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kbritten

e-mail user

Jun 20, 2010, 11:27 PM

Post #876 of 1018 (11039 views)
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     Re: [elissa] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Ew, smog is yucky. That's not cozy gray, that's cough-inducing, rub-your-eyes gray. Not appealing :( I think I would like the Pacific Northwest, but there aren't any good programs there and that would be quite the move.

And yes, I was the one asking about VCU. I love that you have that flagged as a reminder, haha. I think weather in the Carolinas and in Virginia is near perfect. I can't stand that FL has two seasons: hot and kind of hot, with a few days of what feels like really cold mixed in there. And I miss FALL!! :*( You know what I'm talking about!


sports_2422


Jun 21, 2010, 12:53 AM

Post #877 of 1018 (11032 views)
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     Re: [elissa] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

On Seth's blog, Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program (NWP) had an acceptance rate of roughly 17% in 2010 (21 out of 123 students). That had to be a typo. Right? That seems like a substantial percentage for an MFA program.


umass76


Jun 21, 2010, 12:56 AM

Post #878 of 1018 (11030 views)
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     Re: [In reply to]  

Not a typo. NF programs are substantially easier to get into (relatively speaking). --S.


Malory
Malory


Jun 23, 2010, 12:36 PM

Post #879 of 1018 (10607 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Hello everyone! I have just recently decided to look into Creative Writing MFAs. I am a Creative Studies major (with and English minor and focus on poetry) at the University of Central Oklahoma.I am slated for graduation with my BA in December 2010 so I am wanting to apply for Fall 2011. I am finding this a little overwhelming and I am glad to have found a good source of information on the topic. I downloaded the handbook but I am still drowning in a sea of University websites, funding issues and acceptance rates! Hopefully I can make some friends and maybe we can go through this process together?? Thanks everyone!

Mal


http://maloryization.tumblr.com

(This post was edited by Malory on Jun 23, 2010, 12:46 PM)


elissa
Elissa Field


Jun 23, 2010, 1:34 PM

Post #880 of 1018 (10596 views)
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     Re: [Malory] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

welcome, malory! one way to orient yourself (relatively) quickly is to scroll through posts from the past 12 mos. Sounds like a lot, but questions tend to repeat, year to year (which is good, but you might find answers from last year, before they get asked this year... if that makes sense). I just found it was a good way to get started. :)


http://elissafield.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/...p?id=100001772022683


greenpenquills


Jun 23, 2010, 2:23 PM

Post #881 of 1018 (10589 views)
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     Re: [elissa] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Hi everyone - I'm facing a bit of a conundrum right now. I applied to three programs in CNF last fall and was rejected by all. The rejections caused me to put more focus on my poetry writing and take a breather from memoir/essay writing. My goal for many years has been to write a full-length memoir, which I was hoping to do in a program.

I'm starting to wondering if maybe I should change my genre to poetry since it opens up more options in terms of schools and is something I'm a bit more confident about succeeding with. I am still on the young side (22), so age may also play a factor in the decision to write a memoir now versus later as well. I wonder if maybe I need more time and experience to do it justice, so maybe poetry is the way to go. The only problem is the nagging feeling that what I should be doing is writing a memoir and not getting an MFA in poetry.

I'm not sure whether this is the right place to ask advice, but I was wondering if anyone had any for me. I guess it will ultimately come down to more whether I can pull together another nonfiction writing sample, because my last sample took a lot out of me, and now I feel blocked. On the other hand, I have a lot of poetry stored up to include in a manuscript.

Any thoughts?


elissa
Elissa Field


Jun 23, 2010, 3:07 PM

Post #882 of 1018 (10582 views)
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     Re: [greenpenquills] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

I can offer a couple thoughts -- and they're just that, thoughts not advice. One is that I've never known of anyone other than, say, Anne Frank or Edwidge Danticat to write a memoir at 22. Surely there are exceptions (maybe an Olympic gymnast, or something), but it is unusual for anyone to have had experience enough or (as you suggested) perspective enough on that experience to have a memoir in them, yet. Even memoirs about dramatic childhoods (or, for ex, a friend of mine whose mother was murdered) are generally written further into adulthood. Those are the thoughts -- you are the one who would know if they apply to you. Maybe you're one of those exceptions.

The second thought actually extends that last sentence; the thought is this: do you have a sense of your own answer? So often by the time we type out our full question, we can feel our own answer forming in our chest, and that answer may be the most accurate one you're likely to get.

