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lynda

e-mail user

Oct 20, 2000, 1:29 AM

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Champa and Robert, Thanks so much for coming back and sharing your
experiences with us! Now I'm really excited about starting the MFA
program. How much of a Semester Project Proposal should I prepare in
advance? I'm planning on working on a novel, but I also want to draft
new short stories for a collection. Question: Does WWC allow an MFA
student to pursue two goals simultaneously (as one Semester Project).
Or will I have to choose just one narrowly defined goal and limit my
Semester Project accordingly? It would be nice to have the flexibility
of a two-pronged project. Champa, I have no experience doing
annotations, so I'll have to read the blue handbook again and try to
figure out what's expected. By the way, are you attending the Fiction
Workshop or the Novels Only workshop? I signed up for the former one.
Robert, do you like working with Tony Hogland? Will you state a
preference for a particular supervisor this next term? Or do you think
the committee there does a good job of matching students with faculty
members? Speaking of faculty, Amy Grimm has told me the names of six
or seven faculty members already committed for January. If I can find
her old e-mail, I'll come back and tell you who will be there. That
way we'll be able to think about the choices and do some research into
possible supervisors. Thanks again for your great input! I really
appreciate it. Lynda


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Oct 20, 2000, 12:11 PM

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Lynda I completed the draft of a short story that I had started last
year during this term. The division is only between fiction and
poetry, not within each genre. At least I don't think so! I have
signed up for the Novels Only workshop. This should be interesting.
Champa


robt
Robert Thomas

Oct 20, 2000, 12:26 PM

Post #503 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Hi, Lynda, if you know who some of the faculty will be at WW next
semester, you know more than I do, and I'd love to know. Working with
Tony Hoagland has been great. I do think it's important to have a good
match, i.e., just because someone's a good supervisor for one person
doesn't mean they'll be good for another. Most of the faculty does not
teach every semester, so there's a good chance that most of this
semester's teachers will not be teaching there next semester. I've let
the faculty match me with a supervisor both semesters, and they've
done a good job. In general I think they do an excellent job of
match-making, though as you typically have four supervisors over the
course of the program, a lot of people may look back and have one
semester when they felt the match was not exactly made in heaven. I
would say semester projects tend to be fairly loose, e.g. "I want to
pay particular attention to 'point of view' in my reading and writing
this semester." Some people do have specific projects ("I want to
finish my novel"). But people work out their projects with their
supervisor at the residency, and even then they may change over the
course of the semester. Just put down whatever you want to do (like a
two-pronged project), and I think they'll try to match you with
someone who'd be interested in working that way, but be open to
revising your project after talking with your supervisor about it.


lynda

e-mail user

Oct 20, 2000, 2:58 PM

Post #504 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Champa and Robert, Thanks again for your tremendous feedback about
what to expect at Warren Wilson. Regarding those faculty writers who
have signed on for January, I located an 8/26/00 e-mail from Amy Grimm
where she gave me a partial listing of "who had signed on already."
Here are the names Amy Grimm mentioned to me (NOT intended to be a
complete list, just who had signed on so far): "Andrea Barrett, Margot
Livesey, Judith Grossman, Susan Neville, Kevin McIlvoy, Kit Mcllroy,
Pablo Medina." Hope this partial listing of names helps you figure out
what you want to do next semester. Good luck. Thanks for sharing your
experiences with me here. Please come back here again, so we can chat.
Lynda [P.S. Do you bring a computer to the residency? Is there a
printer available on campus for MFA students to use?]


lynda

e-mail user

Oct 20, 2000, 2:59 PM

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--- Erased on Fri, 20 Oct 2000 15:00:08 EDT by ---


robt
Robert Thomas

Oct 20, 2000, 3:29 PM

Post #506 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Hey, where are the poets? I think those people all teach fiction. Oh
well ... There's a computer room on campus at WW with about 20
computers and a printer that you can use. Some people bring their own
computers (people who drive there, I suspect, not fly), but not me.


