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elissa
Elissa Field


Jan 12, 2011, 10:36 PM

Post #2226 of 2662 (16472 views)
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Re: [evemorton] Accepted to two colleges...lol...now what? [In reply to] Can't Post

Eve, I'll just weigh in with my congratulations. Yay for you! Good luck with your choices. You may have seen it, but one of our frequent posters has been to Goddard and shared insights about his experience in some of these threads -- so, if you don't get new info, you might run a search. (Or you may already have seen all that.)

Look forward to hearing which you choose.


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


GiseleF


Jan 14, 2011, 12:30 AM

Post #2227 of 2662 (16433 views)
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Re: [susanjoy] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey everyone! First time posting here... Anyone applying for low res for summer/fall? I've been following the mfa blog and there haven't been much about low res... so I though I'd try it here. Right now I'm working on VCFA and Stonecoast (which has been kind of a pain with a complete different critical essay requirement, but oh well...)
Anyone out there???


lmorris


Jan 18, 2011, 12:22 PM

Post #2228 of 2662 (16369 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I too am applying for low-res MFA programs beginning this summer. I'm a full-time high school English teacher, so that's why the low-res programs fit with my schedule. I am looking particularly at Spalding University; I live in the Southeast, so it is close, and I also like how the summer semesters begin with a residency abroad (Tuscany this year). I have seen a few people post about Spalding, but there's not too much, and I have a few questions if anyone's willing to answer:

Has anyone graduated from Spalding's MFA program? Is its structure helpful for someone whose ultimate goal is to publish novels and/or short stories? Has anyone participated in Spalding's summer abroad residencies? I want to make sure I am not wasting my (and my husband's!) money; if it's just a fun trip with a bit of writing on the side, I'd feel like that was a waste. Also, does anyone have any idea how selective Spalding's MFA program is with their applicants? I know most low-res MFA programs don't offer statistics on their selectivity...

Even if you haven't graduated from Spalding but know someone who has, I'd appreciate any feedback!


greenpenquills


Jan 18, 2011, 12:51 PM

Post #2229 of 2662 (16360 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

So...it's been 5 weeks since I applied to my programs, and no word from any of them. I know I applied right before the holidays, but I'm sort of surprised I haven't heard from anyone yet. I guess I'm just being impatient, but I'm very anxious to start getting some responses.


GiseleF


Jan 18, 2011, 11:48 PM

Post #2230 of 2662 (16323 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Spalding looks like a great program, and I've only read pretty good things about it. I'm not applying there though, even though I kind of regret it a little bit. I can't remember why I ended up crossing off of my list. But, and I could be wrong, I think I read complaints about their online workshop throughout the semester. Apparently some people felt like it took too much time away from their own writing.
I'll try to find it again for you. But I think there's a post on the mfa blog by someone called low-res queen, where they go into details.
Hope this helps. Good luck w/ your apps.
Oh, and Tuscany sounds oh so nice!


GiseleF


Jan 18, 2011, 11:49 PM

Post #2231 of 2662 (16322 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

The waiting is rough. But hang in there. The end is near. Where did you apply?


greenpenquills


Jan 19, 2011, 2:14 AM

Post #2232 of 2662 (16313 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm hangin' in there. I applied to VCFA, Spalding, Goddard, Lesley, and Bennington. I may not hear back from Bennington in time to include them in my decision since the rest are rolling.


lmorris


Jan 19, 2011, 10:39 AM

Post #2233 of 2662 (16299 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks! I'll try to find it! I know nothing about this online program, so I'll have to find out about it.


GiseleF


Jan 19, 2011, 12:34 PM

Post #2234 of 2662 (16284 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you know how long someone has to make up their minds after offered a spot by VCFA?


greenpenquills


Jan 19, 2011, 12:37 PM

Post #2235 of 2662 (16283 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm guessing a month?


ahanridge


Jan 19, 2011, 5:14 PM

Post #2236 of 2662 (16256 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi there! I'm just responding regarding Spalding. I'm in my final semester as a fiction student with Spalding and graduate in May! YAY! Spalding does not have an online workshop and just wanted to clarify that. Not sure why you'd cross Spalding off your list, but an online workshop certainly shouldn't be a reason, since Spalding doesn't even have one. ;-) I've loved my time at Spalding, working mainly on short stories and my novel. I've also participated in cross-genre workshops in creative nonfiction and screenwriting, to augment my fiction studies. While not a requirement for fiction students, those cross-genre workshops have been great additions to my fiction work with Spalding. All Spalding students experience some cross-genre work at residencies, which is one of Spalding's assets I appreciate.

