking about what you can learn from John Donne. In a good program
(and I understand that Warren Wilson is a good program), everything
you do goes toward your understanding of your own writing. Your
annotations, which are informal critical pieces, are about how the
book connects to your own work. Your formal criticism is about your
own critical concerns, which I would hope come out of your own work.
dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 4, 1999, 1:02 PM

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Champa, I spent my first semester reading some of the many "classics"
that I never read before and felt kind of ridiculous for not having
read (Auden, Bishop, Lawrence, H.D., Dylan Thomas, Whitman, Yeats,
cummings, etc.). This semester I'm reading more contemporary poets
(O'Hara, Kees, Neruda, Carruth, etc.). You should come to the
residency with an idea of what you're interested in reading for the
semester and work out a list with your faculty advisor. They'll
probably make suggestions. I always come with a tentative reading list
and modify it when I come to the residency. Also, your reading list
should in some ways reflect who you're studying with, meaning, you
should take the opportunity to study the things that your faculty
member is an expert in. While all the faculty members have a broad
knowledge of literature, many have specialities. For instance, if you
study with David Lehman, it would be silly not to take that chance and
study the New York School poets (Ashbery, O'Hara, Koch and Schuyler).
Reb


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Oct 5, 1999, 12:14 PM

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Thank you again David and Reb. BTW does Goodard REALLY want 3-6 SINGLE
spaced personal essay? I keep wondering if that was a typo! Robert,
GO! I believe what David says that you will be writing too.I expect
and hope that what I learn will inform my writing and will only get
better. I am attending the open house at Vermont College on Saturday,
the 9th. Any ideas on what I should be looking for, who I should talk
to, what questions to ask? Thanks


dkm
Diane Kirsten-Martin

Oct 5, 1999, 2:57 PM

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Ask if anyone there lives in the Bay Area and called about a poetry
workshop. Only joking about your inquiry, but this did happen--and the
phone number they left didn't work and they forgot to leave their
name, so I never got back to them. All I know is that they're in a
low-residency at Vermont college.


pongo
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Oct 5, 1999, 4:43 PM

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I believe the essay I sent Goddard was at least five pages
single-spaced. If you can't come up with that much about why you think
you should be in an MFA program, then you shouldn't be in one. (I
wrote about the evolution of my relationship with text, through
education and various jobs, and how it led me to want to teach.) dmh


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Oct 5, 1999, 5:41 PM

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David I was only surprised at the single space and the number of pages
because all th e others require a *brief* essay, double-spaced. I
worked on the Goddard one first as it did help me in getting all my
thoughts together and the leading questions in the application help
too! And mine has evolved pretty much the way you have stated too. The
essays for the others should be a cinch after this! BUt then they want
a critical essay on a book so I guess it is the same effort.


kshire
Kelly Shire

Oct 5, 1999, 11:03 PM

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Stephanie, if you are lurking at any time, I'd like to hear about your
Southhampton experience. Also, where did you stay, in one of the
residence halls? What is the additional cost for that?


kshire
Kelly Shire

Oct 5, 1999, 11:25 PM

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Oops, sorry. I think I meant that previous message to go to Alexis.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Oct 6, 1999, 11:48 AM

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It makes me so excited to see the posts everyday! For so long this
topic was dead! Champa- you're already starting on your essays? Good
for you! I'm still in the contemplative stage. Yikes! What schools are
you applying to? Please let us know what you think about the Open
House! If I were still on the East Coast, I'd visit, too. But
Wisconsin to Vermont is a bit of a stretch! Kris


pongo
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Oct 6, 1999, 12:51 PM

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I'm not sure how much you can really learn about a low-res program at
an open house, unless it's during the residency. Most of the faculty
won't be there (or, in the case of Goddard, anyway, wouldn't be) and
the other students won't be there, so you won't get much of the sense
of the real experience. For me, the residencies were not just a chance
to get ready for the coming semester, but a time to get charged up for
the term. And that charge came not only from working with my advisors
(I worked with three really good people) but from talking with the
other faculty (perhaps it was easier for me to chat with some faculty
on a peer-to-peer basis because I was older than so many of them, but
they were pretty open to it) and the intense eight-day writing
workshop aspect. We didn't spend every waking moment talking about
writing -- the people I hung out with at Goddard also did a lot of
drinking -- but we probably did devote about two thirds of our time to
it. Aside from the scheduled readings we had plenty of impromptu ones,
and arguments over critical ideas. One of my favorite moments was when
we established a new literary movement, the New Redneck Poets,
stumbling around in the woods with a bottle of bourbon and a critical
chip on our shoulders. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 6, 1999, 1:40 PM

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I agree with David about the residencies "charging" you up for the
upcoming semesters. The following month or two are always my most
inspired times. I just got back from a trip where I met and read with
four other Bennington poets and I have a mini-charge from that. Reb


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Oct 11, 1999, 10:59 AM

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Well, I am back from the open house at Vermont College and I am very
inspired and ready to apply there. I am glad I went. It was much more
informative than I thought it would be. There was a panel of
graduating students in Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction and also the
director of the program Louise Cox (I hope I got the last name right)
and they related their experience and this was followed by a q&a
session. The questions asked by others were as informative as the
answers themselves. There were two presentations by faculty, one of
them Verbana Pasteur - a spellbinding performance! The other one was
Chris Noble who is an alumini of the program and now on the faculty.
It gave me a taste for what drives the attitude towards writing in the
program, and I liked it. If you get a chance to go for an open house
my suggestion is GO! One thing - while the staff was extremely
hospitable and pleasant not sure how I'm going to hack the 'dorm
experience' for two weeks. Yikes!!


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 11, 1999, 1:33 PM

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Ah, the dorm experience, not the highlight of any residency, but not
as bad as it sounds. Bring plastic flip flops for the showers. :) The
accomodations at Bennington are decent, but nothing great. The rooms
have a bed, a desk, a chair, a dresser and a lamp. Everyone gets their
own room (and you can request for the telephone line to be
activated)and shares a bathroom with three other people. There's a few
rooms with their own bathrooms that are usually reserved for married
students (if both the husband & wife are in the program together, not
just for those who happen to be married!) or other special
circumstances. Of course, you're only going to be in your room to
sleep and you'll be so exhausted, you probably won't even notice that
peeling paint. Reb


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Oct 13, 1999, 11:43 AM

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Hi all! I don't know, I did some of my best early writing in a
half-empty dorm room....when I should have been studying for finals!
Champa, glad to hear that the program was so exciting for you. Thank
you for coming back to share with those of us stranded in the Midwest!
What were some of the questions that you found particularly engaging?
Reb- When you're at Bennington, how does the 10 days wrap around a
work week? Does that make sense? I'm thinking of talking about to my
boss soon about taking vacation time around the residences- if I get
in- and I was wondering how they worked. Thanks all for your input!
Kris


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 13, 1999, 12:18 PM

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Kris, I'm in my second semester at Bennington. I quit my job to get my
MFA, so I don't have to worry about fitting it in with a career, but
there are plenty of people who do. The residency begins on a Thurday
evening (you arrive that afternoon) and ends on the next Sunday after
the graduation ceremony. The last workshop and usually a lecture are
scheduled that last Sunday morning and graduation is in the afternoon.
They prefer that people stay for the ceremony (and many do), but if
you have to go, you have to go. I usually leave Monday morning. So
basically you'd have to take off 7 or 8 days of work per residency.
Reb


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Oct 14, 1999, 10:30 AM

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Reb- Thanks so for answering my questions. I think the 7 or 8 days off
make sense time wise, and I think it could be worked out at my job. If
you don't mind me asking, what has been your favorite part of being at
Bennington? Why did you ultimatly choose to go there? My
great-grandparents lived in Bennington all of their lives, and they
used to own a few businesses on Main Street. I really love the area
and hope that when I apply, I get in so I can "go home" to write.
Thanks! Kris


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 14, 1999, 1:02 PM

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Kris, There are several things I appreciate from Bennington. I was in
a full-residency program before I switched to Bennington and the
difference was phenominal. 1. The Lectures. I believe I wrote this
earlier, but every semester Bennington brings in four or five
distinguished writers (poetry, fiction, non-fiction and memoir) who
each give three lectures. The range and the breadth of these lectures
are amazing (although naturally there is a let-down when someone turns
out to be a real stinker). In addition, the graduating students give
lectures, many which are very good. And the poet-in-residences give
occasional lectures too (Donald Hall and Robert Bly). In the
full-residency program I was at, there were very few lectures on
"writing." There were a few on literary theory of some kind and a
bunch on politics, but not many on (I can't think of any while I was
there) on craft and style. 2. The students. Just about everyone is up
there to learn how to write better and to study literature (no matter
where you go, there will always be a couple people who there just for
the piece of paper). People are not obsessed about getting teaching
jobs (there's a huge range of professions), there's no backstabbing
about getting TA positions (there aren't any), there's none of the
haves and have- nots. Some of these students will probably go on to
teach, but that's not the reason they're getting their MFA. This makes
a huge difference in the program because the writing comes first. The
students are much better read and interested in learning about new
things. 3. The individual attention. Each faculty member works with
four (and on occasion, five) students per semester which means you get
a lot of attention and time. Like the students, the faculty are there
because they want to be there. They're not there because they're
tenured. I was accepted into both Bennington and Vermont College. I
was weighing the two in terms of faculty, etc. I have a friend at the
program at Vermont College (he likes it there a lot, but the big
clincher was that Liam Rector (the director of the program at
Bennington) called me to let me know I was accepted. He called
everybody, all 30 incoming students to welcome us and answer any
questions that we had. This made a really big impression on me. I came
from a huge and extremely impersonal program where it took two months
for my workshop teacher to know my name and where I had to share an
advisor with several hundred other students (undergrads, MAs and
MFAs). Bennington is a nice town although the winters can be a little
rough. Reb


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Oct 15, 1999, 11:08 AM

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Reb I am glad to hear your experience at Bennington is so positive. I
am more than a little annoyed with them right now. I have asked them
twice already for material. I received material from Goddard, VC and
WW right away. All i have gotten from B is a surly e-mail that they
will send it. And it is still not here! They are already making a bad
impression on me! I am trying to gather all the rquirements and
transcript requests, recommendations etc and I have no idea still what
Bennigton requires. I am not sure if I should even care at this
point.Perhaps they screen people out even before they apply! Kris, Let
me see if I can remember some of the questions. The responses are what
I took away from it so very much paraphrased:-) How would you know
whom to select as your advisor during the residency? How important is
this? You spend several hours listening to lectures and readings given
by the faculty. You aslo have a chance to interact with them. The
advisors also have a method to the way they select their students with
senior students getting their first preference. It is not such a
critical thing, so relax and don't stress about it:-) How do you work
the residencies into a full time job? How do you find time? Most
attendees have full time jobs, many are professionals. On an average
you need to spend 20-25 hrs on work, some do more. If life inturrupts
the work load, facutly is understanding, work it out with him/her. Is
there a big push for publishing? No. Merely to write well and improve
your writing. Compare Goddard, Bennington and WW to your program.
Goddard - very carefully selected description:Radical.WW: More
'Acedemic', emphasis on lit-crit essays, less time on your own
writing. Both WW and VC accept 20 to 25% of applicants. Bennington -
new program, still trying to get established.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Oct 15, 1999, 1:31 PM

