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BLUECHEESE


Dec 3, 2007, 2:19 AM

Post #776 of 1175 (12920 views)
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Re: [popeye] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

One has to consider that certain great students who don’t fit the aesthetic of these big name schools may be passed over. Take students who are more experimental (taking L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry to new levels of inhumanness, for example), aren’t going to fit in so well at some of these better known schools, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t among the best poets out there. Personally, I don’t care for much of it, but that doesn’t mean the poet isn’t putting a lot of effort in to this aesthetic that they may be extremely committed to.

So, to say that the best poets are always going to be at those top programs is troublesome. I’d say, those who write to the establishment, who are quite great poets within that realm, get into top programs. The brilliant person writing stream of consciousness poetry or found poetry or chance operation poetry probably isn’t going to make the cut.


umass76


Dec 3, 2007, 2:27 AM

Post #777 of 1175 (12914 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

JM,

The grade inflation in the Ivy League should be a national scandal. It's the rich aiding the rich in staying rich, basically.

As to changing the system (re: MFAs), I think I'm somewhere in the middle. When I look back at the rankings that were done last year (don't worry, not rehashing that argument, just explaining myself) I am impressed to see that so many of the "top" schools are not "random" top schools, but schools with longstanding reputations for excellence. An example: Emerson College, because of the 1997 rankings, had a spectacular place in the MFA pantheon which I'm not sure was ever fully analyzed. Was there good funding? Did it have the top faculty? It was ranked in the top twenty in 1997, but as time went on I think people began to say, "Well, it's a good program, top fifty maybe, but it's not a top program." When you look at the rankings now, I feel like there are fewer and fewer programs toward the top whose "topness" cannot be traced to something that makes sense--Michigan, for instance, isn't just a random "top" MFA, it has incredible funding, a reputation for strong support of its students, a perfect size (not too small, not too large), a very good student-to-faculty ratio, a great location, one of the strongest international focuses of any MFA (only UNLV can probably compare), and as important as anything else is that the Michigan name has extreme purchase in the professional world--whatever profession you're speaking of--and that that purchase has been earned through decades of excellence at Michigan "across-the-board" (i.e. in nearly all academic fields).

So, if I thought the current trends were more random--like, if the herd was saying "Apply to this random school because everyone else is, and we heard a rumor from a friend of a friend that it's a kinda good experience!"--I'd be more concerned. As it is, I think most of the top programs have what I'd call a "traceable" value.

Best,
Seth


popeye


Dec 3, 2007, 2:38 AM

Post #778 of 1175 (12910 views)
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Re: [umass76] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

S.

I think the idea of "Traceable Value" is actually a really important factor, and probably the most important in terms of why students choose certain programs over others. I wish we could put a number rating on it.

However I think what some might object to is the fact that Traceable Value is essentially a self fulfilling prophecy that can only really be undone by faulty or corrupt admissions and hiring. Therefore if program A has a T.V. Index of 87.9 and attracts some of the "subjectively" strongest students but passes on them in favor of a particular asthetic or because they have decided only to accept the children of their friends and hire exiled dictators to teach workshop they may soon find their TVI falling like Worldcom stock. However if they can somehow hold onto those things that created the trace in the first place they will continue to have a high TVI despite our repeatedly saying XXXX is not a top program because my friend said so.

Popeye


EastCoastPoet


Dec 3, 2007, 2:48 AM

Post #779 of 1175 (12908 views)
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Re: [umass76] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

Seth,

Sure, a bit of what I said was in agreement to your points (after all, they're valid or else you wouldn't have brought them up!), but that does bring up a good point! Bowling Green is one of the oldest programs in the country, yet people put it in the "up and coming" category quite often. Through discussion I've learned that a number of years ago, when the MFA scene was around 40 and not this ridiculous 200 or so, Bowling Green had its fair share of competition and hefty amount of applications. While the number now ranges from 125-200 per year, this number a rough guestimate from Larissa Szporluk herself, why do you think that pales in comparison to schools like Iowa, Michigan, The New School, etc?

Bowling Green is fully funded (around $8400/year) for all 10 students they accept per year. They're one of the few schools that enables their students to teach both years of the program (composition AND creative writing courses). And if that weren't enough, the students relationship to Mid-American Review is a requirement for at least one semester. Where's the downside? It's hard to see one...