Feel free to write me with questions and I'll do my best to respond,

Warmly,

Amy in AZ


ahanridge


Jan 19, 2011, 5:30 PM

Post #2237 of 2662 (16254 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi there! I'm just responding quickly regarding Spalding's fiction program. I graduate in May! I've loved my time with Spalding. While I haven't participated in Spalding's summers abroad, my final two semesters have been with Spalding's "Spring Stretch" program where I simply attended the May residencies, but then completed the packet writing schedule over the longer 9-month term, as that schedule works better with my work and home life. If you attend a Spalding residency abroad, you will complete the longer at-home packet writing schedule as well. Also, Mary Yukari Waters will be one of the fiction faculty members in Tuscany this summer. She has been my mentor for my final two at-home semesters, and she was my first choice faculty member. She's simply amazing. Brilliant and insightful. My writing has improved in ways I never could have imagined because of Mary's counsel. Spalding's program is most definitely not some sort of light vacation devoid of rigor or inspiration to write our best work. The administrators at Spalding are simply people who strive for excellence in all areas of the program and see value in placing their strong, supportive and innovative program abroad *and* at the original campus in Louisville. I would have loved to experience what I know to be a great program but to do so in the abroad context, but couldn't swing it financially. I know some students have spent some residencies abroad and some in Louisville. I think that would be the best combination, to experience all Spalding has to offer, if one can afford it. Whether in KY or abroad, however, the program, the writing and the people are great and will, quite simply, change you and your writing. I have published short stories and won awards I never would have without the myriad skills I've learned while at Spalding. Most importantly, I've completed work I never would have even completed without the support and inspiration I've received from faculty and students while at Spalding. It was undoubtedly a worthwhile investment for me.

Hope this helps.

Warmly,

Amy in AZ


CoryLeslie


Jan 20, 2011, 3:53 AM

Post #2238 of 2662 (16195 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, there! I'm a third semester fiction student at Spalding and will graduate in 2012. I've done two summer residencies (London/Bath and Barcelona), plus one Spring Stretch residency on campus. This summer, I'll be going to Tuscany. I work full-time so the 8-month long semesters are necessary for me. This gives me 6 weeks to complete writing packets - approx 40-50 pgs of writing are due per packet with 5 turned in each semester. Depending on your semester, the packet can be a combination of short response papers, but the majority will be your creative writing.

So is the program helpful if you have the goal to publish? In my first semester I wrote a YA novel. Second semester I got an agent. Third semester I wrote my second YA novel. Both novels are currently on sub. So you can absolutely write with the goal of publication. Some students prefer to work on short stories, but collections have a slimmer chance of publication so I chose to work on novels. The faculty is flexible.

My writing has improved tremendously from when I started the program. For each packet I send, I get 4 single-spaced pages of critique from my mentor. This is invaluable to your growth. Plus, at the residency, a whole hour is spent workshopping your writing. AMAZING.

As for the summer vs. on campus semesters... I've done both now. The on-campus residency is more intensive, with more lectures and readings packed into every day. BUT the summer residencies offer unique experiences. In England, we toured Thomas Hardy country, had lunch at Corfe castle, and had Hardy read to us in a heath. We visited Shakespeare's birthplace. We saw two plays and went to Stonehenge. In Barcelona, we did a walking tour of the architecture of the city, among other things. Most of your time is spent in lectures or workshops, but they arrange these type of activities for us to sink ourselves into the local sights with a focus on the arts and not just the art of writing. This sounds really lofty, but it's an incredible experience I'll never forget. To be honest, we do a lot of homework at the residencies (summer and on campus), but not a lot of writing outside a few exercises. The writing mostly happens at home, while the residency is meant to provide lessons in craft.

