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gblackwe

e-mail user

Dec 31, 2008, 2:42 PM

Post #1851 of 2628 (15304 views)
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Re: [havana5am] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't regard myself as typical of the average Warren Wilson student, but neither do I regard any of my peers as such. Mercifully, there is no type typical of each semester's incoming students, else I might not have been among them. I would simply echo what Amethyst has written above-- your best work, no matter what that work is (and damn genre considerations; WW seems very open to anything, provided it is well-written).

That being said, I recently had the piece that served as my manuscript, "The Behavior of Pidgeons" published at Conjunctions (in a very slightly edited form). It was the web feature for 12/3 (if you scroll down the "Web Conjunctions" page, you'll find it next to that date). Take it as you will.

Good luck to you.


havana5am



Dec 31, 2008, 3:30 PM

Post #1852 of 2628 (15297 views)
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Re: [gblackwe] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, Gabriel! Love it. Very helpful. Thanks.

I forgot to ask, are you a current student? Have you had the chance to work with Michael Martone? I'd love to work with him if accepted.


"Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank - but that's not the same thing." -- Joseph Conrad

(This post was edited by havana5am on Dec 31, 2008, 3:33 PM)


gblackwe

e-mail user

Dec 31, 2008, 4:10 PM

Post #1853 of 2628 (15289 views)
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Re: [havana5am] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I will be graduating at the coming January residency. And, yes, fortunately, I was able to work with Michael-- an extraordinary experience, I can assure you. He is very generous and very thoughtful, as you have no doubt heard, and also incredibly sharp. But then everyone that I have worked with has been very sharp and very open to new things, including Pete Turchi, the (rather unfortunately) outgoing director, and Kevin McIlvoy, the interim director until Debra Allbery takes over (I think at the Summer 2009 residency). WW is a very inclusive community of writers (even if the odd "experimental" or "postmodern" writer is sometimes just that-- odd), and lives up to its fantastic reputation.


havana5am



Dec 31, 2008, 11:12 PM

Post #1854 of 2628 (15250 views)
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Re: [gblackwe] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the info. Too bad about Peter Turchi, I've heard great things about him. And congrats! What are your plans after graduation? I'm just now starting to do applications, essays, and reworking the writing sample.


"Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank - but that's not the same thing." -- Joseph Conrad


PrivateI


Feb 1, 2009, 12:52 AM

Post #1855 of 2628 (15081 views)
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Re: Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm interested in finding a mentorship-style low-residency program for nonfiction. I will probably aim to write with an eye toward publication in magazines and books, as I have a background in journalism, though I am open to working with anyone who will expand my mind and show me new directions to explore. Topics I'd write about run the gamut. Does anyone have recommendations about what schools would be good to apply to?


lapwing


Feb 1, 2009, 2:45 PM

Post #1856 of 2628 (15025 views)
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Re: [PrivateI] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

PrivateI, You might look at Goucher, Pacific Lutheran, and Bennington, for starters.

Goucher focuses on creative nonfiction exclusively, and it tends to have a strong narrative nonfiction/literary journalism bent. Pacific Lutheran has a very, very talented faculty, with folks who have written craft books or edited well-known anthologies or are simply great writers of literary nonfiction, people such as Brenda Miller, Rebecca McClanahan, Judith Kitchen, and Lia Purpura. Actually, it boggles the mind that PLU has all of these writers teaching together in one program. And Bennington has some celebrated personal essayists on its faculty, such as Philip Lopate.

Good luck in your search. There are many other programs, of course . . .


Sibella
Pam, that is.


Feb 1, 2009, 6:31 PM

Post #1857 of 2628 (14986 views)
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Re: [gblackwe] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder whether the changing directorship at WW will affect who's accepted.

I attended a lecture by McIlvoy at the winter residency (I went down there to check out the public lectures in an effort to get more info on whether I wanted to apply); while I liked it a great deal, his approach seemed very different from my own. (Now the Dobyns and McHugh lectures later in the week--way more to my taste.)

Now I'm in the process of applying (because I was tired of dithering about it for over a year), and I wonder how much say he'll have, if any, in assessing my work.

