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lynda

e-mail user

Aug 14, 2001, 1:03 PM

Post #626 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Laura, I only completed the first semester and I just started my
second semester in July. What kind of questions do you have? If it is
about the age range thing, I think everyone's experience is different.
I've made friends with middle-aged writers as well as younger ones who
just graduated from college. (One of my best friends at WWC recently
graduated from Sarah Lawrence before starting at WWC.) I don't think
it is easy to predict how people mix in a particular setting, but I
have not experienced ageism in my classes and workshops. If you have
lots of questions specific to the WWC Program, please ask me earlier
in this semester rather than later, as there's an awful lot of work I
have to do for the mid-term evaluation and the final evaluation (in
December). Things tend to go crazy by then, and I'll be hard-pressed
for time, etc. One more thing. Why not take a look first at the AWP
Guide to Writing Programs? It will give you more of an idea what each
program is like for comparison purposes. Then you can narrow down your
choices. Lynda


britwriter
Michelle Topham

Aug 15, 2001, 9:27 AM

Post #627 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Laura, from what everyone here has said to you and also from what I
have heard from other people I know who have done MFA's, the age range
doing them does indeed run the gamut. I know one person here in LA who
went straight from UCLA to do a low-res MFA (sorry, I can't remember
where she said she was going - it could have been Antioch?). She went
the low-res way because she really wanted her MFA but just couldn't
rationalize spending another two years in school when she really
needed to be making money and getting job experience. I think you'll
probably find quite a few other people in their 20s doing the same
thing.


kathygail
Kathy Whitman

Aug 15, 2001, 11:08 AM

Post #628 of 2628 (13703 views)
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It is true of Antioch. All decades from 20s to 60s are represented.
Most are clumped somewhere in the middle, or middle-young. One of the
most articulate and insightful people in my workshop last time was 28.
It's funny. Everyone I talked to in the program seemed to have some
anxiety about being the *wrong* age. (I thought I would feel too old.)
The beauty of lo-res programs is that there isn't a "norm" and no one
is labeled as a non-traditional student. The age diversity is a big
plus. You have to go when the opportunity presents itself, when the
time is ripe. Kathy


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 15, 2001, 11:56 AM

Post #629 of 2628 (13703 views)
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At Goddard, certainly, you had to go a long way to stand out as wierd.
The only one I can think of who achieved it was George, who had been
on campus for nine semesters (he also finished his BA there) and got a
single room and never spoke to anyone. (I did speak to him, and he
proved to be a Vietnam post-traumatic stress disorder case working in
hypertext, as well as a member of the straight white middle-aged
married minority.) dmh


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Aug 18, 2001, 9:19 PM

Post #630 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Hi Laura Just catching up with the posts on my favourite site at the
speakeasy. Hi Robert, Hi Lyndane! I am in my 3rd semester at WWC
(fiction) and am one of the 'older' students although I am not sure
what kind of life-experience i posess. I did feel a little nervouse
meeting a bunch of 20 something but I love my dorm-mates many of whom
are younger to me but there are also others who are older and I have
made many friends and feel very comfortable. Your age should not be a
problem. As for the required reading or academic work, I am amazed
really at the selection of books my faculty supervisors came up with
for me to read. Each of them had a direct relationship with the kind
of issues I deal with in the novel I am writing. For instance I read
The Awakening by Kate Chopin and the awakening Edna experiences has
been such a help for me to clarify some of my own thoughts about the
character in my novel. The annotations are a nuisance, no doubt about
it, but it has really taught me to approach reading as a writer and be
able to learn more efficiently. To me this is one of the most valuable
aspect of the program that I am paying for. I think many of us find
reading good writing spurs our own writing, and this is just more
guided reading and a chance to discuss what you find in depth. New
pathways have opened in my brain which by itself is quite amazing!
This is my essay semseter in which I will complete about 40 pages or
so of a mammoth annotation. I am doing it on The English Patient about
the emotional development of characters and the different techniques
used by Ondaatje. I was adviced when I was considering an MFA is to go
into it with a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. I don't
believe you can go into it with the idea that you will learn to write.
One should already be writing. I had worked on this novel for a year
before I went in and my focus is to complete a complete a draft by the
time I leave. Many people do. I am happy with the amount of writing I
have accomplished so far but then I am not currently working outside
the home. Regards, Champa


lynda

e-mail user

Aug 19, 2001, 1:25 PM

Post #631 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Hi, Champa! Glad to see you back in Speakeasy. How do you like your
Essay semester? How much of your essay have you drafted so far? I have
yet to develop all the pictures from the last Res. Will drop you an
e-mail soon. ly


armadillo
Laura Johnson

Aug 21, 2001, 5:53 AM

Post #632 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Thank you everyone for your insightful and helpful posts on the age-
range in low-res programs. I can picture the atmosphere a little more
in my mind, now.