pearlann
Kathy Whitman

Oct 20, 2000, 4:40 PM

Post #507 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Hi All, Thrilled to see people posting in here again. I will be
applying to several lo-res programs for summer. I am in Arizona, so
Antioch in LA would be most convenient, but I don't hear much buzz
about it. I sent off for the info, and the workshops were just what I
was looking for. (Nonfiction: memoir, nature writing, essay, etc.) The
program information from Goucher was really intriguing as well, but I
haven't heard any first hand reports about it either. WW doesn't have
a non-fiction specialty. That leaves Goddard, Bennington, and Vermont
College. Does anyone know about Goucher or Antioch? Kathy


kidsauthor
Cassandra James

Oct 20, 2000, 6:32 PM

Post #508 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Kathy, I said a lot earlier in this topic, but don't mind repeating
myself - I requested the applications for Antioch last year and was
incredibly impressed with their response. Not only did I get
application material two days after I asked for it, I then got a
follow up phone call asking if I had any questions, got follow up e-
mail telling me they had two meetings coming up that I could attend to
get more info AND on top of that had one of their current students in
the MFA program also e-mail me asking if I had any questions. Very
impressed. They made me feel like not only did they really want me to
go there but, also gave me the impression that they would be really
helpful if I did end up being in the program. As it stands right now,
I've put off the MFA idea for at least a couple of years. I need to
get a real job and get the rest of my bills paid off before I do that.



lynda

e-mail user

Oct 20, 2000, 6:52 PM

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Robert, Sorry, that's all I know so far from contacting Amy Grimm.
Maybe she only mentioned those particular names to me since she knew I
was signed up for a fiction concentration. If I hear anything new,
I'll be sure to come back here and leave another message. Lynda


pearlann
Kathy Whitman

Oct 20, 2000, 8:17 PM

Post #510 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Michelle-- Thanks for responding and sorry to make you repeat
yourself. I have had a similar experience with Antioch. I think the
logic and progression of the program seems very coherent and
meaningful. I don't know much about the faculty, though. When I read
the schedule of the previous residencies, I was so ready to go. It's
important to think these things through carefully, though. So I will
keep trying to gather information for a while longer. Kathy


samh
Sam Howie

Oct 25, 2000, 6:30 AM

Post #511 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Dan, I just saw your posting. My first semester at Vermont College is
going very well. I think I'm twice the writer I was when I began the
program. The thing I like most about the VC program is that the focus
is on creative work. Though there is a critical component, it's
secondary to the creative component. Also, the faculty members are
very committed, and among my fellow students are people with whom I
expect to be lifelong friends. Sam


islander
Tamara Kaye Sellman

Oct 25, 2000, 5:59 PM

Post #512 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Hi Rhonda, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your discussion
about the value of the experience being measured by the relationship
between the writer and the mentor, that prestige shouldn't count. I
write on some very specific, political themes and it will be incumbent
of me to find the right mentor, one who will support those goals and
give tailored instruction to achieve them. I have my work cut out for
me, then. At the same time, I plan to go the extra term to get my
teaching certification. Where I live (Seattle area) it is expected
that you have good credentials whether you want to teach workshops
(independently from academia) or college courses. In Chicago, where I
used to live, I taught for local organizations and a writer's
collective, it was easier there to find students and to make money at
it without having extra education. Now that I'm in Seattle, I have to
bring more to the table. It's a completely capitalistic view of it,
but it's also what any entrepreneur would consider in making such an
investment. Prestige has to count if your goal is teaching. People
have heard of, say, Bennington, in these circles. That's a selling
point. People will lay out money to take away some of your presumed
expertise if you can substantiate it with a degree from a well-known
and respected institution. (Fine, I've been giving it away for free
for far too long!) Two years at the local community college, or a
handful of short-story credits, or self-publication or an e-book does
not open doors around here. The good news is, most of the MFA programs
cited here are highly credible: Vermont, Bennington, Goddard. WW and
Goucher are new to me, but that means nothing. Antioch, being newer,
is maybe a little short on presence, but neither does that mean
anything. I'm glad someone asked about pursuing multiple forms in
these programs. I have written short fiction for a long time, but I'm
working on a novel now, with three in-progress in the wings. I'd hate
to think I would have to drop one form for another. Tamara Anyone else
have plans for teaching after they have completed their programs?