I think I'm just inventing new things to be neurotic about.

For what it's worth: I've approached four people for reference letters, figuring that the WW people would read the first two and I'd have some hedge against one of my reference people flaking out. One of them has already faxed his letter. I'm revising my poetry and trying to figure out what poem to write about for the critical essay. The deadline is March 1. I don't know whether I'm typical of anything, but I figured other people in the same process might like to know what others are doing.

God almighty, pursuing an MFA is a tough decision. Right now, I can't even bring myself to apply anywhere else, because I'm so sold on Wilson. If I get rejected, I guess I can pull myself together to apply to more places for the next go-round. But it's hard for me to even justify to myself why the hell I want to do this.

I've gotten lots of information. I've talked to at least four former and current students. I've read all the WW posts (and others) on this board going back to about 2000. I've done lots of explaining to myself and others, to clarify my thoughts. But what it comes down to, largely, is a gut feeling.

Good luck to all of you in my boat. I feel your pain. :^)


PrivateI


Feb 3, 2009, 4:48 AM

Post #1858 of 2628 (14920 views)
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Re: [lapwing] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Lapwing, thanks for your very helpful response. If you have any more suggestions, I'm all ears. :-) It's great to be able to narrow down the overwhelmingly long list of low-res programs.


havana5am



Feb 3, 2009, 10:48 AM

Post #1859 of 2628 (14884 views)
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Re: [Sibella] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm applying for fiction. I was also bummed that Peter Turchi will no longer be director. Thanks for sharing your concerns. It helps to know that there are others going through the same thing. Good luck.


"Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank - but that's not the same thing." -- Joseph Conrad


Joe A. I.


Feb 3, 2009, 10:57 AM

Post #1860 of 2628 (14873 views)
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Re: [havana5am] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

A question for former applicants: How long do low-res programs usually take to notify? In addition to a number of residency programs, I am also applying to three low-res programs (Pacific, Bennington and Warren Wilson), with a deadline of March 1. My concern is that, if April 15 comes along and I still haven't heard back from the low-res programs, I won't be able to make an informed choice about the regular residency programs.


lapwing


Feb 3, 2009, 10:58 AM

Post #1861 of 2628 (14872 views)
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Re: [PrivateI] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

PrivateI, This may simply make your list unmanageably large, but here are a few other programs that appeal to me, at least:

Ashland has an interesting creative nonfiction/poetry focus, with faculty such as Robert Root, who's written a couple of craft books. I think of Vermont College being kind of cutting-edge in terms of memoir, I guess because of Sue William Silverman (brutally honest) and Larry Sutin (formally experimental). And Spalding has creative nonfiction teachers who are working writers in their other lives, as opposed to college professors employed elsewhere; so that might be good if you're a student who's interested in magazine feature writing (and the program also has a number of innovations that show how deeply the braintrust behind it has thought about what students might need). All of these are mentorship programs. Some other programs are Stonecoast, Pacific, and Lesley. Queens is a well-designed program with great faculty, although it's not a mentorship program. Similarly, UBC has some very accomplished working journalists as teachers and a peer-to-peer workshop rather than mentorship model.

best,
Lapwing


Sibella
Pam, that is.


Feb 3, 2009, 11:11 AM

Post #1862 of 2628 (14863 views)
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Re: [Joe A. I.] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Having recently looked at years' worth of posts here, I've determined that Warren Wilson seems to be one of the later ones to inform people--it might not be until after April 15. It seems to be around mid-April, though.

Good luck! Let's cross our fingers for each other.


PrivateI


Feb 3, 2009, 7:24 PM

Post #1863 of 2628 (14803 views)
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low-res "critical essay" [In reply to] Can't Post

Many of the low-res CNF programs are asking for a critical essay responding to a work of literature. I was not an English major in college and have no idea what this is or how to do it. Help?!


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Feb 3, 2009, 8:19 PM

Post #1864 of 2628 (14781 views)
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Re: [PrivateI] low-res "critical essay" [In reply to] Can't Post

It's pretty much what it sounds like. Respond to a piece of writing that is interesting or important to you. Try to respond to it as a writer, not as a casual reader. You're not going to be interested so much in what the work says, but in how it says it, and what it may mean below the surface (and how it says that). How it fits into a context is a workable approach, too.