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Champa, Hi. I'm sorry to hear that you've had a bad experience from
the office at Bennington. Probably just due to a lapse in office help
or something, they're not filtering out people before they apply.
Also, mail coming from Bennington can be slow sometimes due to the
post office. I should correct some of the information you just posted
about acceptance rates at Bennington. During the past two semesters,
Bennington has accepted 20% or less of the applicants. Its true that
Bennington is the newer of the programs and one or two years ago they
were accepting a higher rate but the application rate is up now. Reb


pongo
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Oct 15, 1999, 6:38 PM

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At Goddard I was part of a minority population. In fact, there were,
in my time, only four of us, and only three at any one time. We formed
the Middle-Aged White Heterosexual Male Caucus. There were also two or
three younger heterosexual white men. dmh


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Oct 19, 1999, 9:52 AM

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Good Morning Everyone! You've sold me on the low-res programs! Reb-
thank you for such a heart-felt response to why you love Bennington.
I'd have to say that I hear you about all of those reasons. I spent my
first MA in a large school, where I was neither heard or heard from
the voices that I needed to hear from. And of course, Bennington is
such a great place to boot! Thanks Champa for relaying the questions.
I think Vermont did a good job of explaining the difference between
all of the programs. One of the other things about the program there
that I do like is the 1 residency a year situation- which would be
much easier than the 2x a year. David- so...can I infer that the
programs are estrogen heavy? he-he! I am so thrilled! I've finally
started telling people about my choice not to go for a PhD and to go
for the MFA. You should see their faces, but who cares! I'm finally
doing what I want to do! Thank you all for your support in the time of
discovery! Kristin


pongo
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Oct 20, 1999, 3:23 PM

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There are plenty of men at Goddard, it's just that most of them are
gay. The program is particularly open to minorities of all types
(including those who write genre fiction), so it attracts
disproportionate numbers of them. Another note on minorities at
Goddard: When I was thinking about applying, I called to ask a
question and the head of the program returned my call. I was concerned
because I was then writing science fiction, and it seemed that the
general thrust of the faculty novelists was toward lesbian studies,
and I'm not really equipped to do lesbian studies. Nora (then the head
of the program) told me that if anything about it made me
uncomfortable, I shouldn't apply. For another two years I was getting
notes from the other programs I looked into, asking for my
application, but Nora was willing to tell me not to apply. That was
one of the big things that sold me on the place. dmh


bwc
Blaise Cirelli

Oct 21, 1999, 3:03 PM

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Anyone know about low residency MFA programs on the West Coast. How
does Antioch compare with Bennington, Warren Wilson, in terms of
program strength?


aeedward
Arthur Edwards

Nov 14, 1999, 11:56 PM

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Me too! I would love to hear from anybody who knows anything about
Antioch, LA, which, from what I understand, is the only low residency
program on the left coast. Any graduates or current attendees out
there? I'm looking for a viable option to the two programs in San
Francisco that turned me down in '99.


rrc2
Rhonda Cutler

Nov 18, 1999, 12:45 AM

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Hi everyone. I am American but live in Australia and the only way for
me to attend a US MFA program is via the low residency route. I only
recently learned about the low residency programs from an extremely
enthusiastic Goddard graduate (whose masters thesis resulted in a
published book of poetry). The Australian Masters program just don't
have the depth that I am seeking. I've been accepted to Goddard and
will be attending starting in January. David, you have gotten me
really excited about the experience and I want to thank both you and
Rebecca for the generousity of your input. This message board has also
gotten me really excited about the low residency concept which I
initially regarded as 'second best'. Jason, I have sent you an e-mail,
but noticed that you also live 'down under' (or on top when you are in
this part of the world). Are you also considering the US low residency
option? Thanks again.


pongo
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Nov 18, 1999, 11:11 AM

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My pleasure, Rhonda. When you get to Vermont, look for a guy named
Mike Foran. He should be graduating at this residency. Go to his
reading -- I find his poetry really interesting -- and say hello for
me. Also give my regards to Jane Wohl, who is one of the poetry
faculty and a really neat person. dmh


rrc2
Rhonda Cutler

Nov 18, 1999, 6:23 PM

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David, thanks for that. Will do.


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Dec 5, 1999, 12:04 PM

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Having just read through this entire topic I'm also wondering if
anyone has any info on Antioch University in LA and their low-res
program? I've just sent for application info. I'm actually not even
sure that I want to do an MFA but am certainly open to looking into it
for next year. If I did though I would probably only consider the
Antioch program as I live in LA close to Antioch and with my extremely
busy schedule I think it would be slightly easier to handle than a
program that necessitates plane flights and out of town travel twice a
year etc. So, is there ANYONE out there that has any info? Also - can
y'all give me an idea about how much low-res programs cost at places
like Bennington, Goddard etc.? Thanks.


pongo
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Dec 5, 1999, 2:53 PM

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As of a couple of years ago, Goddard cost (not including travel
expenses) about $7000 per semester. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Dec 5, 1999, 3:19 PM

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Bennington's tuition is $5050 (not including travel expenses)this
term. It usually goes up $100 a year. That includes your housing and
food during the residency.


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Dec 5, 1999, 8:12 PM

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Yikes - I can't imagine spending $28,000 on an MFA - for one thing,
you're not likely to get an increase of $28,000 in salary just because
you have an MFA. I wonder if Antioch is cheaper if you're a California
resident? Most universities in California are incredibly cheap (a
friend of mine is doing her grad degree at UC Davis in evening classes
- the average class costing her about $50 a semester).


pongo
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Dec 5, 1999, 9:22 PM

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State universities are cheaper in most states. Compare Antioch to
Stanford for a more realistic assessment. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Dec 5, 1999, 11:12 PM

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Low-residency tuition is usually considerably cheaper than full-
residency tuition (unless of course you get a teaching
assistanceship). Pitt's tuition for out-of-state MFA students was
around $9000 a semester. And they don't feed you! :) As far as I'm
concerned, Bennington is a real bargain. Two years at Bennington is
still cheaper than one year at my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon. (One
year of tuition there is $25,000 so multiply that times 4 years for a
bachelor degree.) Come to think of it, I believe undergrads at
Bennington are paying around $20,000 a year too. All that tuition
wasted on youth! Hah. Realistically, you're probably not going to get
any increase in your salary with an MFA. I'm sure someone could post
an exception or two, but as a blanket statement it's pretty true. If
you're looking for a degree to help your salary I recommend an MBA or
the new and trendy MIS (Masters in Information Systems). My husband is
working on his and not only is his company paying for his degree, but
they'll probably give him a sizeable salary increase when he completes
it. Reb


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Dec 6, 1999, 10:16 AM

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Rebecca, no, I'm not looking at an MFA to increase my salary (I'm
Director of Development for a non-profit so an MFA wouldn't even
remotely affect my job) I'm simply looking at doing one to improve my
writing. But, if indeed I would have to spend that much money, I can
think of many other ways to improve my writing without spending that
amount. My undergrad degree cost my parents around $50,000 and quite
frankly I'm not so sure that it was worth it. My salary certainly
isn't any higher than it would be if I *didn't* have a degree and, as
I went to an American university after being educated in England, I
didn't even learn much in my undergrad studies that I didn't already
know from my British high school education.


missglove
Miss Glove

Dec 6, 1999, 10:33 AM

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Do MFA students at Pitt actually PAY tuition? Most graduate programs
waive it, as part of a fellowship or assistantship. I think there's a
basic misunderstanding here, as to the difference in funding
undergraduate and graduate education. My graduate institution charges
$20,000 or so a year. My tuition (and that of every graduate student I
knew) was waived AND we were given stipends to live on.


valfiora
Valerie Fioravanti

Dec 6, 1999, 11:16 AM

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I was accepted into Pitt last year, and they only funded 2 of their
incoming fiction students, so yes, you have to pay. I wasn't one of
the two, so I declined.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Dec 6, 1999, 2:41 PM

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When I was at Pitt two years ago, they accepted 10 people into each
genre and funded 2 or 3 per genre. That's a total of 30 incoming
students, with a max of 9 being funded. And believe me, there's a lot
sore feelings between the haves and have-nots. I disagree that most
MFA graduate programs fund all students. I applied to three
full-residency programs two years ago and none of them funded
everybody. There are some schools that fund all their students, but
many don't especially larger programs. MFA programs don't get big
government or corporate grants like other fields do. Big MFA programs
don't need (can't afford) that many teaching assistants (remember,
there are two years worth of students already there and they have to
have teaching assistantships for Ph.Ds and other English master
students). They need incoming tuition money to stay afloat. Unless the
program explicitly states that all students get funding, I would never
assume that is the case. Reb


pongo
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Dec 6, 1999, 9:21 PM

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My MFA reduced my salary. I left the newspaper and started teaching.
dmh


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Dec 6, 1999, 9:24 PM

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Just got a very nice e-mail from Antioch replying to my e-mail of
yesterday saying that they have mailed my application package and not
to hesitate to call if I need more information or have questions.
That's a nice start - I always like it when these places respond so
quickly :-)


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Dec 10, 1999, 9:30 AM

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Just got word from Vermont College that I have been accepted. anyone
else planning to go there?


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Dec 10, 1999, 11:20 AM

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Received the application informaton for Antioch University Los
Angeles' low-res program. For anyone who is interested the tuition
cost is $4,200 a semester except for the fourth semester which is
$6,300. On top of this you also have to pay airfare, hotel expenses
and food while you're doing the residency part of it twice a year.
(Which is another reason why IF I did an MFA I'd choose Antioch - it's
10 minutes from my house so I would save airfare, hotel expenses etc).
However, I doubt I'm going to apply. I just can't imagine spending
over $20,000 just to get an MFA. I can learn to write better by simply
writing every day and by attending low-cost seminars and workshops.
For $20,000 I could attend well over 30 workshops or seminars. Plus,
most of the writers I know that *are* successful do not have MFA's yet
it hasn't affected their ability to either publish work or sell a
screenplay. I think MFA's are worthwhile for some. It's just not
something I'm interested in spending that much money or time on. I
guess I'd rather spend 2 years trying to get published than 2 years
'learning' how to write.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Dec 10, 1999, 12:50 PM

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Michelle, Sounds like you've made the decision that you're confortable
with and that's good. Yesterday I sent out my last packet for the
semester, a 10 page paper on Weldon Kees's poetry and some very
fresh/rough poems. Now I have 3 1/2 weeks to get ready for the
holidays and do all the readings for the lectures starting on January
6. For those of you interested, Bennington's adjunct(visiting) faculty
this term are Coleman Barks (lectures on Rumi and the uses of estatic
poetry), Max Steele (short shorts and learning from reading), Aghi
Shahid Ali (defense of dead white males, ghazals and J. Alfred
Prufrock's suppressed homosexuality) and Vivian Gornick (the art of
personal narrative). Reb


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Dec 12, 1999, 8:43 PM

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Rebecca, yes, I think I have :-) And don't misunderstand me, I *do*
think that MFAs are probably worthwhile for some people - especially
if they want to teach or want the 'writers community' that often seems
to come with MFAs. I'm in LA though and I fall over writers wherever I
turn so I seem to already have the community :-), and I honestly
wouldn't be much good at teaching I don't think so, for me, an MFA
probably isn't really worth doing. I am going to look at Antioch and
other colleges though and maybe take a couple of creative writing
classes or workshops without actually working towards a degree. BTW,
Rebecca, good luck with getting all your work done. I know how hard
that can be, especially over the holidays!