One piece of advice many have expressed in this topic over the years is that the MFA is not a time-sensitive degree. People seem to get hte most out of it when they have a clear project they are *ready* to work on. Maybe this is your year for the MFA, but then again, maybe you would do just as well writing on that memoir on your own for awhile? Again, I'm sure you have the best sense of what you are ready for htis year. Just don't let yourself get frustrated by assuming you have to be doing somethign this year. I beat myself up a lot if I didn't have great writing pouring out yet at 22 (while I had tons pouring out by 28) -- so I hope you go easier on yourself. Good luck!


http://elissafield.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/...p?id=100001772022683


flobelle


Jun 23, 2010, 3:41 PM

Post #883 of 1018 (10573 views)
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     Re: [greenpenquills] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

I second what elissa says. I never actually applied to the MFA program I attended, so I can't speak to the experience of application. Take what you will with a grain of salt:

Can I ask what programs you applied to? That might shed some light onto things. Also, even though I will be mercilessly mocked for saying this (I am a big fan of only applying to the few programs you would consider attending and if you don't get in, you don't get in...), but I know gals and guys who attended Arizona, the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, or The New School who applied to 7 or 8 schools--UNC-Wilmington, Arizona, Iowa, Montana, The New School, Columbia, Hollins?, and others. But if you're not in a hurry (and I don't see how you would being 22) you might want to just go live a little. Perspective is everything.

I know someone who did a CNF MFA and is really a poet, secretly. CNF and poetry go well together. But I wouldn't switch genres just because you're hoping to get in somewhere. I'm pretty sure it's still easier to get into a CNF program vs a poetry program of similar rank.

The other thing to consider maybe is a low-res MFA. Not sure if you're into that, but I know someone who went to Warren Wilson when she was right out of college, did the low residency thing there, and emerged with a poetry MFA. She said it can be isolating though if you don't feel like you mesh well with your professors, but I suppose that's probably also true of residency MFA programs. Overall she said she had an amazing experience and she really learned to write.


pongo
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e-mail user

Jun 23, 2010, 3:53 PM

Post #884 of 1018 (10566 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Another factor to consider is why you want the MFA. If it's to become a better writer, then you should be studying what you want to write (sometimes that changes during or after the program, but you can't control that). Just getting an MFA in poetry because you can't get into a program in CNF, when you want to write memoir, is a waste of time and money.

Of course, if you have to get an MFA because of a family tradition, or in order to get the job you want, or something not related to the writing, it doesn't matter in what genre you get it. And, no matter the genre, you will learn a lot that will apply to any kind of writing. But you need to know what good you think the degree will do you.


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/


__________



Jun 23, 2010, 5:56 PM

Post #885 of 1018 (10552 views)
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     Re: [greenpenquills] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Jim Carroll and Zoe Trope wrote some pretty bitchin' memoirs in their teens...

But the whole point of an MFA is to help you become good enough, eh? So why not go ahead and work on that memoir? Besides, as I understand it, the first one's just a bit of throat-clearing anyway, a way to purge all that biography from your head. Later, you'll be more freed up to use your imagination, turn out a nice bestseller like James Frey.


six five four three two one 0 ->


sports_2422


Jun 23, 2010, 6:05 PM

Post #886 of 1018 (10549 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

In response to the comment about low residency programs: Low residency programs don't generally offer much--if any--financial assistance. So, one needs to keep that in mind. Most young applicants, like myself, will generally apply to full residency programs. The only students that would be able to enter a low residency program are the ones that are in high income families.

With that said, the acceptance rates are much higher in low-residency programs. For instance, Hamline--which is not defined as a low-residency program, but it might as well call itself one because they only offer a $1,000 scholarship for financial assistance--recieves about 100 applications for every admissions cycle and they accept around 40-45 into their program every year. And for everyone who thinks $1,000 is a lot of money, at Hamline $1,000 doesn't come close to paying for one three-credit class. Nonetheless, any applicant has about a 50/50 shot of being accepted...and the same goes for real low-residency programs.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
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Jun 23, 2010, 6:33 PM

Post #887 of 1018 (10544 views)
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     Re: [sports_2422] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Sports,

It is true that most of the low-res programs offer little funding. If your income is low enough, however, you can qualify for a Pell grant. I know someone who attended that way.