Read a few critical essays to warm up to the task. The best of the reviews from The New Yorker or The New York Times will pass as critical essays.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


PrivateI


Feb 6, 2009, 7:45 PM

Post #1865 of 2628 (14663 views)
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Re: [pongo] low-res "critical essay" [In reply to] Can't Post

Pongo, thanks for your help. Do you have any specific examples you could link me to? The most recent books I've read are "Culture Jam" by Kalle Lasn (founder of Ad Busters) which is an anti-consumerist manifesto, and "Crossing Into Medicine Country" by David Carson, which is a well-written memoir about his apprenticeship with a shaman (like Carlos Castaneda but way better).


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Feb 6, 2009, 10:46 PM

Post #1866 of 2628 (14625 views)
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Re: [PrivateI] low-res "critical essay" [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's the first one I found: [url]http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081222/collini?rel=hp_picks[/url] It's an essay by Stefan Collini on a collection of Lionel Trilling's essays, a little recursive but a fair example of the genre. You can kick around the Nation site for other reviews for other examples.

Here's one from the NY Times: [url]http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/books/05masl.html?ref=books[/url] This one is a review by Janet Maslin of a biography of Clarence King. Again, there are other examples on the site.

Now, both of these summarize the texts a bit more than you need to, since they are reviews rather than pure academic essays, but they are also responses to the texts and guides to how to think about them.

For your application, I would pick a shorter text, an article or story or individual poem, and start asking yourself questions about it: Why is it important to me? How does it make itself important? How important is the context of when I read it or when it was written? Be like a five-year-old and keep asking questions. Then answer them in the essay.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Roxaboxen2


Feb 12, 2009, 9:03 AM

Post #1867 of 2628 (14536 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Jeanne,

So I suppose you're in your third semester at Vermont now? I was accepted about a week ago. After a very disappointing experience at another low-res program last summer (I ended up withdrawing), I set out to find where the "best" places were to apply. The consensus seemed to be Bennington, Vermont, and WW.

I ended up throwing Bennington and WW out of the pot despite cheaper tuition and and WW's prestige factor because I felt Vermont was the only one that offered the flexibility and openess I desire. I was also hooked from the first time I got in touch with the school -- they were overwhelmingly helpful in connecting me with both alumni and faculty, and I felt that everything meshed throughout the numerous e-mails and phone calls.

However I'm still waiting to hear back from two schools I applied to on a whim -- Lesley and Antioch. Lesley has an intriguing interdisciplinary component, and Antioch is compelling for its social justice theme as well as its Atlantic Monthly ranking.

Sorry, this background information got lengthy. I am mostly just curious to get additional general feedback from a current student before I mail my deposit! Also, have you been to the Slovenia residency? It's intriguing but I've not seen much information about it. And scholarships. I have been told that I should hear back in a few weeks, and my understanding is that students are re-evaluated for small scholarships on a semester basis -- have you seen this to be the case? I'm not in desperate financial need; but given the reputed rigorousness of the workload and my earnest interest in becoming a full-time writer, I'd love the opportunity to ravage my savings and leave my blood-sucking job behind for a while. I understand that Vermont scholarships are small, but every little bit helps!

Also, anyone with insight into Lesley or Antioch, that'd be appreciated as well!


Joe A. I.


Feb 12, 2009, 9:56 AM

Post #1868 of 2628 (14519 views)
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Re: [Roxaboxen2] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Roxaboxen2,

I have to ask. Can you tell us at which school you had this horrible experience, and why?


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Feb 12, 2009, 10:06 AM

Post #1869 of 2628 (14513 views)
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Re: [Roxaboxen2] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi,

Yep, I'm deep into my 3rd semester now. I'm working on my crit. thesis--The Seduction of Evil-- as we speak. I'm writing about the appeal of the really evil protagonist--the rapist, the serial killer, the pedophile. It's uh, a *tough* topic.