To add, not everyone applies to the "top" schools, so the idea that they have their pick of the litter isn't true either. I'd be interested to know how many of the people who frequent this board, applying now or in the past, applied to schools like Iowa, UMass, Texas, etc.

Yes, word of mouth is HUGE, but (and please correct me if I'm missing your point entirely) who says application numbers are in direct correlation with, well, anything?! Numbers rise and fall on a whim. Personally, I feel as though many MFA applicants are being misled when they're presented with any numbers beyond the basics...years, cost, etc.

I can't keep up...good luck to all of the applicants!

Tom


umass76


Dec 3, 2007, 2:49 AM

Post #780 of 1175 (12907 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

BlueCheese,

I agree with you 100%. I don't know how we solve that problem; until faculty readers become more open-minded, and/or internal school cultures become less aesthetically homogeneous, it's probably going to be an entrenched dilemma. The one piece of good news is that the Lang-Po folks have done a bang-up job creating their own publishing organs, if not their own MFAs (which many of them would consider an oxymoron; the Lang-Po crowd seems to be generally hostile to the MFA concept, which is why maybe the problem you outline isn't as widespread as it might otherwise be--I don't know that experimental poets apply to MFAs at nearly the same rate as more mainstream writers, though obviously that's rank speculation. I can say that, when I was an active poetry editor for a literary journal, I came across very few experimental submissions, and considered the possibility that one reason for this is that experimental writers are more suspicious of conventional publishing methods--so, maybe they feel the same way about art education? Dunno).

S.


__________



Dec 3, 2007, 5:53 AM

Post #781 of 1175 (12898 views)
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Re: [umass76] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

Really? Because it seems that the LangPods pretty much rely on the university system. Like abstract painting, when virtually anyone, including children, can perform an art, you simply must affiliate your work with some arcane, jargonated pseudo-theory, or at least a recognized higher-ed outfit like Brown, UMass, or Alabama. How many experimental poems do Fence, Octopus, et al publish that are not part of the MFA web?

Not that the 'experimental' stuff is confined to just those schools. Tony Tost went to Arkansas, I think, and Rebecca Wolfe went to Iowa...


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Dec 3, 2007, 5:55 AM)


BLUECHEESE


Dec 3, 2007, 9:26 AM

Post #782 of 1175 (12877 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Buffalo is becoming a center of lang-po as well (do they only have a phd program? I'm not sure). But the scope of lang-po can be extended out to the likes of Creeley and Armantrout if one so chooses... And I think that whole culture is a product of the MFA... with younger poets like... Graham Foust and Sasha Steenseen. But even then, it is hard to say that some "modernism" isn't slipping in.

But, I'd agree, I don't think some of the hyper-experimental stuff is a product of the MFA.... But wouldn't be interesting to have some arsehole guy grinding his chance operation axe in workshop. I think It would spark some very cool discussions.

"this poem makes no sense..."
"well, I decided to google "porn star" and then write down all of the results..."


__________



Dec 3, 2007, 9:31 AM

Post #783 of 1175 (12875 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

Dude...your junk mail filter is your best friend for modern poetry. The phrases those bots come up with to try and beat the filter is pure genius.


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BLUECHEESE


Dec 3, 2007, 9:31 AM

Post #784 of 1175 (12874 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder how this poem would go over in an application packet... heh

Pornstar
after Keats

turns out that Emily Sander of Kansas led a double life as a porn star, now she may have lost her life. Police in Kansas have just found a body in the ...

porn-star.com is a HUGE free pornstar site with free pornstars pictures, videos, news, DVD of the week, links to official adult stars sites, birthdays, ...

Porn Star Clothing is market driven by its shock appeal, non-conformist attitude and controversial moniker, Porn Star is "alternative" clothing that is in ...

PornstarBook.com free pornstar pics and galleries featuring the sexiest pornstars and starlets in the adult film world.

A pornographic actor/actress or a porn star is somebody who appears in ... The generally acknowledged first porn star with specific (stage) name recognition ...


Clench Million
Charles

Dec 3, 2007, 10:46 AM

Post #785 of 1175 (12857 views)
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Re: [EastCoastPoet] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
While I am in no way going to take the time or length to reply to all of that, (kudos to your dedication, Seth) you cannot be serious with all of that strained logic, can you? Iowa gets over 1000 applications, I'm sure. But why is that? I would gamble on saying a general consensus of the writing world would say Iowa is not the #1 MFA program in this country. Then why do they get so many applications? Not because "person A says to person B..." etc etc...but because they're Iowa! It's the same reason people go to Harvard, buy a Mercedes, and so on...