This is pretty lengthy, but please let me know if you have any other questions... corrinelj at gmail dot com


khleslie
karen chronister
e-mail user

Jan 20, 2011, 9:57 AM

Post #2239 of 2662 (16176 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello, P & W! I'm new to this board, and I usually watch and read for awhile before posting. However, I had to reply to the inquiry about Spalding University's MFA program. I am just completing my first Summer Semester, which began in Buenos Aires last July. I spent a year researching, writing, and choosing an MFA program, which ended with me applying to four schools--two of which were studio and two low-residency programs. The two low-residency programs (after much comparison!) were Spalding and Vermont College. Of course, I was looking for something that would fit my personality and my goals. Prior to applying, I called each school and talked with program directors and administrators and faculty, if possible. I called or emailed former students of the different programs. I plied everyone with every question imaginable and then I waited. It's a big commitment of time, energy, money, and soul, so you should be as sure as you can be. I choose Spalding's writing program before all of my acceptances (and rejection letter from Johns Hopkins. lol!). This was an unusual move for me, because I like having everything on the table before committing, but Spalding stood out on all levels and I just knew it was the right place for me. I have never doubted for a minute that this was the best place for me to be nurtured and challenged as a writer. I'm actually surprised at the progress I've made, and that I can chalk up to my faculty mentor, Dr. Philip F. Deaver. I am sad that my semester with him is soon over, but I am thrilled with what next semester will hold. Since I work as an Language Arts teacher, the Summer Semester is golden, and I don't mind that it will take four years to complete. I believe the extra time is to my advantage.

So, let me say this, MFAer to future MFAer. Call Spalding. Talk to Karen Mann or Katy Yocum or Kathleen Driskoll. Ask them any question you can think of and then let them do their pitch. Every word is solid. No false promises. No fluffy faculty. NO EASY RESIDENCY. Yes, you will absorb the atmosphere and energy of the international location and be inspired, but this is not a vacation (and I was a little worried about that!). The international residency is grad school on wheels. You will be challenged and exhausted and totally satisfied that every drop of blood was squeezed from the turnip :)

It is amazing to find a community of writers and faculty whom I respect for their talent, hard work, and personality. I formed what I know will be lifelong friendships with other MFA students. We will graduate together in some international location and I'm excited about that. This program is a unique opportunity to work with some of the best faculty in the country and see amazing countries at the same time.

If this has not convinced you to at least call, let me tell you what sets Spalding apart from a lot of other programs. Founder Sena Nasland started with a vision to create an incredible, competitive, challenging program that would build up the writer, rather than tear him or her down. This is truly unique. I spoke with a graduate of another writing program that I applied to, and she loved telling me how they made a new MFAer cry during her workshop review. Shame on you, is what I thought. We are writers together. We should be community minded, kind and honest and helpful in our remarks. Don't mistake that for pat, fluffy remarks. I received only remarks that were helpful, insightful and, yes, critical. But the intent was to help, not harm. We are, after all, telling someone what we think about their baby. I'm honored to be apart of this community.

Karen :)
http://www.karenhublerchronister.blogspot.com/
www.karenchronister.com


lmorris


Jan 20, 2011, 10:19 AM

Post #2240 of 2662 (16167 views)
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Re: [khleslie] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Karen. That is really helpful. I've had so many Spalding people tell me what an amazing program it is. I've applied to several low-res MFA programs, but it seems to be one of the good ones, and I've done a TON of research on so many schools, so it's at the top of my list. I'm also a huge fan of Silas House and Sena Jeter Naslund, so I'm excited that they're both a part of the program! Now I just have to wait to see if I get accepted!