armadillo
Laura Johnson

Aug 21, 2001, 5:59 AM

Post #633 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Champa - thank you very much for your thoughts about the WW program.
When I saw you were given The Awakening to read, I have to admit alarm
bells went off! I was assigned that as a college first-year and
thought it one of the most poorly written books I've ever read, ugh! I
can see studying it for character development... but I will have to
struggle hard not to let this tidbit of information color my
evaluation of WW! What writers have you studied with? (And which one
assigned Chopin, hee hee???) If you don't mind my asking... . I, too,
am working on a novel. My hope is to have a semblance of a draft to
enter a program with next June/July, as at that point I am quite sure
I will need the excellent critical eye of someone far more experienced
than I. Thanks! Laura


armadillo
Laura Johnson

Aug 21, 2001, 6:02 AM

Post #634 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Lynda - thanks, also. I have the same question for you as for Champa -
what writers have you studied with at WW? Are you working on a novel
with them, or a short story collection, etc... ? Thank you! Laura


armadillo
Laura Johnson

Aug 21, 2001, 6:10 AM

Post #635 of 2628 (13703 views)
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I am reading a pile of books from the library written by the faculty
of the various low-res programs. I wanted to ask if anyone has had the
experience of discovering that either: a) a faculty member whose
writing they greatly admired and found similar to their own was not
the best teacher for them or b) a faculty member whose writing they
were not so interested in and was quite far from their own, turned out
to be a fabulous teacher for them At this point, I think which program
I choose may be largely determined by what I am able to read from the
faculty in advance, and therefore by which school has the greatest
number of writers whose work I'm interested in. If anyone sees a
potential problem with that approach I would love to hear it!!! It is,
of course, impossible to tell what quality of teacher someone is from
their writing, sigh. Thank you all again for your time. -Laura


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 21, 2001, 9:50 AM

Post #636 of 2628 (13703 views)
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I signed up with Sarah Schulman without ever having read any of her
work. (I like her fiction, but don't consider it among the best being
done today. I do consider her one of the best teachers I ever had.) I
was assigned to Paul Selig, rather than choosing him (first-semester
students at Goddard are assigned to advisors), but I hadn't read
anything of his then, either. dmh


mathias
Louise Mathias
e-mail user

Aug 21, 2001, 11:22 AM

Post #637 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Laura- It's just my humble opinion, but it seems to me that the main
criteria for being a good/supportive creative writing teacher are
generousity of spirit, and being a very astute reader. And yes,
sometimes these things can exist in a person with whom you have no
parallel aesthetic with whatsoever. The best way to find out what
someone's teaching style is to try to talk to someone who's studied
with them. Beyond that, you are really stabbing in the dark. Some
writer's do have a strong bias in a certain direction though. You can
snoop around and see what sort of stuff they've (favorably) reviewed
or done book blurbs for, etc. If you see a range, that's a good sign.
My favorite teachers have always been the one's that nurtured
individual voice. They are, perhaps, a rare blessing though. Louise
_____________


pearlann
Kathy Whitman

Aug 21, 2001, 12:33 PM

Post #638 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Hey Louise-- How are you? I took your email address with me to CA when
I did my Antioch residency, but there was no free time. I thought of
you when I got lost in LA and drove by Irvine. Hope you are doing
well. Any plans to apply anywhere this fall? Kathy


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Aug 21, 2001, 2:18 PM

Post #639 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Hi Laura Glad to know Awakening got to your funny bone! I was actually
assigned many other 19th century novelists such as Balzac, Tollope,
Flaubert as well as Dos Passos, Chekhov, and although my novel is
based on early 20th century colonial India i found reading these
novels based on western cultures extremely valuable in many ways.
Firstly I did not come from a literature background, (it was finance)
and this was one thing I WAS looking for in a program, a guided
exposure to literature. Reading them as a writer opened my eyes to
what a novel is about and characterization, narrative voice, setting,
pacing, all kinds of elements. As for teachers, I was adviced by a
creative writing proff, as well as a published novelist that the best
writers do not always make the best teachers, the best readers. I
agree with Louise in this. I have flipped through some of the novels
written by the faculty, some have appealed to me very much, others
not. Let me know if I can answer any more concerns. Champa


champa
Champa Bilwakesh

Aug 21, 2001, 2:26 PM

Post #640 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Laura I also wanted to say what helped me most in deciding who I would
like to work with were a couple of things. First semester I went
blind. Second semester I chose not to ask fo r anyone and got assigned
but this sem. I knew exactly who among the faculty I wanted to work
with. You get to see the way faculty interacts and the kind of feed
backs they give, how carefully they read and how much effort they put
into it during the workshops. It might be your own work or your peer's
but this is one valuable exposure. Second you get a bio of all the
faculty and also their personal philospy/statement about their
approach to writing and teaching. You also attend their
class/lectures. You form impressions about compatability and style
from these several observations. ultimately these I think are better
guides than anything else I can think of.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 21, 2001, 5:42 PM