Iowa is not the best MFA program and Mercedes does not make the best cars. Simply put, it's almost at the level of tradition. Let the s**t storm begin!

Tom


I guess I'm willing to to be the first to ask... why not? Why isn't Iowa the best program? It has a great faculty, great reputation, great peer group and is normally listed as having the best publication success with only Columbia and UCI being close in that regard.

As far as I can tell, there are only two gripes I really hear about Iowa. One makes sense to me, one does not. First, people complain that they don't fully fund everyone. Frankly I don't see why this is so relevant. Iowa funds MORE people per year than most small fully funded programs and tuition is pretty low no matter what. Secondly, I've heard complaints that Iowa has a very narrow aesthetic amongst both its faculty and peers. This is I think a legitimate complaint and one that turns me off from Iowa personally, but Iowa's aesthetic seems to be the main aesthetic of literary fiction these days and the same one most programs focus on so if that is your bag, who beats Iowa? I'm sure we could squabble here about this or that program being better, but the bottom line is that Iowa is one of the absolute top programs in the country and whether you place it first or third or fifth seems fairly unimportant.

As has been mentioned by several posters already, the peer group is probably the most biggest factor in how your MFA experience unfolds and Iowa has one of the best peer groups.

Edited to add: Also, I guess it depends on what you are defining as "the writing world," but I pretty frequently hear Iowa called the best program by everyone from students to critics to publishing people.


Quote
Bowling Green is fully funded (around $8400/year) for all 10 students they accept per year. They're one of the few schools that enables their students to teach both years of the program (composition AND creative writing courses). And if that weren't enough, the students relationship to Mid-American Review is a requirement for at least one semester. Where's the downside? It's hard to see one...


Nothing against BG, but don't you find it a bit odd that nothing in your pitch has anything to do with, well, the point of an MFA program? Nothing about how classes work, who teaches classes, who is in your workshop, how alumni do... nothing about being taught and practicing creative writing.

I've worked for journals and taught so you don't have to convince me those things are good, but they aren't the point of an MFA program and not everyone who goes to an MFA program WANTS to teach or wants to work on a journal. While I understand how you can be wary of measuring programs based on applications received, faculty's perceived status, student publications and so on... because these things are both hard to measure and somewhat selective, it still seems far more rational to me than judging programs based on things that are really tangential to an MFA's central goal. Obviously as an individual you should judge a program based on whatever your own personal needs are (Queer student groups? Multiple lit mags? Small town location? etc.), but if we are judging them in general it seems like odd criteria to focus on.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Dec 3, 2007, 10:50 AM)


BLUECHEESE


Dec 3, 2007, 2:24 PM

Post #786 of 1175 (12811 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] What are the odds? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it all matters: quality of peers, teaching and editing experience, and how good the faculty and fellow students are at drinking beer. The last one is the one to which I give the most weight.


motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
e-mail user

Dec 3, 2007, 7:50 PM

Post #787 of 1175 (12761 views)
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Topicality [In reply to] Can't Post

This is actually a very good discussion but it seems that it's less about writing an application than it is about Rankings.

So, I's appreciate if you take this discussion to the Ranking topic so that people who want to discuss their current MFA applications can do that here. I can move some posts there too if you'd like.

Dana


(This post was edited by motet on Dec 3, 2007, 7:51 PM)


bennyprof


Dec 3, 2007, 11:52 PM

Post #788 of 1175 (12706 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

Wondering what your advice might be when comes to listing other programs you're applying to on the grad school app for Cornell. I doubt it'll play much of a role either way, just wondering what the purpose is, how they'd look at it, etc. Is there any reason to leave it blank? I know, very nit-picky. I'm probably just stalling now.


__________



Dec 4, 2007, 1:11 AM

Post #789 of 1175 (12691 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

Ugh. Cornell's like that new girlfriend who tears through your photo album when you're in the can...What other girls have you dated? Were they thin? Thinner than meeeee...???? If I were you, I'd list the five lowest-ranked schools in the nation.


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BLUECHEESE


Dec 4, 2007, 1:15 AM

Post #790 of 1175 (12689 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

or better yet, list fast food joints that serve tacos...