pongo
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Dec 13, 1999, 12:49 PM

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Of course, it is possible to learn about writing through an MFA (not
that it's the only way to do it). dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Dec 13, 1999, 1:26 PM

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I agree with David. I have no interest in teaching (and the low-
residency MFA doesn't focus on teaching although some people do end up
teaching afterwards) and while I am grateful for the friends I have
made at Bennington, that wasn't why I applied. During the residencies
I am introduced to lots of kinds of literature that I probably would
not have stumbled across on my own. During the semester I get
one-on-one attention from my faculty advisor with my work and the
opportunity to discuss what I have been reading with someone with more
expertise than me. For me, that's worth the 5k a semester but I can
understand how that might not be a price someone else is willing to
pay. It is a steep price and a major commitment. Reb


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Dec 13, 1999, 3:06 PM

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David, oh sure, I'm not saying that it isn't possibly to learn about
writing from taking an MFA - of course it is. I just think that, for
me, there are soooooo many other ways I can learn about writing
without spending $20,000-plus to do so. I am completely debt free,
paid off my BA student loans about 4 years ago, and would like to
remain debt free. I just don't want to be another $20,000 in the hole
just for the privelege of having an MFA that I, personally, will not
ever use.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Dec 14, 1999, 9:47 AM

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Gosh- All this talk about debt is shakin' my bones! My goal is to
apply to Bennington, Goddard, Vermont College and Warren Wilson for
the upcoming Summer/Fall term, and I can't even think about debt right
now. I'm too freaked out by the personal statements. Any advice on
what to say or not to say? Congratulations Champa! When will you be
starting the program? Kris


pongo
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Dec 14, 1999, 2:51 PM

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Tell the truth. Tell it as simply and clearly as you can. dmh


niamhsea
Mary Sharratt

Dec 22, 1999, 6:11 PM

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Hi everyone, Since I live in Europe I've also been debating whether or
not to do a low res program and whether or not it would be worth the 5
grand a semester. I've found all of your comments so generous and
helpful. Champa, I also had to bug Bennington twice to get their
materials which turned out to be photocopies of photocopies, no
personalized letter but a photocopied and unsigned "Dear Applicant."
If it weren't for Reb's glowing praise, I would be ready to dismiss
that program. Does anyone know about similar writing programs in
Britain or Ireland? Thank you all! I've been learning a lot from you.
Mary


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Dec 23, 1999, 12:08 AM

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Gee, I feel pretty bad. I can't explain why so many people are getting
such poor responses from the administrative folks, but I can say that
your dealings with those things will be minimal during your time at
Bennington. Most of the interaction during the semester will be with
your faculty advisor. Also, the adminstrative folks do a good job
during the residency, I don't have any complaints. Mary, there's a
student at Bennington who lives in Belgium and one who lives in
Brazil, so you wouldn't be the only "international" student.


niamhsea
Mary Sharratt

Dec 26, 1999, 4:46 PM

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Rebecca, it's good to hear your inside view of things. I know that
sometimes the people in the administration of an otherwise excellent
operation can give the wrong impression. I took part in the
Ploughshares International Seminar in Holland and had Askold Melnyczuk
as my advisor and he was an excellent teacher. He was my main reason
for being interested in Bennington. Out of curiousity, what's the
person from Belgium's name? I used to live in Antwerp and knew an
American novelist based in Brussels. Right now I'm based in the Munich
area. Rebecca, your comments on your assignments for the program
inspired me to draw up my own list of independent study assignments to
work on while deciding if I will further pursue any of these programs.
Thanks!


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Dec 26, 1999, 10:05 PM

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Kris, Thank you. I got the formal letter and was even offered a small
- very small - grant which made me feel very good. I agree with David
about the personal statement. Just write what comes naturally about
your writing. I will be starting this summer - last week of June and
around the July 4th time period. I have to plan the 8 days or so
vacation time. I will wait and see how it works with a full time job
and doing my course work. I have still not heard from Bennington! Too
bad, they are closer to me than VT College. Vermont College has been a
pleasure to deal with, easy to get them on the phone and very
responsive. Champa


aeedward
Arthur Edwards

Jan 3, 2000, 8:15 PM

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Why has this topic slowed down? Shouldn't we all be panicking about
now?


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Jan 4, 2000, 4:06 PM

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Hi all! Champa- It sounds like Vermont College might just be the right
place for you- congratulations! I remember how impressed you were in
Sept. when you went to the open house there. Otherwise- how are people
doing with the applications? I'm in the midst of finishing my personal
statements! Arrrrrrggggh! At least I have all the reference forms out
to my letter writers, that was a huge step! Hope everyone else is
hanging in there! Kris


robt
Robert Thomas

Jan 4, 2000, 6:10 PM

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I am heading off tomorrow for my first residency at Warren Wilson. I
will be happy to let anyone know how it went when I return, though I
suspect you'd get more meaningful feedback if you talk to me after my
first semester six months from now.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Jan 5, 2000, 11:32 AM

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Have a wonderful trip Robert- learn lots! Kris


pongo
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e-mail user

Jan 5, 2000, 12:27 PM

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The first residency can set the tone for the whole experience. At my
first residency I wrote the first draft of a complete story, aside
from doing all the other work that's required. (I don't normally write
that fast.) dmh


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Jan 13, 2000, 1:08 PM

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Robert, Have a great trip if you are still reading this! And please do
tell us about your experience. Kris, where are you applying? David and
others who are veterans:-) Did you all prepare in any way in the time
you got your acceptance and the start of the program. i feel as though
I should be doing something in preparation and have many ideas. Too
many in fact that I do nothing! Did you work on your novel? Prepare
somehting in anticipation of workshopping it at the residency? Read?
Thanks Champa


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jan 13, 2000, 1:38 PM

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I picked out something to read in public, and I started thinking about
my reading list for the semester. What I should have done was given a
lot of thought to exactly what I wanted to learn that semester, and
how I was going to learn it. If you can start work on your study plans
(both overall and for the term), you'll have an advantage. Whatever
you do in advance will be revised by/with your advisor, but you'll get
a sense of your own direction. dmh


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Jan 13, 2000, 1:49 PM

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Hi everyone! Champa- I've decided to apply to Goddard, Bennington,
Warren Wilson, Vermont and the Art Institute of Chicago. I'm not
particular at this moment, I just want to be accepted somewhere and
start writing with guidance. David- your comments are well versed.
Goddard wants applicants to have all that written down in the
application. Kris


georgesand
Sarah Woodside

Jan 25, 2000, 1:31 PM

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Hi everyone. I just found this site-I'm an old Warren Wilson
graduate--the program changed my life. Enthusiasm isn't really the
word for it. I didn't really prepare before I went for the first
semester-it's kind of like jumping into the middle of the Pacific-you
just do it. I've thought alot about the evolution I went through there
and would be happy to answer any questions. Best wishes!


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Jan 29, 2000, 1:03 PM

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Sarah- Thanks for your encouraging post! Maybe you can give me some
insight- I'm stuck on writing the critical analysis for WW's
application. What would you suggest? I finished a Master's in
Humanities four years ago, but all of my papers from then are based on
non-fiction works or poetry. I'm applying for fiction. What should I
do! Just review something I recently read? Cold? Thanks for any
insight you can shed! Kris


georgesand
Sarah Woodside

Jan 31, 2000, 1:23 AM

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Kris, If you have an imaginative, well-written critique you could send
that no matter the genre. I suspect they look for a couple of things--
a mind that can penetrate with imagination, basic prose writing
skills, any kind of flair. They don't expect students to know all the
in's and out's, but to have basic talent and a spark. They also want
to weed out psychos. Believe it or not, some critiques can be so
strange one knows more about psyche than poetry. If you did send a
poetry critique you should include a detailed and heart-felt reason
for why you want to write fiction. WW students are voracious, the most
seriously passionate writers you'll ever meet. No need to worry about
a sort of blase hobby minded coffee club. If you write something cold,
send it to a couple of bright, disciplined peers for polishing. One
classic faux pas (which you probably know not to do) is to launch out
on some kind of opinionated tirade about how what a character did is
improbable e.g. "I don't believe that John would have taken his
girlfriend to the emergency room. Guys like that want their women to
lose babies..." wierd personal takes on characters that have nothing
to do with author's intent. I'm going on here a bit ridiculously but
only out of excitement for you that you might go to WW. One other
thing of note. They look for talent more than accomplishment. Very
well known writers get turned away by WW if staff find the work
uninspiring and a nobody like myself slips in. I'd love to answer any
questions about the place or program etc. Good Luck! Sarah


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Jan 31, 2000, 9:21 AM

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Sarah- Wow! Thanks for the insight! I did write something cold, a
critique of a collection I've recently read. And I did send it to a
friend of mine to read over- she's an amazing grammar goddess. So,
your advice was well heeded. I'm leaning toward Warren Wilson and
Bennington College. Both seem to offer the academics and writing focus
that I so desperatly crave. When did you attend WW? What was your
focus? Thanks again! A million smiles sent your way in gratitude. Kris



georgesand
Sarah Woodside

Jan 31, 2000, 10:29 PM

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Kris, I graduated in '93 I think. Poetry. The poetry staff was and is
exceptional both in teaching ability and reputation. I think the
fiction staff is also but my impression is that some big names come
and go more frequently. I know Charlie Baxter is still a regular. He
is totally amazing. Steven Dobyns, guys like that, deliver lectures
that are written almost in poetry while the poetry staff delivers
lectures like novels. The language is almost textural. You might want
to order tapes of lectures or readings of staff. They also have
student graduation readings. It would give you a first hand impression
of the caliber of thought e.g. Baxter's lectures or let's see,
somebody like Michael Martone. If you're going to WW because you have
a particular affinity to some of the staff, you could check out their
lectures (obviously their books.) I don't know who's at Bennington
right now. Unfortunately, once you're in, it also helps if you do some
power networking. It's not the crude kind of thing one often
encounters in the business world. It happens more by simple
association than effort. In fact, good MFA teachers are careful not to
develop pets that they help over others in the publishing world. But
it truly does matter who you know and it's really a pretty small world
out here (out there?), whatever, and it certainly does matter if Joan
Aleshire sends your manuscript to Ms. Editor at BigKahunaMag. So it
does matter who's there and if your work is sympatico. Lots of people
have no idea what their MFA thesis will look like so it's a crap
shoot, but one attended by all observant gods and goddess'. What
jazzes you about fiction? How much have you written? What's leading
you to make the MFA plunge? The academics at Warren Wilson are
challenging. Everyone arrives a big fish in a little pond to learn
that the pond has suddenly changed in every way. But it stretches you
in ways most University programs can't. Frankly, criticism by writers
is shockingly different than the college versions. Here are a couple
little anecdotes. February, Boston, a long time ago. I came into
Harvard square to go to Groliers (still quite a store for poetry) and
I was too early. It was about 9:00 and they didn't open until 10:00. I
just stood outside looking at the titles in the window and stuff on
the door. The owner was inside working and she unlocked the door.
"We're not open yet," she said and then stared at me. Long pause. "Are
you from Warren Wilson?" she said. I was floored. There was nothing to
give me away and it wasn't exactly North Carolina. "How did you know?"
I asked. "I don't know," she said. "There's just something about you
guys." Then she unlocked the door, let me in, relocked the door, and
let me have at it. Gerald Stern came to WW when I was there and he was
still running Iowa. After spending the week with us he told us he
thought WW was the best writing program in the US, over Iowa! Sorry if
this is way more than you want to know but at WW I learned that my
imagination knew more than I did, that it could be trusted when I
could not be, that it was a source of healing, and that mentorship
happened along side the mentor as a sister or brother. Not exactly
standard fare. Smiles yourself, Sarah


