»

Subscribe | Give a Gift Subscription

Log In or Register | Help | Contact Us | Donate

Advanced Search

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs
Statement of Purpose
Edit your profilePrivate messages Search postsWho's online?
You are not signed in. Click here to sign in.
If you are not a member, Register here!
136622 registered users
First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... 14 Next page Last page  View All


Art
Arthur J. Stewart
e-mail user

Sep 4, 2006, 12:01 PM

Post #26 of 329 (6844 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Aim for a page.


__________



Sep 4, 2006, 8:13 PM

Post #27 of 329 (6826 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Man, I was looking at that the other day, and thinking how depressing it is. It's bad enough when schools ask for a favorite author list and then receive all the "correct" responses. My favorite authors, the hugely influential ones, I discovered a long time ago; last year's books feel a little random. I'm sure it's this way for most.

So how do we handle these types of questions? Just write 500 words on our faves, sit back and be judged? Tell them how we loved the new George Saunders, TC Boyle, or Peter Carey book (who teach in other programs)? Mention we're mostly reading books by MFA profs this year, and we loved their books (without sounding like an ass kisser)?

Dilemma!


six five four three two one 0 ->


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Sep 5, 2006, 5:42 AM

Post #28 of 329 (6806 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Banyon:

From my experience most statements of purpose run 1-3 pages. There are some schools that require more, but that doesn't sound like the case here.

Have you perused the website to determine if there is any mention of page length? If there isn't, I would make a phone inquiry.

Darren


Banyon


Sep 5, 2006, 9:00 AM

Post #29 of 329 (6802 views)
Shortcut
Re: [darredet] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

J Mass - I get the feeling that they just want to make sure the applicant is familiar with contemporary authors. Some younger applicants (I'm not bashing younger applicants--I'm a young one myself!) may have taken a lot of workshops and become good writers, but missed out on becoming good readers. They want to make sure you've actually read a poetry book in the past year... I'm just guessing, though. I wrote about Jorie Graham and Alice Fulton, because they are definitely my favorites... but maybe they're also kind of obvious choices? Sigh...

Darren - Purdue requires both a personal statement and a favorite authors statement. My personal statement is around 600 words, and at the moment my favorite authors statement is a little over 400... There are no word limits listed on the website, and no phone contacts listed within the english or writing department. I guess I'll play a little phone tag and figure it out!

Thanks,
Banyon


HopperFu


Sep 5, 2006, 10:14 AM

Post #30 of 329 (6797 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I wrote about Jorie Graham and Alice Fulton, because they are definitely my favorites...


I hope you're applying to Cornell, then. Alice Fulton seems quite nice (though I'm actually in Fiction, not Poetry).


Banyon


Sep 5, 2006, 1:19 PM

Post #31 of 329 (6782 views)
Shortcut
Re: [HopperFu] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
I wrote about Jorie Graham and Alice Fulton, because they are definitely my favorites...


I hope you're applying to Cornell, then. Alice Fulton seems quite nice (though I'm actually in Fiction, not Poetry).



Fiction at Cornell? I'm very jealous now:o) Sadly, I'm not applying to Cornell. It's basically my dream school, because I also want to go for a PhD in Lit, and they let a few people do the PhD and MFA at the same time... but my partner is an engineer and could never find a job in little Ithaca (I'm sure any available engineering jobs get snatched up by the Cornell engineers). Also, I might like Fulton too much to actually work with her, if that makes sense. Just meeting her would probably be a little uncomfortable, because I've read so much of her work, her interviews, and criticism about her work (I'm writing my undergrad thesis on her poetry).

-Banyon


__________



Sep 5, 2006, 3:52 PM

Post #32 of 329 (6770 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey guys. See what I mean, though? That's what I keep running into, when I think contemporary authors. I feel like people will read the statement and say, Well, if you like Author X so much, why not just apply to School X, where she teaches?

Here's another difficulty: say you love Mairy Gaitskill and are stoked about applying to Syracuse. But then your favorite writer, say maybe William T. Vollman, just beat her out for the National Book Award. If you don't catch something like that before the apps go out, it's gotta hurt...


six five four three two one 0 ->


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 5, 2006, 5:42 PM

Post #33 of 329 (6761 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Junior Maas] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Hey guys. See what I mean, though? That's what I keep running into, when I think contemporary authors. I feel like people will read the statement and say, Well, if you like Author X so much, why not just apply to School X, where she teaches?

Here's another difficulty: say you love Mairy Gaitskill and are stoked about applying to Syracuse. But then your favorite writer, say maybe William T. Vollman, just beat her out for the National Book Award. If you don't catch something like that before the apps go out, it's gotta hurt...