One last question: I read somewhere on the P&W site that no one should ever go into debt for an MFA degree. Now, I don't really see how that's possible when going to a low-res program, since they can't offer the aid that full-time residency programs can. My question--to everyone--is, is earning the MFA degree (from Spalding or anywhere) worth going into debt? My ultimate goals are to publish novels and to teach at the college level, and I want to know if an MFA degree really will help me to achieve those goals. Spalding's program (or any of them) would put my husband and me into a sizeable amount of debt, and I want to make sure I'm making a responsible decision with our money. I'm a full-time high school teacher, so unfortunately, according to FAFSA, I'm loaded (which any teacher would find laughable), and I'd be using loans to pay for 100 percent of my tuition.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jan 20, 2011, 10:21 AM

Post #2241 of 2662 (16165 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I went into debt for my low-res MFA. Was it worth it financially? I was able to give up a low-paying job to become an adjunct professor and earn even less. Was it worth it for my writing? Totally. My writing has been totally transformed by the MFA and the continuing application of what I learned.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

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khleslie
karen chronister
e-mail user

Jan 20, 2011, 10:25 AM

Post #2242 of 2662 (16164 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm going to be listening as hard as you are because I am in almost exactly the same circumstance--want to write novels and teach at a college level, now teaching at a middle school level. I made the commitment and am taking loans also. I work in a private school part-time, so FAFSA was on my side the first semester. Not sure how this year will turn out, however, I will say that I am taking only as much money as I need to cover tuition and working weird odd jobs to pay for the residencies. Still, it will be a wad of dollar bills at the end of the day. That was just my personal choice, though. It came down to not wanting to regret letting the dream slide...


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Jan 20, 2011, 11:13 AM

Post #2243 of 2662 (16155 views)
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Re: [khleslie] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, there! I have an MFA from Vermont, and like others, I went into debt for my low-residency degree. Was it worth it?

Definitely. I finished my novel while at Vermont (now on submission to agents), drafted some very solid short stories, and really developed my craft. The knowledge of the craft continues to evolve and grow event though I graduated a year ago. I think it takes time for some things to process. :)

I had great advisors and have formed a close-knit community of writers who are students, grads and members of the faculty. For me, Vermont was a wonderfully caring and nurturing environment.

As for teaching at the college level-- I graduated Jan. 2010 and started applying for college teaching jobs (adjunct, online, and part-time) in July. I received my first job offer (which I accepted) at the end of July to teach at a local community college as an adjunct. Shortly after accepting that offer, I received four more offers! Shocking in this bad economy, but I give credit to the quality of my low-res degree and the reputation of the program. I turned down those offers because I couldn't fit any of them into my schedule. Since then, I have accepted a mentoring position for a beginning novelist (pay is good for this type of work). She is familiar with low-res programs and wants a similar relationship with a mentor without the cost of tuition. I've also received two more adjunct offers but turned them down.

If you want to teach at the college level with an MFA from a low-res program, you can almost certainly find an adjunct position at a community college--either online or on ground. I prefer on ground programs because I'm isolated enough as it is. However, I will caution you that these jobs typically do not pay well. I'm making just enough from my adjunct job to cover the cost of the student loan payments with a little extra left over. It's not enough to live on, but my husband has a good full-time job, so that's fine.

Jeanne


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


karinr
Karin Rosman


Jan 20, 2011, 11:43 AM

Post #2244 of 2662 (16149 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I really appreciate these testimonies about low-res MFAs. I'm starting mine in August, and keep getting anxious about the money. But then I stumble through what I'm writing lately, and feel a certain amount of relief that I won't be doing this on my own for much longer.


GiseleF


Jan 20, 2011, 12:16 PM

Post #2245 of 2662 (16141 views)
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Re: [ahanridge] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey guys, just wanted to apologize for the mix up with Spalding and its non-existant workshops. I made my school list a while ago, and must have gotten mixed up with a different program. Spalding really sounds amazing, and I'm regretting even more having crossed it off my list. But at this point I just don't have the heart to ask my recommenders for one more letter. Who knows... if I don't get it anywhere this time around. I am definitely applying there.


ahanridge


Jan 20, 2011, 12:39 PM

Post #2246 of 2662 (16131 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I must have read some of the same advice regarding not going into debt for an MFA, so I didn't. I saved for a long while before even starting my MFA program with Spalding and when my savings for tuition ran out, I took a year away from the program to save money. I worked all sorts of odd jobs just to put money in my special MFA savings account. I kept writing while away from the program, too, which made me more focused once I returned to the program and I'm now less scared for my post-MFA life when I'll write outside the formal school structure. Then, when I returned after my first year away from the program, I returned via the Spring Stretch, and that gave me longer to write and longer to keep working those odd jobs to save. When my third semester was over and I still hadn't saved enough to pay for my entire fourth semester, I took yet another year away from the program to save. Now I'm in my fourth and final semester and will finally graduate in May, three years after some of the students I started the program with, but I'm not in debt and didn't have to end up paying extra interest. Would I be MFA-debt-free by now had I just taken the loans? Probably not, but you can decide that for yourself. Spalding also has graduate assistantship funding to defray some tuition costs while students edit for the literary journal, The Louisville Review. I'm thankful Spalding is a flexible program that allowed me to work at my own pace and take time off to save money when I needed to.