As far as I know, the scholarships are limited for Vermont. They are offering a new paid fellowship for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd semesters this year, I think. It's a position that is sort of an Internet/PR liason for their various arts programs. I thought about applying (could definitely use the financial break), but I suspect the deadline has slipped by while I dug through my thesis work.

I've never gone to Slovenia (not enough moola here, as we have three people in college at the same time), but those who have say it's wonderful. It's a more relaxed residency in some ways than the Montpelier one because you are given the opportunity to explore some of the historical/cultural sites in the area. And the food is supposed to be fabulous (not so much so at Montpelier). The group in Slovenia is usually very small, so they all meet in an interdisciplinary workshop. I think it would be a great way for fiction writers to learn more about poetry and poets to learn more about fiction, etc. However, they are also offering mixed genre workshops at the residency in Vermont now, too. Last residency, you had the option of participating in a workshop composed of fiction and CNF. I understand the discussions were quite energetic as people explored the demarcation point between fiction and CNF.

Melissa and Louise are terrific, aren't they? They will do anything, it seems, to help you get the most from the program. Oh, we had a new presentation workshop (conducted by James Nave) that was outstanding. It was all about how to read your work in public, and Nave was amazing. We've also had several small informal talks with some of our visiting writers. Last residency, I was in a session with Rosellen Brown, who was fascinating.

I can honestly say that the VCFA program has changed my life and my approach to my writing. I am a *thinking* writer now, very aware of my relationship with the reader and with the text. Last semester, I worked with Diane Lefer, and I finished a solid draft of my novel. It was a race to the finish line, but we did it, and I felt great about what I produced. This semester, I will be writing my crit. thesis (working with a different advisor) and writing a few short stories. I've already written one flash (totally new for me) that evolved from a writing exercise. That's going out on sub in a week or so. Next semester--my 4th--I will go back to the novel for a final polish to prepare it as my creative thesis. Then, it's off to query agents. Can you tell I'm excited about the future??

Oh, if you decide to go to Vermont, there is a large community of us on FaceBook. Just put my name in as a "friend," and that will link you to a whole bunch of us who are out there, both current and former students, and a few faculty members.

Good luck to you and congrats on your acceptance to Vermont!

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


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


Roxaboxen2


Feb 12, 2009, 2:45 PM

Post #1870 of 2628 (14460 views)
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Re: [Joe A. I.] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi there, Joe. I certainly wasn't going to volunteer, but I’ll oblige. I was at Fairleigh-Dickinson; I applied because I liked their faculty's work and I wanted to visit England, where they have a winter residency. I enrolled because I didn’t get into any resident programs in England, and the U.S. resident program that accepted me seemed more like financial suicide than a viable education path once all the cards were on the table. At the time, all I really understood about MFA’s was to be sure you liked the faculty’s work and the location.

DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to dissuade anyone from looking into the program or applying. I had a poor experience, to be sure, though I went with an open mind. Still, in the interest of impartiality, I’ll mention that I recently stumbled across a blog post by a student who had left Antioch and felt more satisfied with FDU. When I went about researching schools for a second round of applications, I was sure that the former school was of much higher caliber; but clearly someone else perceives the comparison differently. I suppose that choosing an MFA should be almost entirely about personal “fit,” not an empirical rubric.

Anyway, about my residency. The FDU facilities staff took three hours to find me a key that actually worked for my assigned room. I did not feel any more welcome when I arrived at the opening dinner, due to a clique factor that pervaded most of the faculty and some of the returning students.

I tried to get excited for the first few lectures, but I learned little aside from laundry lists of the faculty’s own accomplishments. I tried to keep a positive attitude, and told myself that I was just unusually blessed in my undergraduate education. Then I ducked out of a workshop to use the ladies’ room and ran into an FDU student in her second year. As we washed our hands, she wrinkled her nose and said, “So, do you think we’re learning anything from these sessions? I’m not sure about this.”

I diverted all my hopes to the small-group workshops. No luck. I found one faculty member condescending, and was further appalled when this person joked that they’d become a teacher because it was all they were fit to do! Another was very kind and earnest, but too timid to deliver any real criticism. I reminded myself of Goldie Locks wandering through the Three Bears’ house.