Interesting, I can't say that I really thought of this when I applied, because pretty much none of my favorite contemporary authors teach anywhere, except George Saunders. I guess a lot teach randomly, but none have full time positions at universities I don't think.

One would hope that these professors would be mature enough to not reject someone like they like becuase they picked a writer from a rival unviersity as their favorite or something. If you apply to a mid-large size program, presumably there are a fair number of peple on the committee anyway. Also, remember that they won't even be reading these things until you've made the cut on the writing sample.


frolicaway


Sep 6, 2006, 12:13 PM

Post #34 of 329 (6728 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Junior Maas] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yow. I'm glad I haven't been asked for a favorite authors' statement, so far.

I would probably list off some dead people, then add something evasive about my exploration of more recent writers. Probably, it would be a terrible statement.


Banyon


Sep 6, 2006, 1:58 PM

Post #35 of 329 (6715 views)
Shortcut
Re: [frolicaway] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Warning: This is off topic for the current discussion, but not off topic for the thread...

Is the statement of purpose where you mention any publishing you've done?

I'm asking because I just got a story accepted for publication at a magazine, but I'm not sure if I should mention this on my application at all. For one thing, I'm applying for an MFA in poetry, so I don't know if they give a hoot about my fiction story. Second, the story will not actually be published until February or June (I guess I could say "pending publication"?). And finally, the story is a piece of speculative fiction published in a speculative fiction magazine, but I don't know if I want to be labeled by the selection committee as a speculative fiction writer when I'm just trying to write poetry.

Maybe I should only mention it in my Michener application (where my secondary field would be fiction) and downplay the genre?

-Banyon


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 6, 2006, 5:45 PM

Post #36 of 329 (6697 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

You should put publications in your personal statement. I dont' see nay problem at all with listing a fiction publication, you don't even need to specificy ("I've had my work accepted to magazines such as Epiphany Quarterly" or whatever). Even if you list it is as fiction, there is no reason why publishing non-poetry creative work should hurt you at all. Quite the opposite.

An SF publication though? I'm not sure. I could see that prejudicing some committee members, but I really can't say for sure.


Aubrie


Sep 6, 2006, 6:17 PM

Post #37 of 329 (6689 views)
Shortcut
Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

So Tom Kealey says in his book that the personal statement/letter should organized in formal letter form. It seems to be a lot easier to write it like that, but is that really what admissions committees are looking for? A letter? I always thought it was supposed to be an essay of sorts.
Any thoughts?


bighark


Sep 6, 2006, 6:18 PM

Post #38 of 329 (6688 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Congratulations on your story's publication! That's great news.

I don't know how you plan on writing your statement of purpose, so I cannot say whether you should or shouldn't mention your publication history. Some applicants use the SOP to list past accomplishments such as publications and contests, and others decide to write about other topics. You don't have to mention your publications in the SOP if you don't want to--there are ample opportunties to note how well you've been published. Most applications provide a "Publications" section, and you can definitely include a publications list in your CV/ resume.

Also, don't worry about publication date of your accepted story. The standard note for stories/poems that have been accepted for publication at a future time is "in press." If you do a Google search for "CV 'in press'," you'll see dozens of examples how this notation is used.

Finally, should you mention a SF story in a poetry application? That's a tough one. If it were me, I'd leave any mention of SF writing out of my application, but that's just me.

Good luck


Aubrie


Sep 6, 2006, 6:20 PM

Post #39 of 329 (6687 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Aubrie] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

Also, if there are any kind souls out there who are feeling giving today, I would love to see someone else's statement (PM it to me!). I feel like I'm making a bunch of notes as to what I want to get in there, but am still having a hard time organizing it. It would be so helpful to me - the one I've seen (thanks Sibyline!) was tremendously helpful.


__________



Sep 6, 2006, 10:31 PM

Post #40 of 329 (6672 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Aubrie] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe we could seek SOP donations for some sort of MFA blog?


six five four three two one 0 ->


HopperFu


Sep 7, 2006, 7:42 AM

Post #41 of 329 (6657 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Aubrie] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey guys, I'm not sure how helpful it will be, but here is my statement of purpose from last year (obviously with the caveat that this is my work and I expect that it will not be used unethically ... and that people check things on the internet and getting busted for plagarism will ruin your chances of, well, anything). I changed it slightly depending on the school. The school that I changed it the most for - WashU - and was the most personalized (I talked specifically about why I was interested in specific profs), was the school that gave me the outright Heisman.
I have mixed feelings about sharing this. I think there was something kind of useful about writing this on my own, but I also think it is useful for other writers to see some examples. Sibyline's example - which she posted on here somewhere last year - is not similar to mine at all.
My other advice about the statement of purpose is a) answer the questions and b) remember that your chance to show your creativity is in your original work.
Not that any of it really matters that much. If they are reading your statement of purpose it is most likely because you have made it past the only really important step - your writing sample.
Anyway, here it is....



