»

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!
135857 registered users
First page Previous page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... 14 Next page Last page  View All


Banyon


Oct 29, 2006, 1:12 PM

Post #76 of 329 (6761 views)
Shortcut
To name drop or not to name drop [In reply to] Can't Post

In my SOP, should I mention specific writers at the school I'm applying to or not? I want a definitive answer on this. Something tells me I won't get one:o) For people who are currently at a school--did you mention specific writers from your school in your SOP? I think HopperFu and Sybiline said no. Anyone else?

-Banyon


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 29, 2006, 3:47 PM

Post #77 of 329 (6754 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Banyon] To name drop or not to name drop [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't. I get the impression that most schools aren't impressed by blatant sucking-up, even if that isn't how you intend it.

dmh


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/


wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Oct 29, 2006, 3:58 PM

Post #78 of 329 (6748 views)
Shortcut
Re: [pongo] To name drop or not to name drop [In reply to] Can't Post

But isn't it possible to mention names without sucking up? This all seems like such a poker game where no one's willing to show their cards, no one's supposed to ask questions or investigate until after they're accepted, but we're supposed to plonk down a thousand bucks applying to ten or twelve places? This mfa thing is surely turning into a big racket.


sovietsleepover


Oct 29, 2006, 8:21 PM

Post #79 of 329 (6720 views)
Shortcut
Re: [wilmabluekitty] To name drop or not to name drop [In reply to] Can't Post

If you're applying because one particular writer's work or approach is a large part of your attraction to the school then I'd say YES, say so, and say who. If you're applying to the school for other reasons, but will be happy to work with the writers there, don't mention the writers there.


laughingman


Oct 31, 2006, 1:50 PM

Post #80 of 329 (6674 views)
Shortcut
Spacing? [In reply to] Can't Post

Should the statement of purpose be single-spaced or double? When I submit stories, I always doublespace them, of course. But when I write letters, I always single space them. I single-spaced my as SoPs last year, was this a mistake? A page and a half of single space is a totally different creature than a page and a half of double space...

-laugher


sibyline


Oct 31, 2006, 1:55 PM

Post #81 of 329 (6681 views)
Shortcut
Re: [laughingman] Spacing? [In reply to] Can't Post

single-spaced mine with line breaks between paragraphs.


muttonfish


Nov 6, 2006, 11:03 AM

Post #82 of 329 (6605 views)
Shortcut
Method of Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

The Statement has provided me with more aggravation than anything else. I wrote it once and subsequently submitted it to a former professor for review. He did not like it. So I reviewed this thread and re-tailored the statement in light of the the advice/examples. I also looked at some of the info on the MFA blog. I thought it was much improved. Professor didn't like it, again. Here is my question, this guy just received his PhD in Victorian Literature. He is a scholarly journal/dissertation man through and through. Is it possible that he is not the best person for advice? Looking at the one Hopper attached, as well as Kealey's, I am almost certain that this guy wouldn't care for those either. I'm venting my frustrations, I know. I just feel like he is critiquing this thing with his own background in mind and less from the mind of the creative writer/MFA. Thanks for listening.


plumagemour


Nov 6, 2006, 11:40 AM

Post #83 of 329 (6587 views)
Shortcut
Re: [muttonfish] Method of Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

is hopper's sop in this thread? i wasn't able to find it.

also my messages don't seem to be working so i never got a chance to say thanks for mailing me your statement, darren.


Glinda Bamboo


Nov 6, 2006, 12:46 PM

Post #84 of 329 (6569 views)
Shortcut
Re: [muttonfish] Method of Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

muttonfish,

I say find another person to review your statement. Sounds like you need a second opinion. Since it's a personal statement, not everyone is going to agree with you on the "right" way to do it. As long as you look at it objectively and take some friendly hints (like you already have, from these forums and Kealey's book), I wouldn't put a lot of weight into one professor's preferences.


laughingman


Nov 6, 2006, 2:10 PM

Post #85 of 329 (6559 views)
Shortcut
Re: [muttonfish] Method of Statement [In reply to] Can't Post

Muttonfish,

I've read a few statements of purpose for lit majors applying to M.A. and Ph.D. programs in the last year, and my feeling is that for literature track applicants the statement of purpose is less a statement of purpose... and more of a supplementary writing sample; not so much a chance to talk about what you'd like to do, as a chance to demonstrate your impressive writing abilities for a second or third time.