I would disagree that the low-res programs are not as good as the residency programs. Like the residency programs, some of them have extremely low acceptance rates. The top three (according to Seth's blog) have an acceptance rate of less than 5%, I believe. It isn't a "given" that you'll be accepted to the low-res program of your choice. Most low-res MFA programs are two-year programs that function without spring breaks, winter breaks, or semester breaks. In essence, the two-year low-res program crams the equivalent of 3 nine-month school years into two 24 months. It's a hectic and demanding schedule with consistent deadlines.

I attended a low-res program for my MFA. Our family is not wealthy, and we did this with our two children in college. Yes, we have some debt, but it's getting paid off, and the cost was worth every penny for me.

As to the OP's original concerns-- I agree with Elissa that you may have answered your own question. If the poetry is calling to you, then that is what you should be writing. No offense, but I think trying to write a memoir at age 22 may be going against you. It's difficult to write effectively about our lives without some personal bias. Only distance (in time and space) can provide the objectively you need to tell the story honestly. At 22, you may still not have enough distance to view your story clearly.

Just my thoughts...

Jeanne
http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


sports_2422


Jun 23, 2010, 6:45 PM

Post #888 of 1018 (10542 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

If a student is a creative nonfiction writer, that does not mean the student has to write a memoir. Just like if an applicant is interested in fiction, that doesn't mean the student has to write a novel--unless the program is designed primarily around a novel thesis. After all, there are some writers, like myself, who have no interest in writing a novel or memoir. In the case of myself, I enjoy short stories much more than novels.

I also didn't mean to imply that full residency programs are "better" than low-residency programs. I simply stated that low-residency programs are, for the most part, easier to get into.


pongo
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e-mail user

Jun 23, 2010, 6:58 PM

Post #889 of 1018 (10536 views)
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     Re: [sports_2422] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

The financial situation with low-res programs is a little more complex than people have said here. I was not wealthy when I started mine (and am probably further from wealthy now, in part as a result), but have no debt from the program. In large part, this is because you can keep your day job while you're in a low-res program.

In fact, most of my fellow students did just that. Very few of them were full-time students; some cut their work hours back to part-time while they were in the program, and one was retired (going for her fifth or sixth degree, as I recall), but most continued to work. So they were not getting financial aid in the sense that full-time students did, but they were also not losing the income from their jobs. There's a balance there.


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/


sports_2422


Jun 23, 2010, 7:02 PM

Post #890 of 1018 (10535 views)
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     Re: [pongo] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Yes, that is true. That is also one more reason why young students, like myself, generally do not attend low-residencey programs. After all, most young students do not have stable careers. Thus, most students are probably going to seek out full residency programs. Nonetheless, you're correct Pongo.


greenpenquills


Jun 23, 2010, 8:36 PM

Post #891 of 1018 (10521 views)
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     Re: [sports_2422] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Thanks to everyone who shared their feedback, I really appreciate it. I didn't mean to imply that I'm not serious about poetry as a genre, or that it's a fallback for not getting into any CNF programs. I wouldn't be considering it if that were the case. I was having these thoughts and doubts about memoir even before the rejections came.

While my ultimate goal as of now is to write a memoir, I'm not sure this is the time, and I'm not sure an MFA is the way to do it. I feel like poetry comes more naturally to me, less forced. I want an MFA to be qualified to teach as well as to improve my writing skills and help me produce a publishable work. I've been out of college six months now and can't find anything appealing in the way of work, so I figured that now may be the time to do this. I'll still have another year before I'd even go, and I think two years between undergrad and MFA is generally recommended.

I know I'm not the only one hoping to wait out the recession a little by going to school, and I can't really see a lot of downsides as long as it's mostly or fully funded. I miss being part of a community of writers and really thrive in that environment. I'm very interested in poetry and feel passionate about it, and I know it's something I can do and enjoy doing without a doubt.

Sorry, this is all very long winded and it's mostly just helpful to myself to write it all out. Thanks again for the feedback.


spamela


Jun 24, 2010, 2:09 PM

Post #892 of 1018 (10426 views)
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     Re: [greenpenquills] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

You should look, too, to see which MFA programs offer both poetry and CNF workshops. Just because you enter as one or the other doesn't mean you can't spread your wings once you're inside that program. I'm a fiction PhD but I've taken just as many CNF workshops as fiction and I've published about equal amounts of both. I don't feel anymore that I have one true genre and it's really nice and freeing to be able to work on very different writing projects. That said, when applying, you should probably apply for whichever genre you feel you need the most craft work in. FWIW, I know a lot of poets who trained/learned as poets and write CNF on their own. I don't know anyone who started in CNF and moved to poetry. That's not to say they're not out there, but in my limited experience, the poetry-->CNF move is more common than CNF-->poetry.


alamana
Jennifer Brown


Jun 25, 2010, 6:37 AM

Post #893 of 1018 (10355 views)
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     Re: [greenpenquills] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

I'm in an MFA program on the fiction track, and I'm taking lots of CNF classes. I also suggest you look for programs supportive of cross-genre work.