Post #641 of 2628 (13703 views)
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At some low-res programs each advisor gives a workshop at each
residency, and by going to those workshops you can get a good idea of
the teaching style and critical acuity. dmh


wiscokid
Robert Schwoch

Sep 4, 2001, 11:20 AM

Post #642 of 2628 (13703 views)
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--- Erased on Fri, 12 Oct 2001 15:39:50 EDT by ---


stephaniem
Stephanie Manuzak

Jan 15, 2002, 6:44 PM

Post #643 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Hello everyone -- I see that this topic hasn't been posted to in a
while, but I am looking for opinions, praises, warnings, etc. about
low-res MFAs. Any comments, from firsthand experience or reliable
secondhand, are most welcome. In particular, I'm thinking about three
programs: Vermont, Bennington, and Warren Wilson. I really like the
idea of these programs, as they seem to offer a lot in the way of
flexibility and freedom. And as a current undergraduate, it sounds
very nice to be "in the real world" while still working intensively on
your writing, rather than a college-town environment. Here are my
questions about low-res programs, and particularly the three I'm
looking at: Are 20 days a year of residency enough to give you a sense
of being involved in the program and a writing community? Do you feel
that anything is lacking by not having the classes in literature,
theory, etc. that most residential programs require, or do guided
readings and communication with your instructor make up for it?


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jan 15, 2002, 8:30 PM

Post #644 of 2628 (13703 views)
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I am still in touch with a bunch of people from Goddard, four years
after graduation, so I guess that's a community. (We also have a
reunion/conference every year.) Students also have a mailing list to
which they are subscribed, and we used it a lot when I was there. A
low-res program isn't for everyone, but if you are self-motivated
enough to do it, you can learn all that theory and literature and so
on that you would get in a residential program. You have to do a fair
amount of reading every semester (for us it was 15 books) and write
about every one of them. That's an essay a week, plus your critical
work, plus your creative work. I don't think I missed anything, except
that my marriage would have broken up three years earlier if I had
gone away for grad school. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Jan 15, 2002, 9:15 PM

Post #645 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Stephanie, If you're interested reading about Bennington, go back and
read my earlier posts in this topic. They go back a few years, but
they're still pertinent. I've posted about my experiences in both a
regular residency and a low-residency program and why I think one
actually gets more (and better) faculty interaction and "community"
from a low- residency program. I found the program at Bennington to
have a strong emphasis on literature. Hope that helps. Reb


kathygail
Kathy Whitman

Jan 19, 2002, 12:29 AM

Post #646 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Stephanie, You didn't have Antioch (Los Angeles)on your list, but I am
currently enrolled in their lo-res program and I really love it. I was
accepted to a "top 10" traditional program and I really had a hard
time making up my mind where to go. I couldn't be more sure that I
made the right decision. One of my best friends is in the program I
decided against and we often compare notes. There are pros and cons,
of course, but I feel like I got the better deal. In some ways, I
think the sense of community is stronger. It is analogous to the way
you made life long friends at summer camp. I worried about whether the
program would be lite in literature and critical theory, but it isn't.
I so appreciate the freedom from traditional course work and the
emphasis on the creative work. Just some thoughts.. Kathy


motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
e-mail user

Jan 19, 2002, 2:33 PM

Post #647 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Welcome, Kathy. Is great that you've joined in here!


kathygail
Kathy Whitman

Jan 22, 2002, 1:46 PM

Post #648 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Thanks, Dana. I have been around off and on.


britwriter
Michelle Topham

Jan 22, 2002, 2:30 PM

Post #649 of 2628 (13703 views)
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Hi Kathy, I was wondering recently how it was going for you. Glad to
know that Antioch is working out so well, and that you've obviously
made the right choice. As I've said in the past, I've heard nothing
but good things about Antioch in LA.


kathygail
Kathy Whitman

Jan 23, 2002, 12:48 PM

Post #650 of 2628 (13703 views)
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I forget, Michelle. Are you in a program or waiting to hear?

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