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Feb 1, 2000, 10:05 AM

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Sarah- You should be writing testimonials for Warren Wilson! I am so
impressed with your enthusiasm! Not to mention your penache for
putting those feelings into sentence form. I mailed off my Warren
Wilson application this morning. I spend an entire week poring my
critical analysis, which I think turned out okay for someone who
hasn't written like that in four years. I refuse to get psyched out,
but I am now on the proverbial pins and needles. I assume they make
decisions after March 1. Anyone else out there applying to low-res
programs? If you can't tell I'm desperatly trying to keep this topic
alive! he-he! Thanks again Sarah! Kristin


georgesand
Sarah Woodside

Feb 1, 2000, 3:14 PM

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Kristin, Good luck! Sarah


olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 1, 2000, 7:18 PM

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olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 1, 2000, 7:19 PM

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...wondering, how does anyone decide? RD


aeedwards
Arthur Edwards

Feb 1, 2000, 8:24 PM

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I say do the best damn job you can with your packages, send them out
and let fate decide. Seriously consider a life without Graduate
School. Explore every option besides going to graduate school and
becoming a MFA fiction/poetry writer. Consider how you could study
independently, giving yourself the same education you desire from a
MFA program, at a fraction of the MFA cost. I've been grappling with
the 'to MFA or not to MFA' problem off and on for seven years. This is
what I needed to do: understand that the MFA degree is only one path
to a life of writing. One friend of mine is a road tech for a band. He
desperately wanted to be a fireman but they wouldn't let him test for
the certification because he was caught with marijuana when he was 16.
Another friend of mine is a film maker who has to solicit friends and
family for thousands of dollars just to do get the equipment he needs.
What freedon to be a writer! You don't need a certification or degree
or a ton of money or the respect of your peers to achieve your vision.
Just a pencil, paper and a little time. As for income, there are so
many options for that...


olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 1, 2000, 10:34 PM

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olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 1, 2000, 10:38 PM

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raphaela
Michelle Topham

Feb 2, 2000, 10:04 AM

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Rose, it's something to do with your browser. If you keep having
problems, one way to prevent it is to finish your post with something
like this. ********************************* That way, it will delete
the last few stars instead of the last few words.


olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 2, 2000, 10:26 AM

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Michelle, thanks-- it's stars and stars from here on....
**************************************


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Feb 2, 2000, 10:29 AM

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You're welcome :-)


aeedwards
Arthur Edwards

Feb 2, 2000, 2:44 PM

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Give the world another shot, Rose. I was in the same place about two
months ago. I was convinced that an MFA program was the only thing
that could bring me what I wanted. Since then, I've started a new job,
my personal life is rolling along nicely and I have an alternative
"MFA" program ready to go if I'm not accepted, and all because I
decided to take some eggs out of the MFA basket and put them in other
places. It's been a liberating experience.


pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 2, 2000, 6:01 PM

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I didn't go to WW, but I did go to Goddard, which is set up pretty
similarly. I had no trouble maintaining my enthusiasm for the program
and the work. I was in touch with my advisor every three weeks, and
with other students regularly via e-mail (Goddard has a maillist for
its MFA students). When necessary, I knew how to get in touch with my
advisor between packets, or other faculty at any time. But this sort
of program is for people who can do it alone. If you're going to need
more direct contact, for whatever reason, a low-res won't work for
you. I found that the feedback I got was always positive and
productive. (O.K., with one exception on a critical paper, where I had
turned in something that was not what the program required.) If I
started running out of steam, I could go back and look at the last
letter again, and that reminded me what my goals were for the current
period. And, again, I knew what my overall goals were and that I had
to do the work to achieve them. And I did achieve them, and my writing
is much better now than it was before I started. dmh


georgesand
Sarah Woodside

Feb 2, 2000, 11:15 PM

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Rose, I agree with David. I also had contact every 2-3 weeks and I
mean conrtact. Extremely precise and detailed comments on everything
from particular aspects of writing, to how to deal with my own issues
about writing. Remember how personal this is. A teacher has no more
than four students at WW. The letters I received were usually about
six single spaced pages of comments to ME only. That is every intense
and very worthwhile which is not to say easy. I was either working
very hard to get a packet ready-two critical pieces on what I was
required to read plus at least four new poems. The semester I did my
critical thesis was a little different obviously. I made some very
close friends there and we did stay in touch but we were also all very
busy. I was newly married, moving, traveling, and had my daughter
while in the program. I gave my graduation reading six months pregnant
with my son. An MFA is obviously not the only way. And it does cost
alot of money. I don't know how else though, most people can enter
into the intense kind of creative work in community. There are a few
who are already part of a creative world but it's hard to be mentored
in the steady, disciplined, and professional way it works in a good
MFA. I have several friends who went to Vermont and also loved it. I
think it's delusional, however, for the average talented aspiring
writer to stay motivated only putting their heart and souls into a
drawer that no one reads. Or working without living models. I was
stunned at the difference between my college English professors and
working, publishing writers. I finally found myself in a place where
my interests were understood and needed no explanation. It's hard to
describe how transforming that is for most who go through it.
Downsides. The programs eventually end. You go back to your life and
try to keep up the same head of steam. But usually your readers aren't
as gifted, local workshop no way near as sophisticated etc. But then
you start giving local readings and then a publications etc. etc. Or
you write only for pleasure but have an extremely articulate means of
artistic expression at your disposal. I think it's not really a
rational decision. It's a choice about paths in life. Sarah


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Feb 3, 2000, 10:43 AM

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Sarah, I guess I feel the opposite to you that I wonder how someone
who is a writer *wouldn't* have the discipline necessary to write. For
myself, for instance, I read and write more now than I ever did when I
was in college. I'm already writing most days for at least 2 hours
every day and reading a book a day. I can't believe that I would be
writing any more if I was in an MFA program especially as I would
still be working full-time in order to be able to pay for it. I
suppose it takes all kinds, but all the people I know who are writers
(both of books and screenplays) write every day and many of them are
writing four, five, six hours a day. None, that I know of, have an MFA
or any desire to get one.


olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 3, 2000, 2:37 PM

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pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 3, 2000, 9:23 PM

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I teach now, which pretty much depletes my head of steam. If there
were one near me, I would join a writers' group, though. (I tried to
organize one, but got responses only from those whose experience was
considerably less than my own, and you need rough parity for it to
work.) dmh


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Feb 4, 2000, 9:44 AM

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MFA or not to MFA? That is the question of the week, year, lifetime. I
think we all have our own reasons for applying- a need for community,
discipline, practice. For myself, I am looking for close, professional
critiques of my work. I've been writing in a vacuum for so long, that
I need someone to help me develop and destroy my writing. But ya know,
if I don't get in- that's cool, too. It just means that I'm going to
have to work harder to get where I need to be. Kristin


olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 4, 2000, 11:58 AM

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pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 4, 2000, 3:42 PM

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The main reason my teaching interferes with my writing is that I'm
still learning how to teach, and (okay, the two main reasons) I'm
terribly disorganized. If I didn't waste time, coming here for
example, I'd have finished my revisions long ago. dmh


thereseb
Therese Borden

Feb 4, 2000, 4:29 PM

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Your posts here may be a waste of time for you, o pongotoo, but they
certainly are not a waste of my time to read them. Every time one of
you thoughtful and articulate types on Speakeasy calls your posting a
waste of time, I sigh. I read certain contributors faithfully and I
would be sorry to see you depart. We have our share of obstreperous
bores but they are the minority. Maybe it would help to think of your
posts as your daily or weekly column in the ethereal rag, Speakeasy.


pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 4, 2000, 5:20 PM

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If I thought of these as a column I would feel even worse about it;
when I did write a column I got paid for it. dmh


olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 6, 2000, 2:14 PM

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pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 6, 2000, 2:48 PM

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I ran into a problem at Goddard with my major critical paper. My first
one was rejected. Not sent back for revision, rejected outright. You
see, we were supposed to do a close reading of a text (or texts), and
I wrote something theoretical. So my advisor told me to start over
again from scratch. On the other hand, she loved my second try. And my
two short critical papers (these are the formal papers; there is a
great deal of informal critical writing at Goddard) were well
received; one of them needed some relatively minor revision, the other
none. In none of these cases was I asked to fit into an advisor's way
of thinking. Only in some of my annotations was I asked to redirect my
thinking, and then I believe it was only so that I could learn certain
things, not so that I could think like Michael Klein. (Some advisors
like more rigorous annotations, others more personal, and it takes one
packet to get that sorted out.) The bulk of the emphasis at Goddard is
on the creative work, but you do have to turn out three formal
critical papers -- one of them 20 pages. You also must complete a
teaching practicum and write a major essay on that; it's one full
packet. And several of the required seminars at the residencies are
about critical thinking. dmh


olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 6, 2000, 3:56 PM

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pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 6, 2000, 7:46 PM

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When you do it is up to you; I did it in my last semester, which is a
really bad idea. I would start organizing it when I got home from the
first residency. Where you do it is also pretty much up to you. But it
can't just be a workshop in your living room. It must be a course
through some existing organization (mine was through the recreation
department, which offers a variety of courses), it must have an
initial enrollment of I think eight, and it must run for 15 class
hours. You find your own observer to write it up (the program provides
information for the observer so she knows what they want). And there
are workshops at every residency on how to get all this organized. dmh



olivia12
Rose Dorn

Feb 7, 2000, 12:24 PM

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pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 7, 2000, 5:57 PM

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The size of the program varies. I was up at Goddard for the last
Clockhouse Conference (a writing conference for alumni that overlaps
the summer residency and graduation), and it seemed to me that there
were about a hundred students floating around, but I didn't take a
count. That would be some growth in the year since I graduated. And I
never had any trouble finding people whose opinion I could respect
concerning my work or anything else. I might not have appreciated
everyone, but there was a core of us who stayed together more or less
through my time in the program (some graduated, others joined, etc.).
I am still in touch with a few of them. Some advisors run their
residency programs as workshops, so you wind up getting a lot of
feedback from your co-advisees, and there are formal readings almost
every night. There are also regular informal readings and workshops in
the dorms, probably several each night. If you want to find people,
they are around. (And if you're just looking for people with whom you
can get drunk and argue about modernist poetry, they're there, too. We
formed a group one summer, the New Redneck Poets, whose chief
functions were to track down the single-malt scotch and consider the
role of verse drama in the modern world. At least I think that was
what we were talking about.) Yes, I am a fictioneer. My advisors
didn't offer me much advice on craft because I arrived with my craft
pretty well polished. In fact, my first-semester advisor took me aside
and suggested that I not come to his workshop on craft, since I
already knew everything he had to say. I needed lots of work in other
areas, just not that one. Other people said they got a lot out of it,
and out of various other workshops. When I was working with Sarah
Schulman (no longer there), she did some craft-oriented exercises with
her people at residencies, although she mostly worked on teaching us
how to think like writers. But this will in any case depend on who you
are working with and who is on the faculty, which tends to change a
lot. dmh


raphaela
Michelle Topham

Feb 8, 2000, 1:39 PM

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I met someone this weekend that did the low-res program at Antioch
here in LA. He said that, on the whole, other than a few minor
frustrations - having to discipline himself to work, not feeling quite
as supported as he would if he was in a full-time program and was in
class every day with other writers - he felt like the program was a
good one. He definitely feels that his writing has improved because of
it and he now has more direction as far as where his goals lie.
Obviously, it's all subjective - but it was nice to finally meet
someone in the flesh who had gone through one of these programs and
felt good about it.