The last straw was the one-on-one meeting with faculty. I watched students shuffle out after only five or ten minutes of the allotted thirty! During my own, I tried to chat about my serious career goals, and was then informed: “You should write essays, not poems. What you’re trying to do goes against the nature of the art. Maybe you should go to journalism school.” I consider this to be narrow-mindedness. Adrienne Rich or Tory Dent, anyone? (This would be why I’m interested in Antioch specifically; I know that my interests would be embraced, as they are directly aligned with the “social justice” element of their program.

My suitemate, who I’d thought was an ice queen, found me sitting by my luggage on the seventh day of the ten-day residency. She asked me if I was leaving, and I said yes. She sighed and said she was sorry that she hadn’t been nicer. But she was entering her thesis semester and found herself looking back to think that she wished she’d saved her money, and didn’t really know how to chat without discouraging me. She also told me that another student had simply dropped out halfway through their degree due to a similar level of disappointment.

All that said, I’m sure some people out there have enjoyed FDU. I went directly after graduating from a small liberal arts school, where I was used to professors who are highly invested in their students and interested in plenty of individual bonding. That might not be for everyone, and perhaps I was just not the right personality to bond with the faculty at FDU.


(This post was edited by Roxaboxen2 on Feb 12, 2009, 2:46 PM)


Roxaboxen2


Feb 12, 2009, 3:02 PM

Post #1871 of 2628 (14450 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

 Thanks Jeanne for the detailed response . . . and wow at that critical thesis topic!
I’m excited to hear the positive feedback on the interdisciplinary workshops. I’ll be studying both fiction and poetry, and have a particular interest in how one genre can inform the writing of another.
Leslie Ullman chatted with me about the presentation workshop just prior to the residency, I’m glad to hear it was so well-received! And yes, she and Melissa and Louise were all overwhelmingly helpful throughout my application process. It seems to be exactly the kind of community I’ve been hoping to join.
I’ll most likely seek you out again on facebook . . . until then, best of luck to you as you continue to work and excel in the program!
Regards,
Kim


Joe A. I.


Feb 12, 2009, 4:14 PM

Post #1872 of 2628 (14421 views)
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Re: [Roxaboxen2] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Roxaboxen2,

Thanks for your detailed response. Sounds like a real nightmare. I was curious whether it was one of the schools I'm applying to, which, thankfully, it's not. I hope you have a better experience wherever you end up!


Roxaboxen2


Feb 12, 2009, 4:32 PM

Post #1873 of 2628 (14410 views)
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Re: [Joe A. I.] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Good luck with your application / admissions process! Looking back at my posting on my first, failed experience, I didn't stress what I'd deem the most important thing I've learned over the past year: CONVERSE WITH THE PROGRAM. I'd encourage everyone to call or e-mail at some point before choosing where to enroll, and have thorough discussions with a variety of sources: administrators, faculty, alumni, and current students as available. Try to feel out whether you have any sense of rapport, as these are the people with whom you'll be working and studying for some time. A lot of programs' impressive faculty rosters might seem perfect on paper or the world-wide-web. Yet I'm increasingly confident that attention to more subtle details and dynamics will make all the difference for me this time around.


havana5am



Feb 14, 2009, 1:30 PM

Post #1874 of 2628 (14325 views)
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Applying late [In reply to] Can't Post

It looks like I'll be submitting my applications at the last minute. Does anyone know if this will hurt my chances of acceptance?


"Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank - but that's not the same thing." -- Joseph Conrad


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Feb 14, 2009, 1:33 PM

Post #1875 of 2628 (14323 views)
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Re: [havana5am] Applying late [In reply to] Can't Post

Some of the low-res programs have rolling acceptances, and the "last minute" is sort of irrelevant in those cases. If you're late for one residency, they just accept you for the next. I had one roommate who had been accepted a few days before the residency.

Otherwise, I think most schools understand that a deadline is a deadline; on one side of it you're all right, on the other side you're dead. But it doesn't matter where you are on the good side.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/

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