Apr 4, 2006, 9:29 PM
Post #35 of 128
I guess I sort of disagree with Apple Picker about Indiana...
Re: [theapplepicker] Indiana University MFA!
[In reply to]
The teaching load at Indiana can be unreasonably heavy. A good buddy of mine went through that program and he was constantly frustrated by not getting to teach any creative writing classes and by having so much grading to do that he hardly had any time to write. This is also a problem at Houston and UMass (if you can even get a teaching position for all three years at UMass, some people don't and it sucks). I know that friends who went through Iowa, Montana and Oregon enjoyed their teaching experiences and felt that the balance was just right...I don't know too much about teaching loads at other programs, though.
The cost of living in Bloomington is probably cheaper than Houston, since it's a smaller city...but Bloomington is your typical overpriced college town...I think it's a rip-off, just as I think Ithaca is way too expensive and Amherst is too expensive. There are much nicer and more affordable (or at least worth the cost of living there) college towns out there - Iowa City, Providence, Missoula, Portland, Charlottesville and Madison all come to mind. Housing in Bloomington is ridiculously costly for the crap you end up having to rent, especially if you didn't find an apartment for this fall three months ago. Parking is expensive for no good reason, as well. Plus, I just think Bloomington is lame. There's not much to do there if you're not a sports fanatic (compared to other college towns) and the surrounding area is boring and unattractive.
I agree that Bloomington is probably a lot safer than Houston, but it ain't Pleasantville ;-).
Tom Kealey says a lot of good things about Indiana in his book, but I guess I take what he says with a grain of salt...he gave Iowa a low ranking, but the fact is, Iowa is far and away the best...so I'm not sure what I think of Kealey's evaluation of Indiana. I certainly haven't heard some unilateral approval of the program from former students (mostly fiction).
I guess the final complaint I feel people should know about the Houston program vs. the Indiana program is this: from what I hear the wokshops (this is fiction, I don't know for sure about poetry) at Indiana don't have a repuation for being very vigorous, and are maybe what you'd call touchy-feely. I've heard this about a few programs, specifically Columbia College (for Clarabow), UMass (I know there were quite a few acceptances on these boards) and a couple others that I haven't seen discussed up here on the PW. The workshops at Houston are supposed to be very hard-hitting and Iowa-like. If you're looking for a vigorous program with really craft-driven workshops, I'd look at Iowa, Johns Hopkins, New School, NYU, Columbia, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin...there are a lot of programs that are a bit more structured and hard-edged in their workshops.
They're both great programs, though. Indiana seems very diverse (the MFA program, not the school), and Houston is tied for #2 with Johns Hopkins (in the last set of rankings). Congratulations.