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com


nine


Jun 26, 2010, 1:38 PM

Post #894 of 1018 (10118 views)
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     Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Hi everyone. I have a problem. My writing does not seem to fit neatly in either the poetry or fiction genres but rather somewhere in between. I write sentences instead of lines and I write narratives, however nontraditional. My language is very poetic and my pieces are short, usually around one page. I don't write dialouge and my characteres are not really characters at all because they don't have names or backstories or personalities.

I do read more fiction than poetry and i identify with fiction writers more, whatever that means, i really don't know. When i first started writing i wrote poetry but I have watched my writing gradually change into something more ambiguous. In this past I've felt very awkward in my poetry workshops. I've never taken a fiction workshop but I imagine I'd feel just as awkward.

There are a few schools, like Cal Arts, that don't require you to apply in any one specific genre but all of the fully funded schools do and I'd like to attend one of those. I'm afraid if I apply in poetry my work wont be recognized as poetry and if i apply in fiction my work wont be recognized as fiction either. Should i just make up my mind and declare myself to be a writer of one genre and not the other. Is it up to me to decide? or maybe the MFA isn't for me. Has anyone else experienced a similar dilemma?


Malory
Malory


Jun 26, 2010, 4:02 PM

Post #895 of 1018 (10093 views)
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     Re: [elissa] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Thanks for the advice! I am just looking around, and trying to find the answers to my questions. Looks like I need to produce the best 12 pieces of poetry of MY LIFE in the next few months, haha. I joined a writers group so I could get more opinions on my writing and I have already tried to orient my parents on all of the programs. It's going to be a year full of hard work, it seems.


http://maloryization.tumblr.com


pongo
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e-mail user

Jun 26, 2010, 4:17 PM

Post #896 of 1018 (10089 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

nine, could what you're writing be classed as flash fiction? Look around and see whether someone else is doing something similar.

And, of course, an MFA may not be for you. What would you hope to get from the degree? If you don't have a clear idea of that, maybe you don't need one, or don't need one now.


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/


nine


Jun 26, 2010, 6:56 PM

Post #897 of 1018 (10063 views)
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     Re: [pongo] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Pongo,

I want to enroll in an MFA program simply to work on my writing with other writers for two to three years.

If my work could be classified as fiction it probably would be considered flash fiction simply because of its brevity. I've read many pieces of flash fiction but haven't come across anything that resembles what i'm writing. I've honestly never come across any writer who i felt had written work that resembled mine. I don't know what exactly this implies though or if it even has any implications at all. I just know i've always felt a lack of community amongst my peers and the larger literary world.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jun 26, 2010, 8:05 PM

Post #898 of 1018 (10045 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

It might be a lot cheaper for you just to find a good writers' group. And then you wouldn't have to shoehorn your work into a category. If you're in or near a city, look at Meetup.com or Craigslist to see if they have anything. Check with libraries and chain bookstores, too.

Or you could look into the low-res programs, some of which are willing to personalize your program, since the whole degree is so personalized anyway.


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/


ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Jun 26, 2010, 11:46 PM

Post #899 of 1018 (9983 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Could you be writing prose poetry?


Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.


forthedogs


Jun 27, 2010, 10:10 AM

Post #900 of 1018 (9877 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

there are plenty of programs that let you work in more than one genre. UMass, off the top of my head, is one. Brown, maybe, if only just for its emphasis on "innovative" work. this is absolutely not something i would worry about at all before applying for an mfa. if you're writing well and you're confident in the work you're putting together. you'll do fine in an mfa program. in my experience, good professors and fellow students will be more than well equipped to respond to many kinds of work. just do what you do. literary community shouldn't be about doing the same kinds of work. also, i really, really don't mean this to be rude, but if you aren't finding work that is similar to what you're working on or work that is, what, genetically similar or something, you're not reading widely enough. There are a lot of poets and writers who work in this form--short, lyrical, yet narrative-type work. Rosemary Waldrop, Paul Lisicky, James Tate, Lucy Corin, just off the top of my head.

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