aeedwards
Arthur Edwards

Feb 8, 2000, 3:22 PM

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And Antioch's acceptance rate is in the 25-35% range, much better than
some of the other West Coast options.


georgesand
Sarah Woodside

Feb 17, 2000, 12:29 AM

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Sorry I've been away for awhile. To answer a few questions back there
that I scrolled through...I have been teaching the last five years and
have now come back to my own work. I did write while I was teaching
but with a different kind of energy--less. Warren Wilson is very
rigorous about the critical work but my reading lists were formed from
teachers' responses to my work. They would explain why they wanted me
to read a certain poet at a certain moment and it usually made sense.
No, there really wasn't any of the normal academic preoccupations in
this work. More a super kind of seeing, developing the eye, learning
more articulate ways to talk about the poem. It didn't feel at all
rigid to me--usually more of a gift. I really don't understand the
energy behind the debate about whether to go to an MFA or not.
Obviously many writers do what they do without it, and as was
mentioned by someone back there--they have no interest in doing it.
Great. Other writers' lives are changed and their work immeasurably
matures.


rrc2
Rhonda Cutler

Feb 17, 2000, 4:56 PM

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Hi David and all I've been meaning to write since I returned from my
first semester residency at Goddard. It was extraordinary as much for
the diversity of people which the school draws as for anything else.
For your first semester, you are matched with an advisor although you
get to choose your own advisor for subsequent semesters. But the
matchings are uncanny - for almost everyone I've talked with, the
chemistry is there. The work load is heavy. You send in a packet every
three weeks which should include 2-3 annotations (which means you've
read 2-3 books) and 25 pages of new creative writing, plus revisions
on your prior work. And in addition to that, you must submit 3
critical papers some time during your four terms, which are more
academic in approach (and lengthier). Then you have your teaching
requirement, teaching essay, as well as your manuscript to complete
before graduating and I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff. Many students
take 5 semesters to get through it all. There are approximately 70
students at Goddard, about 20 of whom were first semester students,
the highest intake in quite some time. I would guess roughly half are
fiction writers and one quarter poets and the balance playwrights,
screenwriters, etc. The location is quite rural (and run down) and
feels as much like a very intense summer camp as anything else. But
the students are uniformly enthusiastic about the experience and the
graduate student readings were knockouts. I'm finding it very
important to stay in contact with classmates, however, to keep going -
but I am staying on top of the work. It's too early to say whether I
see improvement in my writing, but I am certainly reading and thinking
about literature in a much more active, critical fashion. I hope this
helps. Regards, Rhonda


pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 17, 2000, 9:16 PM

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Rhonda, if you haven't signed up for the Goddard MFA mailing list,
make sure you do that. It helps a lot in staying in touch between
residencies. Who's your advisor for this term? dmh


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Feb 18, 2000, 9:52 AM

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Good Morning Everyone! Thanks for keeping us posted about the
workloads at Warren Wilson and Goddard. It sounds so exciting to be in
that flow reading, thinking and writing with a critical eye and ear
toward literature. I get goosebumps even thinking about it. Rhonda-
you mentioned graduate readings. Where do most of the Goddard
graduates end up after finishing the program? (besides in debt-
he!he!) Do many of them continue teaching? Lecturing? Or do they
return to writing full-time? And what do you mean by "run-down"? In
the quaint sense? Thanks! Kristin


pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 18, 2000, 3:26 PM

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Of the Goddard grads I know (I'm still in touch with a few of those I
graduated with, through the annual alumni writers conference) some are
writing full-time, some are teaching full-time, and some are writing
on the side, just as they always intended. I don't know if it's true
at other programs, but a lot of the people at Goddard aren't there for
the teaching credential or to make financial careers; they're there to
improve their writing, and if something comes out of that, that's
dandy. dmh


rrc2
Rhonda Cutler

Feb 18, 2000, 3:31 PM

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Hi everyone Thanks David for that, I will sign up. Marina Budhos is my
advisor. However, she will be on maternity leave next term. Kris, I
can't tell you where most of the graduates end up as I am too new to
the program. The few I know supplement their incomes as writers by
teaching part time. The person who told me about Goddard in the first
place has an article in this month's Poets & Writers, Lynne Merideth
Cohn. She teaches and runs writing camps for children although she is
a poet. What I meant by run down, is that Goddard's physical plant is
functional but tired - the summer camp analogy applies there as well.
The location, however, is beautiful and the basic facilities were
really not a problem. The school is located about 10 miles from
Montpelier, Vermont's state capital - where incidentally Vermont
College is located. If you did decide to go to Goddard and were within
driving distance, I would bring my car (in the summer anyway) as
without a car, you're pretty much confined to the campus. Hope this
helps, Rhonda


pongotoo
David M. Harris

Feb 18, 2000, 4:36 PM

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Marina is very, very good. I never worked with her (Sarah Schulman was
there at the time, and she was even better), but I did a few of her
workshops. Plainfield, on the outskirts of which Goddard is located,
has some surprising assets (considering that it's a town of a couple
of hundred people). There's a good used bookstore, and Riverrun (right
on the river in downtown Plainfield) has wonderful breakfasts and a
first-rate house garlic sauce. dmh


august1
Adrian Blevins

Feb 19, 2000, 11:36 AM

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I'm just posting this (and hiding it) so I can delete the old messages
so I don't have to keep reading them so I can get in this
conversation, if you all don't mind.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Mar 1, 2000, 10:46 AM

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Good morning everyone! Now that most of the deadlines are past for the
June residencies- how is everyone surviving? Does anyone know when we
should be hearing from the low-res schools? Kristin


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 1, 2000, 12:48 PM

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I'm assuming March? April?


pongotoo
David M. Harris

Mar 1, 2000, 4:11 PM

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Goddard answers when they make up their minds. I had a roommate at one
residency who had heard that he was accepted ten days before he got
there. dmh


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Mar 2, 2000, 9:54 AM

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Well.....that means another month or two of nervous stomach
twitchings! Yeah! Kris


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 2, 2000, 11:14 AM

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Anyone else apply to Warren Wilson?


aeedwards
Arthur Edwards

Mar 2, 2000, 1:54 PM

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I almost applied to Wilson but opted for Antioch LA for location
reasons. I live in SF. Anyone else apply to Antioch LA?


champa2
Champa Bilwakesh

Mar 2, 2000, 3:28 PM

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Adrian I applied to Warren Wilson and Vermont College. I have been
accepted at Vermont and I amquite happy and looking forward to it. But
i am also waiting to hear from Warren Wilson. So far i have only
gotten a card that saying my application has been recieved and all is
in good order. I think they let you know by April 15th. Anyone else
going to Vermont College?


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 3, 2000, 10:44 AM

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I thought about applying to the other low res programs, but I think
Warren Wilson has the best rep. April 15? God Almighty, or, as my
grandmother used to say in order to express surprise: Pon My Word And
Honor. I never quite knew what that meant. I got the postcard, too.


elissainpdx
Elissa Nelson

Mar 8, 2000, 9:05 PM

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here's a question: so, I'm looking into low-res MFA's partly as a way
to qualify for grant/scholarship money to research this novel I want
to write... did anyone out there get private money to get their MFA,
or did any of the programs give any kind of significant financial aid,
either need or merit based? I am in the very first stages of looking
into this--so far no one I've talked to at any of the schools has
shown much enthusiasm about getting me financial aid, go figure.
there's been lots of transferring back and forth between admissions
and financial aid departments, and little real information. I'm
curious what people's experiences have been. also--following is a list
of the programs I know about and have requested info about--are there
any others? vermont, bennington, warren wilson, antioch LA, goddard.
someone said something about the art institute of chicago? is that
low-res? thanks-- Elissa


pongotoo
David M. Harris

Mar 8, 2000, 9:34 PM

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I got a couple of hundred dollars from the state of Vermont towards
the cost of Goddard, and I got the distinct impression that was what
there was to get. dmh


wiscokid
Robert Schwoch

Mar 9, 2000, 7:31 AM

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Part of the rationale behind low-res programs is that you get to keep
your day job. Consequently financial aid is all but nonexistent.
Southampton College of Long Island University has a relatively new
low-res program that offers scholarships and teaching opportunities.
At least one person from Speakeasy ended up there, but I can't
remember any feedback.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 9, 2000, 8:53 PM

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I don't think there's money, sadly. Hollins pays for most of the
students they accept, but that's an MA. A lot of Hollins people write
say, a draft and one half of a novel during the MA time, and a lot of
others have written books of poetry, but it's just a one-year deal. So
there are advantages and disadvantages, I guess. But the low-res
places? No money. Or little money. Warren Wilson has some sort of
minority thing going, and I kept wondering how to convince them I was
in the minority, but I couldn't figure out a way...


aeedwards
Arthur Edwards

Mar 15, 2000, 2:04 PM

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Antioch LA has sent out their letters of acceptance. I got a phone
call yesterday from Bernard Cooper stating I should receive a letter
this week (Actually, he was surprised I hadn't received it yet) and
that I needed to respond to it by 3/31. He said the response to the
program this year, especially in fiction, was more than they expected.
Good luck to anybody else who applied to Antioch, LA.


samh
Sam Howie

Mar 15, 2000, 6:32 PM

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Adrian, I'm also accepted to Vermont, waiting to hear from Warren
Wilson. I think we're winners either way, because both programs are
good. Good luck wherever you end up. Perhaps I'll see you one place or
the other. Did you have to pay the $250 to reserve a spot at Vermont ?
Sam


samh
Sam Howie

Mar 15, 2000, 6:35 PM

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Oops! I think my posting was actually directed to champa. I got the
names mixed up. Sam


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 15, 2000, 7:52 PM

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I have an MA from Hollins, Sam, but have applied to Warren Wilson. Ten
years ago I did the Hollins thing. I'm OLD. (Well, not really THAT
old, I hope.) I guess we'll hear in April?


samh
Sam Howie

Mar 15, 2000, 8:40 PM

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I'm pretty old myself, but as I understand it, the low-res. programs
are comprised of people of all ages.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 15, 2000, 8:57 PM

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That would be good--people of all ages. Did you apply for poetry or
fiction?


samh
Sam Howie

Mar 15, 2000, 9:58 PM

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Fiction. I love reading poetry, but I'm no poet. You?