Taco Bell, Taco Johns, Taco Time, Moe's, Qudoba


bighark


Dec 4, 2007, 8:21 AM

Post #791 of 1175 (12657 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

Great analogy, Junior!


bighark


Dec 4, 2007, 8:27 AM

Post #792 of 1175 (12656 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

That part of the application is used by the university, not the program. Cornell's (or any other institution's) faculty won't be looking at your other schools and judging you, and they for damn sure won't base admission decisions on what you put down.

Don't stress out about this section.

Good luck!


HopperFu


Dec 4, 2007, 10:08 AM

Post #793 of 1175 (12639 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
your advice might be when comes to listing other programs you're applying to

I don't see any reason not to list it. I suspect that Bighark is correct, and the committee doesn't look at it, however, if they do look at it, it might be helpful for you to list the other schools. At Cornell and many other schools all funding awards are equal, but at a school where funding is competitive, it might drive them to make you a better funding offer (i.e., they'd think, well, if we don't give them X dollars, they'll go to school Y). I think.
I would NOT list all fifteen schools you are applying to - you don't want to appear as if you are just shotgunning it (though I do actually advocate applying to that many) - but just a few, say five?
I guess if you want to get really strategic about it, I'd say to make it so that the school you are applying to is neither way better nor way worse than the other schools you are applying to. Kind of voodoo science. So if you are applying to Cornell, you'd try to list four other schools that you are applying to that you think are commensurate with Cornell.
Probably overthinking this. I don't see any real reason not to do it. Again, the reality is that almost everything hinges on the writing application, and then following that, it goes to letters of rec and statement of purpose, than transcripts and gres, and then, somewhere down there, shoe size, eye color, etc.
For what it's worth, the schools that accepted me did ask where else I had applied.


rpc
ryan call

Dec 4, 2007, 11:01 AM

Post #794 of 1175 (12623 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

hilarious


<HTMLGIANT>


rppohl


Dec 4, 2007, 11:13 AM

Post #795 of 1175 (12611 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi all,
A new delurker here. Thanks to everyone for all the help. I left that part of Cornell's app blank because, honestly, I wasn't sure which programs I'd be applying to. If I'm fortunate enough to get a call, I'd be glad to let them know. At this point, I wouldn't sweat it.


bennyprof


Dec 4, 2007, 4:36 PM

Post #796 of 1175 (12554 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks to everyone who answered. There's only room for two schools in the blank (if I give the full names), and I've got a few picked out that I think'll work well. And yep, I'm applying to a lot of programs. (15+) Would be thrilled to get a call from any one of them.


noah


Dec 7, 2007, 12:06 PM

Post #797 of 1175 (12447 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

I just decided that I want to apply to MFA programs for the fall. I mean, I've known that I want to do it for a while, but just decided that I'm going to apply this time around. Don't want to let another year go by.

Let's see, it's Dec. 7th. The first deadline I'm looking at is Jan. 2. I've got transcripts and letters of rec on the way. I haven't taken a GRE. And my manuscript needs a lot of work - I might even try writing something new. I can work pretty fast, but not sure I can work fast enough.

Can I pull it off? I'd like to apply to three or four schools - all in NYC. If I can stay focused and cram hard - how long will it take me to get a solid application together?


bennyprof


Dec 7, 2007, 12:12 PM

Post #798 of 1175 (12443 views)
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Re: [noah] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

That really all depends on you. How much spare time do you have? How fast can you usually work up and polish a story? Do you have a few good, reliable readers whose opinions you trust?

It'll be tough, but I think it's definitely possible to work up a solid application in less than a month.


__________



Dec 7, 2007, 10:24 PM

Post #799 of 1175 (12390 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey noah. I'd recheck the school web sites; a lot of them read applications a few weeks past the deadline.


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ejdifili
Emily

Dec 9, 2007, 3:20 PM

Post #800 of 1175 (12290 views)
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Re: [noah] Application Time [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, MFA applications take way longer than I had anticipated. I'm in the middle of applying to 9 different schools, and realizing I should have started much earlier. I'll pull it off, but it's going to be a crunch.

I'd say it also depends on how many other responsibilities you have at the moment. As for me, I'm a high school teacher at the end of my semester, in addition to being at the end of the semester for a grad course I'm taking at the University of Missouri. So there is a lot going on for me right now, and I'm wishing I had begun my applications a month or so earlier. Even when you have all the materials together, it takes a lot of time just to fill out all the forms, request transcripts and rec letters, etc. At least the Internet expedites the process somewhat.

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