I would like to be a working, published writer, while also teaching on the college and university level. An MFA program is a unique opportunity to both improve my writing and to get the tools to become a top-notch teacher. For me, the University of XX seems like an ideal place to pursue my MFA because of the focus on studio time with an additional emphasis on literature classes, and the academically rigorous nature of the program. Another draw is the strong training for teaching provided by the program and the practical experience of designing and teaching my own course as a second year student.
My main aspiration is to be a published, working fiction writer, and it is clear to me that I need training and input from others to take my writing from very good to excellent. I learned a great deal as a scholarship student at the Squaw Valley, Napa Valley, and Ropewalk conferences, but I believe that I will gain even more from the extended, intense format of an MFA program. I think the biggest benefits of an MFA program are the opportunity to work with and be critiqued by professors and other writers over an extended period, and the chance to develop lasting relationships with some of these people as trusted readers. I also believe that the intense immersion in literature and criticism that is part of the academic side of an MFA program will train me to be a better reader and writer.
Though my main goal is to be a published, working writer, I also would like to teach writing and literature. I have taken great pleasure from the edifying moment when I have been in teaching situations in the past (helping other writers improve their work, supervising interns as a journalist, and teaching rock climbing). Ultimately, I want to emulate my favorite teachers, by being the kind of teacher who can push students and inspire them to strive for their potential. Attending an elite MFA program that combines a rigorous academic regime with the practical experience of a teaching assistantship will give me the opportunity to learn how to be a superior teacher.
The MFA Program in Creative Writing at University of XX has a strong balance of workshops and academically rigorous literature classes. This balance will help me address both my career goals of writing, and of teaching. Your workshops will help me to articulate my aesthetics and speed up the slower, unconscious work that goes into being a writer. They will also give me the opportunity to become a better critic of my own writing and to learn new things about my work that I cannot see on my own; many times it takes insights from someone else to help you see past blind spots.
The academically rigorous nature of The MFA Program in Creative Writing, and the program’s integral connection to the English Department are also appealing, since my proficiency as a teacher can only be improved by expanding my proficiency as a reader and critic. The literature classes will also provide me with more tools for writing, giving me the opportunity to approach texts as both a fiction writer and an academic.
Pursuing an MFA is the best way for me to improve my fiction and to prepare for a career as a writer and teacher. The University of XX's MFA Program in Creative Writing is a good match for me because of its balance of workshops and academically rigorous literature classes. Likewise, I also think that I am a good match for your program. I have a strong sense of who I am as a writer and where I want to go, but I am open to changes that will improve my work. I am willing to take risks in my writing, and I am committed to becoming the best writer that I can be. I would welcome the opportunity to become an active contributor to the University of XX MFA Program in Creative Writing.


Aubrie


Sep 7, 2006, 11:13 AM

Post #42 of 329 (6640 views)
Shortcut
Re: [HopperFu] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks HopperFu - you rock. I just really needed to see how everyone organized their thoughts. I think I'm overthinking the whole thing.
Your essay is very straightforward, to the point. I think I need to slash and burn a little in mine.
Thanks again for helping me out (and I'm sure others. . .)

p.s. - I want an update about school? Sibyline's been MIA - what are you two up to?
Is it snowing yet?!? :)~


HopperFu


Sep 7, 2006, 1:14 PM

Post #43 of 329 (6629 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Aubrie] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm glad it is somewhat helpful.
School is good. Busy, though. I'm trying to write as much as possible (that's why we're here, right?), but I've also got to juggle classes, homework, and working at the literary magazine. It's certainly not digging ditches, but it's busy. I love it here, though.
No, it hasn't started snowing in Ithaca, yet, though it's gotten down to the 50s at night a few times (it's beautiful during the day, though).


Aubrie


Sep 7, 2006, 3:05 PM

Post #44 of 329 (6613 views)
Shortcut
Re: [HopperFu] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

My sister went to Ithaca College and I never stopped hearing the complaints about the snow and the cold (and we're from NJ, not Florida or Cali or something). Just giving you a hard time. :)
Good to hear that things are well and that you're busy!


* Did anyone give a thought to the Kealey/letter thing?
I'm sticking to essay format. The letter seems weird to me.


HopperFu


Sep 7, 2006, 3:25 PM

Post #45 of 329 (6609 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Aubrie] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
* Did anyone give a thought to the Kealey/letter thing?
I'm sticking to essay format. The letter seems weird to me.