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 16, 2000, 10:30 AM

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My Hollins MA was in fiction. But, oh, they were terrible, terrible,
terrible stories. Oh, TERRIBLE. Even some were published, but they
were terrible. I'm serious. My BA was in fiction, too, and terrible,
too. The thesis, which was a book of short stories, makes me shake my
head and cry. Anyway, I left Hollins and started teaching in a number
of places and somehow ended up back at Hollins, teaching, and for some
reason started writing poems. I had not written poems since I was a
freshman in college. So I have never studied poetry formally, though
I've been teaching myself what I can and have friends who try to help.
I've always written essays. I want to work these 25 hours on my craft,
and somehow support my children, as well. I wish they would let us
know something.


samh
Sam Howie

Mar 16, 2000, 7:43 PM

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Adrian, I've written many terrible stories, too, though I think we are
our own worst critics, and sometimes too hard on ourselves. Good luck!



anneursu
Anne Ursu

Mar 16, 2000, 10:15 PM

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Hi! I know Adrian from the MFA board... I applied to a few schools,
the only mlow res was Warren Wilson but it was close to my favorite
all along, and now with my hubby into Stanford, is defiantely my
favorite. I'll apply to more low-res in the summer if this doesn't
work out (and then read all 345 postings here. Much less daunting than
the MFA one.) But I just wanted to say I'm with you guys.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Mar 17, 2000, 10:08 AM

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Hi everyone! Congratulations on acceptances to Vermont College!
Waiting patiently for Bennington and Warren Wilson to swing the
ax....arrrgh. But even if nothing happens, I took the first step
yesterday to connect with other writers to start a once-a-month
writer's group. I had to do something in the meantime! Good luck
everyone and hang in there! Kris


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 17, 2000, 1:46 PM

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It IS lonely out here, out of school, just you and the page and the
spring. Yet I've tried some local workshops, and for some reason they
annoy me, I think because it seems I critique more than I get
critiqued--you know those critiques where they say "this is good," and
"this is working," and nothing else? And you know it isn't true...I
like the way WW seems to be set up--you and maybe four others and your
faculty writer. I wish I knew whose those faculty writers were going
to be, though.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 17, 2000, 4:42 PM

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At least you've got the spring. I've got snow on the ground. dmh


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 18, 2000, 9:58 AM

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Oh, yes, the spring: I, for one, am very thankful. I'll try to send
some your way.


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Mar 18, 2000, 4:29 PM

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Hi Sam Congratulations on the accaptence to VC. I live in Andover MA
so the proximity is very attractive. I was also quite impressed at the
open house and so am looking forward to June. Yes I did send in my
deposit, I didn't think there is a choice. I just want to know if I
got inot WW, i may not accept. I ma glad finally there is someone else
here going to VC!


samh
Sam Howie

Mar 19, 2000, 3:22 PM

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Hi champa I don't think there was a choice about the $250, so I sent
mine in too. However, the thing that makes Vermont attractive to you
(proximity) make Warren Wilson attractive to me. I live in
Spartanburg, S.C., almost in the foothills of the N.C. mountains. I
can drive to Warren Wilson in a little over an hour whereas Vermont is
either a plane trip or a sixteen hour drive. Both schools are good.
Good luck wherever you end up. Same to everyone out there. P.S. I had
the pleasure of meeting Brett Lott (professor in the VC program who
has been anointed by Oprah and her Book Club) while he was in my
hometown for a reading. He seems to be a very committed educator as
well as a really good writer.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 19, 2000, 8:08 PM

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Sam, let me know if you hear anything from Warren Wilson--I'm close,
too: in Virginia. But I have a problem with this baby that I refuse to
wean. I'm thinking of making my husband come with me and stay in a
motel room for 10 days, provided I get in: because I don't want to
wean her! Oh, please don't make me!


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 28, 2000, 10:38 AM

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Are you all still around? I got a phone call. I don't know if I should
post this news or not, though.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 28, 2000, 10:45 AM

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Why not? From whom was the call? I suspect no one would call you to
let you know you hadn't been accepted, so why not share the good news?
dmh


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 28, 2000, 11:20 AM

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I feel guilty. I'm so Southern and therefore oddly damaged. I have
many, many problems, and one of them is that I always feel guilty. But
they said they'd love to have me. Peter Turchi called, from Warren
Wilson.


aeedwards
Arthur Edwards

Mar 28, 2000, 1:58 PM

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Aw, come on. Strut alittle. Really, congratulations.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 28, 2000, 3:37 PM

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Congratulations. You could even post that in one of the good news
topics. dmh


samh
Sam Howie

Mar 28, 2000, 6:05 PM

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Congratulations Adrian! I'm still waiting to hear.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 28, 2000, 9:36 PM

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Thanks, everyone. Sam, I hope they call soon.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Mar 29, 2000, 10:44 AM

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Congatulations Adrian! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I'm
waiting on Warren Wilson and Bennington....let's see what happens!
Kris


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 30, 2000, 4:41 PM

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Everyone, keep us dated, now. The anxiety is too much even for me.


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Mar 30, 2000, 10:13 PM

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Adrian, that is terrific. Good. You must post things like that! It
doesn't seem like they wasted any time accepting you. Are you fiction
or poetry, I can't remember... You need to post this on MFA too!


august1
Adrian Blevins

Mar 31, 2000, 10:03 AM

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Poetry. And yet the anxiety of getting in is replaced instantly with
money-anxiety. It seems there is no peace.


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Apr 3, 2000, 9:53 AM

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Adrian, congratulations, that is awesome.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 3, 2000, 3:37 PM

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Thanks. I wish the others would come back in here, though. I miss
them.


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 3, 2000, 5:47 PM

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I'm still here, still waiting to hear from WW. Adrian, have you gotten
info stating exactly who the faculty and guest writers will be this
summer at WW?


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 3, 2000, 6:19 PM

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Champa, Do you know of any visiting writers at VC for the summer?


robt
Robert Thomas

Apr 4, 2000, 1:06 AM

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I've just finished the first half of my first semester at Warren
Wilson (I started midyear in January.) I think Sarah's description of
the program is very accurate. I might not be as enthusiastic as she,
only because I haven't been in the program long enough to feel I can
judge. Of course there are trade-offs. There are afternoons I've spent
reading Yeats--not "analyzing" or "academicizing" it but just really
getting into it--that I could have spent on my own writing instead.
How do you measure the value of that? The correspondence with one's
teacher is also special--to have not only the chance to get feedback
on one's own work, and to study other writers--but to write in-depth
letters to a serious writer who will respond to you seriously and in
depth (whether or not you agree with him or her)--whether you're
writing about your concern over (not) making a living, or your
thoughts on the connection between poetry and jazz, or that pesky poem
of yours that won't come out right. I also think the criticism I've
gotten has been--not more intelligent or sensitive than the good
criticism I've gotten from writing friends--but perhaps more daring
and demanding. You might say that instead of being told that a
sentence might be awkward or cliched, a teacher is more likely to
suggest that you try changing your whole novel from first- to
third-person, and just see how it sounds then. My sense is that WW is
a great program if you want an MFA program, but if you don't want one,
I wouldn't argue with your decision. P.S. This is the first I've
gotten back into Speakeasy since it crashed in January. Hi, everyone!


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 4, 2000, 12:33 PM

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Sam, I haven't gotten the list yet. I don't think they know just yet
who's coming. I gather that a lot of people applied, and that they
really do take--at least in poetry--less than ten percent of the
people who apply. I think it's going to be A LOT of work. I'm up for
it, I think, but I won't know, really, until I get there. Hi, Robert
Thomas. You're a poet, too? Do they assign you your teacher or do you
pick?


robt
Robert Thomas

Apr 4, 2000, 1:32 PM

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At the beginning of each semester, you fill out a form describing what
interests you want to pursue that semester (to the extent you have
something particular in mind). You can also at that point request
assignment to particular teachers, although it's required that you
give at least three names of people you'd be happy to work with--you
can't request just one. You can also just say you leave the choice to
them, which is what I did, and what a lot of people do, and I'm very
happy with the teacher I was assigned to--it's a good fit. During each
residency the faculty for the upcoming semester meet and decide who's
assigned to whom, so they make the ultimate decision. They base their
decision on the statements people have written on their interests, and
on the sample of their work that's going to be workshopped during the
residency. I think they make a very diligent effort to match students
with teachers who feel a genuine enthusiasm for their work, and with
whom they'll have some genuine rapport. Most students seem very
pleased with their assignments, but that's not to say sometimes there
aren't bad fits and a student will end up struggling for a semester
with a teacher they don't get along with. Usually it works well.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 4, 2000, 3:59 PM

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Well, it seems I'll meet you in July? And workshop with you? Or is
there more than one poetry workshop? It's amazing to meet someone here
virtually...to virtually meet someone you will later meet. I thought
about applying to WW for three years before I did, and finally I did,
and I'm glad I did. But I haven't been an actual student in ten years,
so it should be interesting: here's wishing for us both that all the
good poems come tumbling out.


robt
Robert Thomas

Apr 4, 2000, 4:19 PM

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Yep, I'll be there, and look forward to meeting you! There will
probably be three or four poetry workshops, each with about 10 people.



august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 5, 2000, 10:59 AM

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Robert, that's a lot of poets. The more, the better, I say. When I got
my MA, I was supposed to be a fiction writer, but I wasn't really. I
suppose I just got side-tracked. Anyway, it will be interesting, and I
can't wait.


robt
Robert Thomas

Apr 5, 2000, 11:48 AM

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If you've got any specific questions on WW, Adrian, feel free to email
me (click on my name). However, after my vast three-month experience
there, I probably don't know a whole lot more than you do.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 5, 2000, 3:52 PM

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Has anyone else heard anything lately about schools? I haven't heard
from Bennington or WW, yet. I got a thanks but no thanks letter from
Vermon College for fiction. I'm taking it all with a grain of salt,
but I wondered what the status is out there. Thanks and chins up! Kris



anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 5, 2000, 4:52 PM

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I'd be very interested to know if calls for fiction for WW have
started to go out. I assume they have, that they wouldn't do them
separately from poetry, but... anyone know?


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 5, 2000, 6:16 PM

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Kris and Anne, I've applied to WW in fiction and I'm still waiting
too. Maybe the fiction manuscripts take longer to evaluate? Good luck
to both of you!


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 5, 2000, 7:01 PM

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Hi guys! Okay, I caved in and called WW and Bennington. I just moved
so I had to give them my new address, and both offices mentioned that
letters had not gone out, yet. WW said maybe in a week or so!
Bennington didn't say anything about timing, so I didn't press it.
Fingers crossed and breath held! Kris


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 5, 2000, 7:35 PM

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Thanks Kris. Nice of you. Wonder if that means they are still working
on fiction, or they've made the phone calls and cant be bothered to
crush our hopes and dreams yet. Hard to say!


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 5, 2000, 7:51 PM

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Thanks Kris.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 5, 2000, 11:47 PM

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\From what I hear, Bennington received a ton of applications this term
-- much more than last year at this time. I would imagine everyone
should hear from all the programs in the next couple of weeks. Good
luck to all. Reb


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 6, 2000, 10:33 AM

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I hope they notify poets first, since maybe it doesn't take as long to
read ten poems? And then they call the fiction writers? I don't know,
though. But good luck to everyone. No matter how long I write or what
I write or even who accepts what or who likes and doesn't like what,
it only gets harder. It seems to get harder. You learn more, and it
gets harder. Writing is a difficult thing to love, and impossible, for
me, not to. But it's expensive, you know? Emotionally?


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 7, 2000, 7:47 AM

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Getting an MFA is expensive financially AND emotionally, but I think
it will be worth it.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 7, 2000, 11:06 AM

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Worth it times ten million, I think, yes.