On the other hand, the impression I've gotten from reading this board, Kealy's book, and other resources is that MFA application readers are actually looking for a candid explanation of where you are as a writer and what you would like to accomplish. Attempts at cleverness or trying to tell them what they want to hear (overwrought writing or description of yourself that smacks of romanticized fiction) may backfire on you in this case where-as readers of Dickens would have loved it.

Maybe your Victorian lit man is reading your statement the way he'd read the statement of someone applying to a more academic program. Then again, maybe not--have someone else look at it for you.

(I'm not sure I'm answering your question here so much as a few of my own (and those, poorly), sorry.)

-laugher


HopperFu


Nov 6, 2006, 4:41 PM

Post #86 of 329 (6536 views)
Shortcut
Re: [plumagemour] Method of Statement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
is hopper's sop in this thread? i wasn't able to find it.

It was on page 2 of this thread, along with a little preamble. I've cut and pasted it again....

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.



sibyline


Nov 6, 2006, 7:47 PM

Post #87 of 329 (6503 views)
Shortcut
Re: [sibyline] Spacing? [In reply to] Can't Post

here's mine... really different from hopperfu's and we're in the same program, so...
--
I would like to pursue graduate studies in fiction to be in an environment where I can experiment and broaden the scope of my work, aided by the structure of a rigorous curriculum and consistent feedback. I also wish to continue and finish projects already underway. By the time I receive my degree, I plan to have manuscripts ready for publication, and a clearer idea of the directions in which I wish my future work to go. I would also like to teach fiction at the college level.

At present, I am working primarily on a novel entitled To See, while also writing short stories as a way of trying new ideas. To See is a first-person novel about a blind girl who grows up in a rural part of the Philippines then immigrates to the United States, where she eventually becomes a scientist who works on retinal implant technology that may allow blind people to see. She eventually has to decide whether or not to be one of the first people to have the operation that she herself helped develop. I am overlaying the twin themes of disability and immigration in order to explore the conjunctions and disparities between the two. In addition, I want the novel to explore how technology is viewed from two different cultural perspectives.

While I have many different ideas for short stories, the ones that are forming themselves into a cohesive body of work are set in the Philippines. A common thread in these stories is the way they depict actions and situations that are unfamiliar, almost implausible to Westerners, but are still within the realm of reality. In the stories I’ve included as part of my application, a six-year-old boy starts a revolution and a man returns from America after a quarter century to find the same servant outside his window. These events, while unusual, are much more plausible in the context of my native culture than they are in America. I want my stories to occupy a space between the real and the fantastic, so that they can continue to comment on aspects of lived life, while at the same time communicate how reality can be experienced in many more ways than a reader expects.

I believe that immigrant fiction as an increasingly established genre has the potential to move in such diverse directions, and I wish to be part of that movement. I am particularly interested in finding ways to write about immigration without making the fact of immigration so central to narratives, just as many of us who have immigrated indeed have to grapple with the consequences of our new lives on a regular basis, but must also contend with many other parts of ourselves. I also wish to write immigrant fiction that knowingly describes the problems of representation, of the way in which the act of writing itself necessarily distills and transforms experience. I have also written and will continue to write fiction that is not about the immigrant experience at all, but is nonetheless colored by my unique cultural perspective.

I studied English Literature as an undergraduate at Harvard, where I focused on dramatic literature but also did significant coursework in the 19th and early 20th century novel. I also have an MFA degree in Photography, which has allowed me to teach college-level courses both at Harvard and the California College of the Arts. However, I also feel that getting an MFA in fiction would fill significant gaps in my knowledge. For instance, I have hardly read contemporary or even postwar fiction in a class, and would like the experience of analyzing and discussing such work in a school setting. I have also had limited experience taking fiction classes in universities, and feel that ongoing feedback from faculty and fellow students, who will come to know my work on a consistent basis, will be invaluable.


Glinda Bamboo


Nov 6, 2006, 8:44 PM

Post #88 of 329 (6489 views)
Shortcut
Re: [sibyline] [In reply to] Can't Post

Sib and Hop, it was very generous of you to post your personal statements. I'm amazed at how different mine is from each of yours. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but I'm interested in the different takes.

It was great to read them. Thanks!


wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Nov 6, 2006, 11:03 PM

Post #89 of 329 (6473 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Glinda Bamboo] [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes,


it was incredibly generous of you two!

