Feb 19, 2009, 12:02 PM
Post #848 of 2090
we should offline this soon, but to address your questions (which I think others can benefit from) I will write here.
When I got accepted, I literally was jumping up and down. No, wait, when Scott called my cell phone I was at my stupid Cubicle Farm job and ran out into the hallway with the elevator banks and was jumping up and down and screaming with excitement. I was stunned and insane and crazy and really could only handle being on the phone for 5 minutes. I could not believe that I--with my uber-shitty GRE scores and my poems that had not been published in any recognizable places (and not many places at all)--was actually one of the couple of poets they accepted out of all of those applications. I got a call on a Wednesday. I couldn't sleep. I was insane with excitement. Thursday night/Friday morning it was bugging me so much, and I didn't think it actually happened, so something like 4 AM I e-mailed Scott and asked him outright if he was playing a "sick joke" on me or if I was really accepted. He e-mailed me back and said it was all for real.
So that's my experience. So you're not alone.
Now let's see, for your questions:
The program is reasonably sized. It can seem large, in the sense that people tend to be really social and there's often stuff going on, but within each genre there are not TOO many people. Non-fiction is very small. My friends N and D are non-fictioners (N is 4th year and D, her fiance, is 3rd year). My dear friend L is a fellow first-year student and a CNFer. There is one other first-year CNFer. I am one of 2 poets first-year students (well 3, because there is one poetry master's student...), and there is only 1 poetry second-year student. This year there were 3 fiction students (including Joe Aguilar, who wrote on these boards last year) for PhD and one for master's. The typical rule of thumb is 2-3 per genre and maybe 1 accepted for master's each year.
The student community is interesting and awesome. There are a few neighborhoods where a lot of people tend to live (they're close to campus and far easier to walk/bike than drive...), but there are people who live a bit farther out. A lot is always happening, there are a good deal of social things, people tend to go to each other's readings and events and are generally supportive, and people tend to run into each other at the same coffee shops/bars/movie theaters (well there is only one independent movie theater...). The students in the creative writing program tend to really be VERY well intermingled with the lit students (in my MFA program, as contrast, there was a really big split between creative writing and lit, especially the theory crowd). I think part of that is because while it's a creative writing PhD, it is ultimately a CRW and *lit* PhD. You take lit classes. Your teaching opportunities are all writing and lit, just like everyone else. Your professionalization is just the same as everyone else. When you prepare for comps, you have your creative field as well as a scholarly field. Theory, to some extent, *must* be included.
There's a lot that I came to love, rather quickly, about this place. The campus is gorgeous. The support I have had--not only academically and creatively but also with "life" stuff--from faculty, and the way they have treated me so easily as a friend and not just a student--has made a big difference. There are a few things around here in the downtown area that remind me of my favorite neighborhoods back in Boston (good coffee shops, an amazing ice cream place, a couple of good places to hear music and grab a drink...). The independent theater here is awesome. The fact that a large part of the downtown area is pretty dedicated to independent businesses and a sort of "grassroots"-y mentality is big. The fact that this county--Boone--was the "blue" spot in the elections and that CoMo was sort of the "hub" of mid-Missouri Obama support and activity was big for me. The farmer's market is great. Rent is very inexpensive (especially having come from Boston...). The English department offers a good handful of publishing internships for class credit each year (right now I am doing an internship with the poetry series of Persea Books--the wife of the poetry editor is a professor on campus, so the editor, Gabe, telecommutes to Persea's office in NYC and now has this awesome internship...). The fact that when I came here even for this 'welcome day' visit people knew my name and were excited to talk to me--and lit professors made sure that I sat down and talked with them and they told me how psyched they were for me to come--was HUGE.
If you are accepted, you are *wanted.* Hardcore. And this town, while not Chicago (or Boston, or DC where L came from, or Pittsburgh, where a couple of people came from, or LA, or NYC, or...), is a pretty good place to be living in a rather limited income. The people are really supportive, and there is a surprisingly active literary and arts scene for a town that is smack dab in the center of the state and, really, the belly button of the country.
There's a lot I love. Of course there is more that you and I can talk about in private messages, but THIS stuff I think everyone would benefit from!