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Apr 9, 2000, 10:41 PM

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Hi Sam No I have not heard anything from VC since I sent away my
acceptance. I am getting a little antsy trying to figure out how to
get prepared. I am in the middle of a short story and I have another
one I would like ot workshop. I am also trying to read and now into
Nuruddin Farah's Maps - very interesting style. Nothing from WV
although I am not sure what Iwill do at this point if it is positive
as I am quite invested emotionally into VC.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 10, 2000, 9:50 AM

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To get ready for your first residency at any of the low-res programs
you should be thinking about what you want to read (and write about)
this semester, and what you hope to learn from it. At some point you
will have to organize your studies into a transcript, so it is a good
idea to start with some specific themes. For example, in my first term
at Goddard I worked on the centrality of character in narrative, and
on the literature of popular writing education. dmh


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 10, 2000, 2:19 PM

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I really like the idea of a narrative transcript.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 10, 2000, 4:39 PM

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Well, when you don't have courses, your transcript tends to be
narrative. At Goddard, we wrote our own transcripts and they ranged
all over the place. (Although those of us who were aiming at academic
jobs tended to stick closer to traditional formats.) dmh


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 10, 2000, 5:47 PM

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I know what you mean, Champa. I'm nervous about the whole thing right
now, but I'm also eager to jump in. Thanks for the advice on
preparation, David.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 12, 2000, 10:58 AM

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I had this beautiful fantasy in which I would go to my residency with
a secret collection of people that I would secret away in a motel
somewhere: the baby with her father, or one of my old students with
the baby, so I could secret away from the lectures and workshops and
nurse. But of course I can't do it. I have to leave the baby, and last
night I couldn't sleep because I thought that when she woke up to
nurse and her father went in to get her...when after she quit crying
that I wasn't there, he would go back to sleep in his deep, deep way
and somehow smother her. I mean, he's THAT unattentive in his sleep,
since I'm always there saying hush, hush now. Or I thought that she
would never quit crying and cry and cry for the whole ten weeks and
then hate me for the rest of her life. Or that he would fall apart
himself and come to get me during the residency, as he's done this
before, for instance while I was teaching a class. And yet I'm doing
to do it: I'm going to leave, I'm going to write, I'm going to drink
perhaps too much.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 12, 2000, 10:59 AM

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I meant ten days.


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 12, 2000, 10:46 PM

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You know, Adrian, WW is very liberal I hear about time...you could
start in the winter when your baby is a little older? I spoke to
someone today who is in his last year at WW in fiction. He said he
hadn't heard from them and hadn't heard and hadn't heard and then he
had to get back to Bennington by the 15th and he called and said,
"Whassup?' And WW said, "We'll call you back." And they called him
back in an hour and said he was in. That's the end of my story.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 13, 2000, 10:28 AM

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Adrian- Sounds like you have a lot to think about. Don't worry, it'll
all make sense to you as the time nears. You'll know what to do. But,
if you have a gift and talent to develop- do so! Whether its now or
later, you, you child and your husband will be grateful that you did!
Kris


thereseb
Therese Borden

Apr 13, 2000, 10:59 AM

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Adrian, they will survive for 10 days. It will not damage either of
them. Most fathers can handle it although some may whine. Getting up a
night to deal with a crying baby is a trick they can learn. When my
children were babies, everytime I went anywhere I went through exactly
this sort of trauma. There were a few trips I HAD to make for my
research. My husband handled the babies and although there was some
whining, he recognized that I should go and gave me his blessing. I
never went for more than two weeks on the outside but I suffered and
worried just as you are now. Don't be surprised if the baby punishes
you for a day or two after your return. It is not a big deal--they get
over it and live on to punish you big time when they are 13 or so.
Only when they are 13, they punish you for not letting them go alone
to the mall. I envy you those ten days. Go forth and enjoy!


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 13, 2000, 1:58 PM

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And I do have my own teenagers--14 and 11--to help with the baby, so I
don't know why I'm so worried about it. She loves her brothers very
much. But I am worried about it. I don't want to wean her, and I'm
going to have to. But I am going, and I'm looking forward to it, too.
It's just that I'm torn between these two parts of myself, I think.


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 13, 2000, 8:41 PM

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WW will be making final decisions by next week.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 14, 2000, 9:18 AM

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Next week? I
think I'm going to explode from nervous energy! Thanks Anne for
keeping us updated though. Kris


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Apr 14, 2000, 9:38 AM

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had a message from pete turchi from ww last night when i went home. i
cannot believe i have been accepted. had a nice long chat with him as
well about the faculty, the selection process for choosing your
advisor, the course work and having time to do one's own writing (a
complaint i have heard about ww) and feel very positive about the
program. what do i do now, VC (closer, can drive up and keep my car)
or WW (have to pay for air fare)? anyone else heard? this was was for
fiction.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 14, 2000, 10:04 AM

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I heard from him about poetry a couple of weeks ago. It seems they may
have called the poets first? And they're calling the fiction writers
now?


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Apr 14, 2000, 10:19 AM

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when i called them in december trying to get a decision since i needed
to respond to VC, i was told it will not be untill after 4/15. have
you received your packet? he mentioned i would need ot submit - if i
decide to accept - something by 5/3 for a workshop. is this true for
poetry as well? anything about funds? can anyone mention anyhting
about the accomodations, about ashville? can i get by without a car
for the residency?


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 14, 2000, 2:34 PM

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I would bget you anythinbg you can get by without a car, since its
designed for people from all over. I, personally, would say Warren
Wilson, because among those who know it is super well thought of. (At
Bread Loaf, Ellen Bryant Voight liked to brag that the poet laureate
said its the best creative writing program in the country.) They are
supposed to be very helpful there, too, you may just want to call and
talk to Amy Grimm, the MFA receptionist, about accomodations and car.
But I think the point of paying for the residency is that they take
care of you.


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 14, 2000, 2:35 PM

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Sorry about the typing. Apparently I am having a spaz.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 14, 2000, 3:04 PM

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Champa, yes the packet will come in the mail and explain almost
everything. There's a WW person in here who started in January, and
maybe he'll show up and answer more questions. Yes, all material to be
in the workshops needs to be there by 5/3, I think; I think it's 20
pages for fiction writers. I am going to drive, I think, and have a
breakdown about my baby while I'm in the car, as I have hardly been
without her these last fourteen months. Maybe I should get some books
on tape. Maybe I should eat green eggs and ham. Someone told me that
there's a beautiful herb garden in Asheville, but I don't know.
There's only going to be one day off--the rest of the time we'll be in
various lectures and classes and readings. It ought to be pretty
exciting, I'd say. They are not sure yet who is coming to teach--I got
a few names, but not all of them.


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 14, 2000, 5:52 PM

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Congrats, Champa! Asheville is a very nice place. I'm from South
Carolina, and in my opinion, Asheville is the best spot in the two
Carolinas. WW is actually just outside Asheville, and an automobile is
needed to get into Asheville.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 14, 2000, 7:28 PM

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Sam and Anne, I've been thinking about you both. I send you as many
good vibes as I have.


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 14, 2000, 11:05 PM

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Thanks Adrian.


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 14, 2000, 11:27 PM

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THank you. It turns out if I got in I would probably need to defer a
semester, so I'll be all right if I don't make it. Lord knows I'm
getting used to rejection.


robt
Robert Thomas

Apr 15, 2000, 2:30 PM

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You definitely don't need a car at Warren Wilson, but it's nice to
have one just so you can escape into town for a couple of hours, even
if only to get a decent cup of coffee away from the cafeteria. A
former student recommended that if I could afford it, I rent a car
while there, and I was glad I did. But many people are there with cars
so it's pretty easy to get a ride into town. If (unlike people like me
from the West Coast) you live close enough that you can drive from
home, it's nice to be able to fill your car with some luxurious
comforts like a decent pillow to supplement the airplane-style pillow
you're likely to find in your dorm room, so you can get some sleep.


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Apr 16, 2000, 8:28 AM

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Thank you everyone for all the information. Robert, how did you find
the environment as far as critiques of your work goes? How competitive
is it? i have heard some very negetive things about Iowa in this
respect and I understand it all depends on individual thresholds, but
that was one thing I liked about VC that it seemed a very supportive
environment. Thanks, Champa


robt
Robert Thomas

Apr 16, 2000, 10:41 AM

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Overall the community at WW is very, very supportive. I suppose it is
true that in the workshops there's an atmosphere that, while it's not
competitive, is rather "demanding." There's a tone of "We're here to
critique, not tell one another how great we are," and also that we're
here to try to figure out how to make our work great, not just OK. You
have to remember that over the course of a 10-day residency, each
person will get maybe one hour devoted to discussion of their work.
This means that each six months you will get one hour of a workshop
devoted to your work. This is not much time, and it goes by quickly!
WW discourages people from treating the workshops as the central focus
of their experience at the residency, and that's probably a good idea.
The workshops are probably anticlimactic for a lot of people. You will
not be hailed as a genius or denounced as a fool. I do think sometimes
you can get "eccentric" results due to the lack of time, i.e., people
may comment a lot on the strengths of one person's work but get on a
track of the weaknesses in another person's work even though it's just
as good. You really need to keep the whole experience in perspective.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 17, 2000, 10:49 AM

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Robert, that's good to know.


stevenc
Steve El

Apr 18, 2000, 12:48 AM

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First: humble and heartfelt thanks to the people who run this whole
thing and to those of you who write on this board. You made me really
happy -- for almost a whole day! Because I spent a nice Sunday
yesterday reading every post on this particular board, looking for any
clues I could find about which lo- res program would make my heart
thump most. Sounded like Warren Wilson is the house fave -- but sadly
enough, before discovering this board I sort of steered away from them
at the last second because the thought of doing a critical essay (just
to apply, sheesh) made me feel, I dunno, unbearably heavy. I know, get
used to it. Anyway, avoiding WW's extra-essay demand, I applied to
Bennington and to Vermont, and VT was kind enough to say yes, come
around this Winter, which made me incredibly happy, for about five
minutes. Of course you all know the psychosis: I now await
Bennington's verdict, and because They haven't yet replied, They have
of course been elevated. Now if They say no, I'm a sham and VT was
fooled (or needs to fill out their Winter roster). If They say yes,
I'm a genius and need to think twice about the need for further study,
and They are just they. Then I breathe more slowly... ...and wonder:
what *is* the real difference (if any) between VT and Bennington? In
all the posts, there seems less said about the Bennington experience
than any of the others (except: bring shower shoes, the financial
troubles report, and the not-so-nice office stuff--all interesting,
but...). And second in the sorta happily vague sweeps comes VT.
Everybody seeems to know somebody who liked it... but I haven't
figured out why. So, if you can help, by characterizing one or the
other, or both: What *is* the diff between these two somewhat beloved
institutions? Your responses will be deeply appreciated and read and
re-read often. 'Cause, well, you know... Peace. -SteveL