I'm not even sure what Kealey means by a formal letter format.
My basic thought on the personal statement is that your number one goal should be to, essentially, not be weird. Unless you have some triumphantly amazing thing to say about yourself and why you want to go to the program (and trust me, you don't, no matter how cool you think you are), you should be fairly carefull in your statement. That is not the same thing as being dull or dumb. Rather, you should try to let your fiction speak for itself. If you want to study at a certain program because you like the fact that they let you do cross-genre work, great, mention it. If you want to study somewhere because the town has an awesome history of streaking.... (you'd be so surprised at what people think is okay to put on applications and cover letters).
Remember that this is, in a lot of ways, like applying for a job. Be professional.
That being said, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. Sibyline's letter that she posted last year somewhere, if I remember right, was NOTHING like mine. Which is fair, 'cause in real life she's quite pretty and I'm a bit of a toad.


__________



Sep 7, 2006, 5:25 PM

Post #46 of 329 (6595 views)
Shortcut
Re: [HopperFu] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey HopperFu:

Thanks for sharing! Counting sibyline's SOP, that's 50% of Cornell's entering class right there, correct?

I remember sibyline outlined her creative work much more extensively. It gave me the impression she was not only very dedicated, but had a clear and reachable plan, as opposed to harboring some vague aspirations of "being a writer" I'm sure a lot of people mention.

I recall that, at least in tone, sibyline's statement was like yours. I noticed, as you said, you both keep the whiz-bang stuff for your stories and maintain a polite, professional tone throughout. The emphasis is on how a school could help you guys, rather than some b.s. posturing about how they'd be lucky to have you. (Shamefully, I admit that tactic crossed my mind at one point.)

This is all very helpful, so thanks. I hope you guys don't mind if I channel the spirit of your statements.


six five four three two one 0 ->


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 7, 2006, 5:52 PM

Post #47 of 329 (6588 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Junior Maas] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

It is definitly interesting to read these personal statements. Mine was very different from HopperFu's, it was much more personal giving a kind of history of my writing and what led me to want to get an MFA. It was also more informal, though it was still in a "polite professional tone" as you say. I also did, as you say, emphasize how the program could help ME not how I could help THEM.

I certainliy agree with Hopperfu that that is important and that you shouldn't try to do some wacky or flashy thing. I kind of wonder if I didn't go a little to much in the crafted direction myself, but I guess it worked somewhat...


HopperFu


Sep 7, 2006, 6:06 PM

Post #48 of 329 (6584 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Clench Million] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I also did, as you say, emphasize how the program could help ME not how I could help THEM.



God, yeah. I'd be really surprised if programs were looking for prima donnas. And given the number of people who apply to most programs (acceptance rates run between about 0.5% and 10%), why would they pick you if you're coming in with an attitude?


wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Sep 7, 2006, 8:32 PM

Post #49 of 329 (6568 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow! Alice Fulton is my muse! But I've rarely ever--even on the women's poetry list--found even one die-hard fan. I'm so glad she has other readers ;-). I've met so many serious readers of contemporary poetry that haven't even heard of her. Alice rocks---and she's certainly been generous in my few interactions with her. I'm so jealous!!!!


sibyline


Sep 8, 2006, 6:05 PM

Post #50 of 329 (6517 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Aubrie] Personal Statement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
p.s. - I want an update about school? Sibyline's been MIA - what are you two up to?
Is it snowing yet?!? :)~


yeah, i don't have internet at home so i can only pop in every so often. i spent today revising the new story i workshopped last week, and looking over hopperfu's story for next week. i'm his "official critic" you see, so i'm required to give him a hard time. :) i also babysit for him on wednesdays and am supposed to take his headshot once he gets over his inferiority complex and embraces his zoolander side. i'm much more reachable over e-mail aubrie; i'm in touch with other MIA's like gussy and franz that way.

as for the SOP thing, i think tom posted his stegner statement and it's definitely pretty informal. i found it refreshing, but i can imagine that he can more easily get away with it because he already had a record and a reputation when he appliled. the fact that hopperfu and i got in the same program with really different statements i think kinda means that they're not anywhere near as important as the sample, so i wouldn't stress out too much about it. i would just stay away from the "i wanted to be a writer since i was 6" kinda deals.

bighark, did you ever get me that revised story? i think i missed it...

First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... 14 Next page Last page  View All

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs

 


P&W Newsletters

Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter to stay informed of the latest news, events and more.

Click to Sign Up

Subscribe to P&W Magazine | Donate Now | Advertise | Sign up for E-Newsletter | About Us | Contact Us

© Copyright Poets & Writers 2011. All Rights Reserved