Best,

Amy in AZ


maybemd


Jan 20, 2011, 1:12 PM

Post #2247 of 2662 (16123 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

About going into debt for an MFA: It's a big commitment of not just your financial future, but also that of your family. Be certain to do a complete running of the numbers and make it clear to yourself and everyone in your household how paying that debt will affect your collective futures.

A key life skill is learning how to write a good, workable, budget. That budget can help you answer the question of whether or not to take on MFA debt, or any debt. Also consider how much risk you and your partner/spouse/S.O. are willing to stomach, and for how long, and what you could have done with that money in the future, and exactly what you are going to have to give up.

My husband and I have written budgets and lived below (not just within) our means since college. Now in our 50's, our mortgage was paid off ten years ago and we have cultivated the habit of saving and then paying for everything with cash out of that savings -- cars and other "toys", appliances, even our new heating system and the remodeling of our condo. Our budget includes setting money aside for maintenance and eventual replacement of our cars and everything in our home, plus our retirement funds.

My MFA tuition is being paid with our vacation savings, and with cash out of our retirement savings, so we owe that money back to ourselves, to that account.

Remember that there is a human cost to debt (recommended reading: Margaret Atwood’s Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. Yes, that Margaret Atwood also writes essays). Dan decided to postpone his retirement another 2-3 years in order to make up my MFA tuition. He is in Iowa today, where the temperatures dropped below zero overnight, and will be climbing on airplanes every Monday and Friday for at least another couple months. That’s his sacrifice to my writing ambitions and I can tell you that our phone calls carry a good bit of pain and longing.

As for Spalding’s delicious-sounding residencies abroad – which Warren Wilson does not offer -- when I return to Italy (or France, or NYC, or where-ever I’ll go to connect with dead master-writers and other glorious artists), I’ll be there with my husband, my beloved engineer who doesn’t really care for my stories but enjoys my reading aloud to him, and together we’ll explore how the past informs the present, to inform the future.


lmorris


Jan 20, 2011, 1:42 PM

Post #2248 of 2662 (16114 views)
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Re: [maybemd] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks to everyone for the feedback on MFA debt. My husband is extremely supportive and knows that we will both regret it if I don't try to achieve my dreams at this ideal time--when we are both in our twenties and child-free. (I have SO much respect for people with full-time jobs, children, AND an MFA load.) Debt is a risk, and for type-A planners like me, risks are scary, but as my husband told me, "Most big payoffs are the result of a big risk." So, if earning an MFA helps me to hone my writing skills and someday write a bestseller, then the debt will be worth it. If that doesn't happen, well at least I've tried, and I don't have to live with that horrible feeling of wondering what could have happened only if...Now if only I didn't have such a guilty conscience about spending so much of my husband's (and my) money on myself and my career...

By the way, I love this forum. It's so nice to get feedback from people experiencing the same conflicts and choices as I am. I've done my research on MFA programs, but a school's website is not always the most reliable source for what a program is REALLY like, and it's wonderful to learn from the experiences of others. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.


greenpenquills


Jan 24, 2011, 4:43 PM

Post #2249 of 2662 (15995 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

The program director at Vermont College called me today to tell me that I've been accepted! I'm so thrilled and it hasn't really sunk in yet. Vermont is my first choice and I will very likely be accepting the offer.

I know there are some people on the forum who attended Vermont, and if you're willing, I'd really appreciate any feedback you can give me on your experiences there. Just send me a private message.

Yay!


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Jan 24, 2011, 5:21 PM

Post #2250 of 2662 (15982 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Greenpenquills,

Just posted a response to you on the "Have You Heard" thread. Send me a PM if you'd like.

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


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

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