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 19, 2000, 12:21 PM

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Hi Steve, I tried writing this last night but got booted offline right
before I clicked post and lost everything, so here goes again. The
programs are similiar in many ways. I've only studied at Bennington,
but from talking with my friend I believe there are the following
differences between Bennington and Vermont. 1. Vermont has more
faculty selection, but you have less chance of studying with your
first and second choices. Bennington has less selection, but there's a
much better chance you'll study with your first and second choices. 2.
Vermont let's you study with the same faculty member twice, Bennington
doesn't. I'm not sure why you'd want to study with the same person for
two semesters, but some people do. 3. Bennington offers a third
semester switch meaning that if you're a poetry student, you can
devote your entire third semester to studying fiction or non-fiction
(or vice versa). I don't believe any other low-residency program
offers that. 4. Vermont's program has been around a little bit longer
than Bennington's. 5. The residency dates vary slightly. Often
Vermont's residency date will occur over a New Years or Fourth of July
holiday while Bennington's will not. That's because Bennington's
undergrad population are away from campus longer and there's a bigger
time window when the campus is available. I was accepted into both
programs last year. I had a difficult time deciding too, but I decided
on Bennington for the following reasons. One, Bennington seemed more
intimate. The director called me to let me know that I got in (and
answered all my questions) whereas Vermont simply sent me an
acceptance letter. Two, I slightly prefered the Bennington faculty and
visiting lecturers a bit more. Three, the Bennington residency times
were preferable, I didn't have to miss any holidays with my family.
Both programs have comparable tuitions (Bennington offers two Jane
Kenyon Scholarships ($1500) to two incoming poetry students, but
that's it.). Both campuses are freezing in January (and you have to
bring flip flops to Vermont too! Bennington hasn't cornered the market
on foot fungus!). The student work expected from both programs are
pretty close too. Did I make the right decision? I have no idea, but I
am happy with the decision that I made. And not to dismiss any of the
comments other posters have made about the Bennington office staff,
but I'm in the middle of my third semester and I have never had a
problem with them and I have found them quite helpful the times I did
need their help. Reb


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 19, 2000, 2:49 PM

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There are good reasons to do two semesters with the same advisor. I
did two (my second and fourth terms) with Sarah Schulman, and don't
regret it at all. She understood what I needed to learn and how to get
me to learn it, and she was a good combination of slave-driver and
sympathetic ear. Particularly in the last semester, when you're
driving for the basket and suddenly realize how much work is left to
do, it can be good to have an advisor with whom you're already
comfortable. (And I knew one person at Goddard whose work was, in the
view of the faculty, so weird that after his first semester there was
only one advisor who was willing to work with him.) dmh


stevenc
Steve El

Apr 19, 2000, 10:48 PM

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Wow Rebecca, thank you very much. I am like, way out over my skis on
all this, you know, pretty sure at this late-date that Bennington will
be Xeroxing my rejection any minute...now, and anyway if I re-read the
(abysmal) essay that I sent them one more time I'll have to decline
out of sheer embarrasment. But everything you said either confirms
things I sorta thought but wasn't sure, or adds "data-points" (just
got back from work, forgive me) that need chewing. So again, THANKS.
You know, in my experience there is only one emotional moment that
compares to the utterness of the wait on acceptances from Famous
Creative Writing Schools and that is the fracto-seconds between the
time one asks for a date (on the phone, like in junior-high, before
you can get drunk to do it) and the moment one hears..."Stevewho?" One
never thought that feeling could be sustained for months. Actually,
the biggest reason Bennington holds an attraction for me is the
presence of their non-fiction guy Sven Birkerts. Even though I'm a
fiction guy, what with their free-love 3rd semester, I could mebbe
study with him. Do you know of him? (For those who don't) he's a
literary critic who has made *reading*-literature his subject. The
Gutenberg Elegies is his great book. It's just a school-boy crush, but
I'd weep'n'tremble touching the hem of his garment. Dave, thanks for
your post too. I've really liked all yer stuff sprinkled throughout
the praire here. And yeah, Rebecca, I guess I kinda agree with Dave
that the oppty to study with someone more than one semester is
something I mark on the + side...as an undergrad I doubled dipped with
two really splendid profs, and moped like crazy when they wouldn't let
me take a 3rd class with 'em. Peace and data points for
everybody...I'm off to get drunk!


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 20, 2000, 1:28 AM

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Steve, I've met Sven several times, but I don't know him particularly
well. He's well regarded though. I understand David's point of view
about studying with the same person, but my take is that I only have
four semesters and there are more than four people I would like to
study with in poetry alone (let alone in other genres). I have to
decide by next week who I want to study with for my last semester and
there's more than one faculty person left that I'm interested in
working with. The program goes by so fast and I want to get the most
out of it but I realize I can't study with everyone. Good luck with
Bennington and whatever happens you've been accepted into one good
program and that's something to be proud of. Reb


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 20, 2000, 10:59 AM

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Just for reference, Steve, my name is David. Dave is someone else
altogether. dmh


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 24, 2000, 5:31 PM

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I still haven't heard a word from Warren Wilson, and even though I
feel pretty sure that only bad news can come at this point, I'd still
like to get the official word so I can make my final,
no-doubt-about-it decision between WW and VC. I tried to call WW but I
got the answering machine. Is anyone else still waiting to hear from
WW?


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 24, 2000, 8:52 PM

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Me too, and thus I am assuming that I have been negged as well. Hmmph.
When I called two weeks ago, they said we'd know in a week, but call
if you need to know more. Maybe call again? I may apply to a bunch of
low res schools in the fall or I may call it a day...


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 25, 2000, 6:39 AM

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I hope you'll apply to some others, Anne. Warren Wilson is supposed to
be a very good program, but other low-res programs are really good
too. Vermont College accepted me months ago. (They evaluate
applications on a rolling basis and will give you a prompt response.)
I've been reading their faculty members and I'm very impressed. I'm
really excited about getting started there, though it is a little more
expensive than WW and it will be a lot farther for me to travel.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 25, 2000, 8:50 AM

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Sam, I'm still waiting to hear the bad news from Warren Wilson and
Bennington. Has anyone else heard yeah or nay? Kristin


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 25, 2000, 1:00 PM

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You guys, I would just call and keep on calling. At Hollins,
sometimes, if someone didn't accept, there would be another person
they would wish to invite. It comes from just having so many few
slots. But it's been long enough, and so I'd just call.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 25, 2000, 1:24 PM

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Thanks for the advice Adrian! Did you attend Hollins before applying
to Warren Wilson? Thanks! Kristin


samh
Sam Howie

Apr 25, 2000, 3:33 PM

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I called Warren Wilson today and was told that they have a record
number of fiction applications and it's taking longer than they
expected to evaluate them all. The program assistant said I should
hear something in a week.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 25, 2000, 9:59 PM

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I really think they delt with the poets first at WW. It's probably
easier. Kristin, I went to Hollins about ten years ago. A century!
Well, a decade, but a century!


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 26, 2000, 10:22 AM

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Thanks Adrian! Funny to think that poetry is easier to read/go through
than fiction, isn't?.\ But I had that same initial reaction, and it's
probably true on some level. But I think the length of a poem is
deceptive, and in that knowledge comes the time needed to truly
evaluate its worth. I respect poets for their ability to carve into a
line a lifetime of messages! Just my two cents. Have a good day
everyone! Kris


champa2
Champa Bilwakesh

Apr 26, 2000, 5:20 PM

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Just to put this in some kind of perspective, if it helps: I was told
they had 175 applicants for fiction and had only 7 posiitons to offer.



pearlann
Kathy Whitman

Apr 26, 2000, 5:57 PM

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I just found this page and was reassured by reading the pain of
everyone's waiting. I applied to Bennington and felt sure something
would have shown up in the mail by now. Now that I read that they CALL
you if you get in, I don't want to look in the mail box. It could only
be a skinny envelope hiding in there.


anneursu
Anne Ursu

Apr 27, 2000, 10:03 AM

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Warren Wilson only had seven positions? I actually thought they took
many more. It's odd to me that they should tell us that they are still
sorting through applications while at the same time already telling
Champa the good news. I expected it to be more along the lines of they
just hadn't gotten around notifying people who hadn't gotten in, but
it has been three weeks since you heard, right? It sounds otherwise
like a bizarre kind of rolling admissions (which I wouldnt mind if
they had done, given I turned in my app in December!) Kath, glad you
found this. We all understand.


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 27, 2000, 11:28 AM

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Seven positions!


pearlann
Kathy Whitman

Apr 27, 2000, 12:15 PM

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I'm Curious. Has anyone heard from Bennington yet?


champa2
Champa Bilwakesh

Apr 27, 2000, 1:25 PM

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Anne, it could be they are saying this because they want a back up if
the offer is not accepted for any reason. They didn't give me much
time to accept, barely a week to send in my deposit. And I got 3 calls
in the mean time to find out if I will accept or not, not directly
asking of course but to just to make sure I had no questions. They
were extremely gracious and it took me, oh 5 minutes maybe, to decide
I want to go. Especially because VC had *raised* their fee. But then I
have to spend on air fare for NC. I had applied in Oct! I heard from
VC in Ded since they do have the rolling admission. Anyone else
starting at WW for fiction in July? Champa


stevenc
Steve El

Apr 27, 2000, 9:54 PM

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I have one of those wierd phone machines that only gives you like 45
seconds to say what you're gonna say, and (I'm not sure if I dreamed
this but) yesterday, the light was flashing and this really literary
sounding guy was on there, I mean a message from a really literary
guy, anyway all I heard was: Steve El, we are sooo glad you have
applied to our incredibly selective writing school because we think
your stuff is incomparable, unexcelled really. Your parents were
wrong, you DO have talent, and really it IS talent, talent, talent,
talent, that makes the difference, a-and you got it kid...*click*
Bennington? If they don't call back I'm going to just freak I didn't
buy the phone with the 60 second message! But seriously...Kath, I
haven't heard nothing, and I am also cringing at the mailbox, fearing
the dreaded skinny envelope. Wish you the best of luck!


august1
Adrian Blevins

Apr 28, 2000, 9:55 AM

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Champa, I guess you know I'll be there, in poetry. And Robert Thomas
started last Jan. I don't know of any fiction writers, but I'll bet he
does.


pearlann
Kathy Whitman

Apr 28, 2000, 1:00 PM

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Too funny Steve El. Maybe Bennington has a humor sub-specialty. If so,
you are a shoo-in. Really, good luck to you, too. What genre did you
apply to and why Bennington? My anxiety is heightened because I just
moved and I'm just sure the new owners of my house intercepted my mail
and fed my correspondance from B to their iguana. They need a lot of
roughage and don't mind swallowing rejection. Kath


stevenc
Steve El

Apr 28, 2000, 7:47 PM

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Kath, I applied to Bennington in fiction, mostly on account of it was
one of the Lo-Res schoools and I thought they had a good rep. I am
also a big fan of one of their faculty, a non-ficition guy by the name
of Sven Birkerts who is a very discerning critic, both literary and
social. His book on the fate of reading in the digital age, "The
Gutenberg Elegies" is quite good. A long-out-of-print collection of
critical essays, "American Energies," is also splendid, and gave me a
reading list of modern ass kickers that lasted years. Anyhoo, I'll
have to meet him at the Oscars, as I just received the skinny envelope
from Ben.. sorry, I can't bear typing the whole thing, but yeah, it
says right here on the rejection letter, sez: "You're not good enough
to even *study* at the school where Brett Easton Ellis honed his craft
(as a coke-addled 14 year old, by the by)." Damn. Hope your luck is
better...


pearlann
Kathy Whitman

May 1, 2000, 4:08 PM

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Sorry Steve. Will you try again in the future? I still haven't heard
anything. Probably the pony express just hasn't gotten to my mail stop
out here in Arizona yet. I doubt it would be good news for me either