lynda2
Lynda 2

Oct 25, 2000, 8:05 PM

Post #513 of 2662 (16778 views)
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I've noticed that Vermont MFA's show up in the faculty listings at the
back of university catalogs more frequently than some of the other low
residency programs that tend to get mentioned here. My perusings of
pedigrees don't claim to be scientific, but the Vermont tag does seem
to evidence itself surprisingly often when I skim through these
directories. Has anyone else attempted this kind of slapdash research
as regards where MFA faculty tend to gather their credentials... and
did they reach a similar conclusion? *************


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 25, 2000, 9:39 PM

Post #514 of 2662 (16778 views)
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The problem with doing multiple genres is that you have to complete a
manuscript in each one. It's hard enough writing a novel, or a play,
or a short story collection, much less one of each. I know that at
Goddard they will let you attempt it, but they also warn you how
difficult it is. (And most of those who attempt it break down and just
do one.) A survey of faculty degrees would have to factor in the age
and size of the programs. Until recently, Goddard was graduating six
to ten people per class, which would not show up as strongly as a
program that was graduating twenty. A new program might have only a
couple of dozen graduates altogether, so four of them employed would
be much more impressive than eight from, say, Warren Wilson, which has
been around for a while. dmh


dansaffer
Dan Saffer

Oct 25, 2000, 9:50 PM

Post #515 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Thanks to the folks who responded back. You all have made it harder
for me, since everyone seems to like the program they're in! I've
requested catalogs and admissions applications from all three (WW,
Vermont, Bennington) and I guess I'll apply to all of them and see how
it goes. How much weight are the letters of recommendation? I don't
really know any famous authors or editors to get letters from--in
fact, I'm wracking my brain to try to think of three people who'd have
the professional credentials to write me such letters. I'm about a
decade out of college and haven't really kept up with any of my old
profs. Any suggestions from anyone? Dan


lynda

e-mail user

Oct 25, 2000, 10:42 PM

Post #516 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Dan: Are you taking any writing courses or workshops? If so, you can
ask the workshop leader/teacher for a letter. You could also ask one
of your workshop classmates/fellow writing students. I was out of
college a long time, too. So I had two writing teachers I got to know
just the last few years and one classmate from a three- week intensive
writing workshop. Think of someone who is knowledgeable about
literature or writing and familiar with your current efforts. They
need not be famous, just credible sources. Lynda


lynda

e-mail user

Oct 25, 2000, 11:01 PM

Post #517 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Dan: I personally think that your manuscript is much more important
than who writes your letters of recommendation. But what do I know?
When it comes to deciding which program you're most interested in
attending, why not talk to some working writers or writing teachers?
Someone whose fiction I always admired recommended the WWC program to
me. You might find some writer whose work you really like and get
her/his thoughts, too. Better yet, talk to the actual students in the
various programs and ask them what they like/don't like about their
program. Keep coming back here and ask for feedback from current
students. Lynda


islander
Tamara Kaye Sellman

Oct 26, 2000, 11:10 AM

Post #518 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Good advice from everyone here, many thanks. My move toward the MFA
will be in two years, so all of this is useful in researching where I
want to go. Tamara


lynda2
Lynda 2

Oct 26, 2000, 2:56 PM

Post #519 of 2662 (16778 views)
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David-- Factoring in those elements you mentioned makes sense--I
hadn't considered this before. How long has Goddard's program been
around? ***************