I have a question about SOP's. I faded out of an mfa program over ten years ago. Should I explain in my statement. Should I just chock it up to immaturity and move on?


vronsky


Nov 7, 2006, 8:18 AM

Post #90 of 329 (6453 views)
Shortcut
Re: [wilmabluekitty] [In reply to] Can't Post

My feeling is you should acknowledge the fact that you didn't complete the program, but you shouldn't go into a long-winded explanation. Don't act defensive, don't pretend it didn't happen. Maybe you can even use it to your advantage? "I unfortunately wasn't able to complete program X because of N. However, I feel I've matured a good deal since then, and look forward to starting anew...etc"

I guess I would just focus on what has been accomplished since then. Let your accomplishments do the talking. And trust that they'll understand, that they won't hold it against you, that they know you're only human...

In Reply To



JKicker
Jonathan

Dec 14, 2006, 10:59 PM

Post #91 of 329 (6193 views)
Shortcut
Re: [maggiekate] [In reply to] Can't Post

One question for anyone who can answer it. I noticed Hopper's and Sib's example letters didn't really mince words with an introduction. Is this the standard practice for this type of thing or did they just cut that part off of their examples for privacy's sake?

I have mine all ready to go but I just kind of feel like there should be a "Hello, my name is Jonathan and I'm 23 years old" bit to start off with?

Any advice on this bit?

Keep the dream alive!


wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Dec 14, 2006, 11:18 PM

Post #92 of 329 (6186 views)
Shortcut
Re: [JKicker] [In reply to] Can't Post

They know your name and what you want--all they want to know is why. I've seen a lot of people start with a good "hook"--a little story about what makes them unique. One talked about meeting George Saunders on a plane--I thought it was name-dropping til she mentioned that he's writing her a rec! Another began with a story about being half-American Indian, These seemed goood to me, but I've never gotten into a top tier school.


renapoo


Dec 14, 2006, 11:31 PM

Post #93 of 329 (6180 views)
Shortcut
Re: [wilmabluekitty] [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Tom Kealy's book and blog advocates doing a little intro, but I'm sure both ways are fine. Probably more important to have coherent sentences and be succinct. And oh yeah, the writing sample. I think I heard that was important too.


JKicker
Jonathan

Dec 15, 2006, 2:23 PM

Post #94 of 329 (6128 views)
Shortcut
Re: [renapoo] [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the replies. I'm on something like a final draft now. I wish this whole application process was easier so I could pretend I didn't invest much when the rejections come.


Aubrie


Dec 15, 2006, 7:12 PM

Post #95 of 329 (6078 views)
Shortcut
Re: [JKicker] [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Thanks for the replies. I'm on something like a final draft now. I wish this whole application process was easier so I could pretend I didn't invest much when the rejections come.

Well said!
I agree wholeheartedly.


sibyline


Dec 15, 2006, 8:02 PM

Post #96 of 329 (6074 views)
Shortcut
Re: [JKicker] [In reply to] Can't Post

don't know about hopperfu, but i cut and pasted my statement verbatim.


JKicker
Jonathan

Dec 15, 2006, 8:43 PM

Post #97 of 329 (6063 views)
Shortcut
Re: [sibyline] [In reply to] Can't Post

thanks sib


coolshoes


Dec 18, 2006, 5:36 PM

Post #98 of 329 (5991 views)
Shortcut
Keep in Mind [In reply to] Can't Post

A statement of purpose is important, of course. But from someone who is now in an MFA program, let me tellyou what happens when you meet faculty: Some will brighten when they meet you and hear your name and say something like, "Oh, I read your portfolio / manuscripts / piece about...." Not one said, oh I read your statement of purpose. Good luck all.


jdybka
Jilly Dybka

e-mail user

Dec 18, 2006, 8:27 PM

Post #99 of 329 (5962 views)
Shortcut
Re: [hapworth] Statement of Purpose [In reply to] Can't Post

This week The Chronicle of Higher Ed had an essay about MFA statements of purpose.

http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2006/12/2006121301c/careers.html

Not sure if this link is valid for non-subscibers.


Poetry Hut Blog (poetry news)




Banyon


Dec 18, 2006, 10:28 PM

Post #100 of 329 (5934 views)
Shortcut
Re: [jdybka] Statement of Purpose [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not subscriber, and I was able to read it.

It completely freaked me out. Now I'm afraid that I didn't show my statement to enough people and get enough feedback... my experience was similar to the author's: everyone I talked to gave me different and often conflicting feedback. I felt like my only choice was to try and pick and choose what the best advice was, but how could I know?

This was easily my least favorite part of the application process. I would rather take the GREs five times in a row than write a personal statement.

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