lynda

e-mail user

Oct 26, 2000, 6:27 PM

Post #520 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Lynda2: There's the original Goddard (which later moved to Warren
Wilson College along with the faculty and creator) and there's the
current program at Goddard. The way it was explained to me, sometime
after the original low residency MFA program at Goddard moved to WWC,
Goddard launched another low residency MFA program. As you can see,
the history is rather complicated. So it really depends on WHICH
version of Goddard you're talking about! You can go back to the
original date of the first low residency program, or you can decide to
date back to the start of the current program. Good luck. Maybe it
would be easier if you just look at the websites for both colleges. LY



pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 26, 2000, 6:37 PM

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I suspect the current Goddard program doesn't date back much more than
ten years, since Nora Mitchell (who, as I understand it, revived the
program) was still lead faculty when I was there; we left at the same
time, she handing over the reins to Paul Selig when I graduated in
1998, although I don't think there's a causal relationship there.
Incidentally, I hear that Sarah Schulman is returning in January.
That's a good reason for a novelist to go to Goddard. dmh


lynda

e-mail user

Nov 2, 2000, 8:31 PM

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Robert and Champa and anyone else going to WWC MFA Program: In case
you're interested, I got the final list of faculty names for the
upcoming residency. Amy Grimm just e-mailed me these names for BOTH
fiction and poetry: In fiction: Wilton Barnhardt, Andrea Barrett,
Judith Grossman, Ehud Havazelet, C.J. Hribal, Margot Livesey,
Christopher McIlroy, Kevin McIlvoy, Susan Neville, Joan Silber, and
Pete. In poetry: Betty Adcock, Tom Andrews, David Baker, Stuart
Dischell, Roger Fanning, Linda Gregerson, Steve Orlen, Dan Tobin,
Ellen Bryant Voigt, Renate Wood, and Dean Young. This is a cut and
paste quote from Amy Grimm, so I assume the "Pete" referred to in the
first paragraph is Peter Turchi. Hope this information is helpful for
your advisor selection process. (Robert, this time I did get the
roster of poets for you.) Lyndane


robt
Robert Thomas

Nov 3, 2000, 11:59 AM

Post #523 of 2662 (16778 views)
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Thanks for the info, Lynda. I look forward to meeting you in January!


lynda

e-mail user

Nov 4, 2000, 1:52 PM

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You're welcome, Robert. Glad to be of help. I also look forward to
meeting you at the residency. Thanks to Amy Grimm, I made contact with
Paula Yoo (also doing the WWC MFA program, but she's in the second
semester right now) via e- mail. She helped me figure out how to get
to Asheville for the residency when coming from the West Coast. (Have
to go one day early!) Do you know her? She's in the fiction
concentration. Champa, are you there? Haven't seen any of your
postings in a while. How is your novel writing progressing? Is Wilton
Barnhardt giving you excellent direction on how to develop and
struture your novel? Question: I previously worked on a novel with one
teacher who saw it from rough draft to later stages. Now that I'm up
to 150 pages of draft, I'm worried about whether having to go
backwards, sending my MFA advisor the early chapters for review
(rather than moving ahead with new chapters). And will that slow down
my progress on new chapters? Will it stop the forward motion? The new
work? I also wonder how one can work with an advisor on a
novel-in-progress for six months, then switch to another advisor who
hasn't read any of the earlier chapters submitted to the first
advisor. It is a question of *momentum and forward motion*, not of
getting feedback on earlier work. My guess is that each time I start a
new term, the new advisor will probably want to start from the
beginning and read the first fifty pages or seventy five to get a feel
for what it's all about. Has anyone here dealt with this problem in
switching teachers on a long term project? How does one get around
rehashing and re-critiquing the early portions of a long work and keep
moving forward? Lynda


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Nov 4, 2000, 3:29 PM

Post #525 of 2662 (16778 views)
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I worked with three advisors on a novel. Each new advisor will have to
read the whole work. There just isn't any way around that. But so
what? These people are used to reading quickly, and it will take a day
or two. Unless there's a serious problem no advisor is going to make
you take your whole novel apart when you need to be fixing it; very
few advisors are insanely sadistic. dmh

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