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artal


Dec 22, 2009, 1:12 PM

Post #2101 of 2662 (20012 views)
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Re: [bardberry] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Barberry, how much time did you spend laboring over your critical essay for VCFA (if you didn't already have one written from, say, an undergrad class)? I am applying there for the term that begins this summer and the critical essay is my last step. I feel pretty confident with what I've written, after having had writing mentors look it over. I just don't how large a role it plays in the acceptance process. Thoughts? Thanks!


artal


Dec 22, 2009, 1:16 PM

Post #2102 of 2662 (20009 views)
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Re: [artal] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

By the way, I might as well announce that I was recently accepted by Goddard for fiction. They are the first school I heard back from, and it was very quick! Pretty exciting.


bardberry


Dec 22, 2009, 1:27 PM

Post #2103 of 2662 (20002 views)
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Re: [artal] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

artal--I already had one prepared from an Irish fiction class I took at Bard. The labor went into the personal statement!

Good luck. I heard in less than a month. Still not decided if I'm going for certain.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Dec 22, 2009, 2:18 PM

Post #2104 of 2662 (19987 views)
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Re: [bardberry] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry to take so long to get back to you. Our family dog passed away on Sunday. With that, Christmas, and the rush to get everything together for graduation, it's been kind of crazy around here.

Okay, what did you want to know about my experience at VCFA?

My advisors were all terrific. I knew very little about any of them before I started the program, but I felt they focused on my goals, my needs, my particular writing issues. My first advisor really helped me think about the tension in my fiction. My second advisor pushed me to finish my novel (I did!) and to work on such craft issues as deepening POV, tightening the prose, and enhancing character motivation. My third advisor worked with me on my critical thesis and some short fiction. She was a fabulous editor who really showed me how to edit my own work. She also helped with tips on dialogue (one of her strengths). For the critical thesis, she was a tough task-master, forcing me to narrow my focus about my topic. (I think I re-wrote it four times!) My last advisor took on the job of whipping my novel into publication-ready shape--all 470 pages! We spent the semester working on indepth revisions, cleaning up dialogue tags, repetition, flabby scenes, little places where I was "telling," etc.

In general, I found Vermont to be incredibly nurturing. They take pride on making this a safe but challenging place to improve your craft. The administration is absolutely tops. If you need it, they make it happen. I've developed some life-long friendships with many of my fellow students, and we chat often by email or on FB. In that sense, it's a great networking resource, as people are quite receptive to passing on leads for publishers, markets, grants, agents, etc.

The negatives-- (fairly mild, but I found them a negative) The housing conditions are, uh, primitive. Think 1960s-style dorm rooms, and you have a good picture. If you decide on Vermont, invest in a nice comforter, a good pillow (although blankets and pillows are provided), and one of those Temperapedic mattress pads (for a twin bed). The mattresses suck! The food is okay, sometimes better than others, but it's cafeteria food. It's prepared by New England Culinary students who sometimes create rather strange experiments... Library and staff are fabulous. If they don't have it, they'll find it. The computer lab is decent, and most of the campus is now wireless.

Residencies also include some downtime and entertainment. In addition to the lectures, readings, panel discussions, workshop, and visiting authors, winter residency has a New Year's Eve party, talent show, and auction. Summer residency has a baseball game/picnic, talent show, and auction. The talent shows are always a hoot.

Students are encouraged to be as involved as they want. You can help with recording the lectures, running errands, etc. Graduating students often return as grad assistants (I've applied for a slot.) Faculty are friendly and supportive.

Does that cover it?

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


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


bardberry


Dec 23, 2009, 6:44 AM

Post #2105 of 2662 (19949 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, Jeanne, thanks for your candid and extensive reply! You basically covered it. I have spoken to another alumni who basically said the same thing--that the experience was unbelievable, but the dorms sucked :) That VCFA has an active alumni base is also attractive to me.


Windiciti



Dec 25, 2009, 11:37 PM

Post #2106 of 2662 (19881 views)
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Re: [esined] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm thinking of applying to WW, Vermont and Pacific. Not interested in Bennington because I am getting an MCW from NU in June, and want to focus on MY writing---not read one hundred bks. as they say in their ads. I have ruled out Antioch because I want to be on areal campus during the residencies, not at a motel in Culver City.
Of the three programs I mentioned I got a good feeling about Pacific and Vermont. WW is considered excellent but it might be too academic.
I am interested in a "studio" program. Can anyone give me some help?
BTW I am doing this for myself as a writer. I have sufficient credentials to teach in a CC or adjunct in a university.
Thank you for any replies.


Windiciti



Dec 25, 2009, 11:50 PM

Post #2107 of 2662 (19880 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Jeanne,
I read your fantastic, detailed post after writing my question. My guts say Vermont, more than Pacific.
I was rejected by WWC 3 years ago. Of course my writing has improved quite a bit since then...
What I'd like to know about VC is if they give scholarships, and if so how generous are they?
If I only went in the summers and I worked as an adjunct for 9 months, I could pay it myself---otherwise I wd. need a scholarship or fellowship. I am too old to take on any debt.
Thank you!


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Dec 26, 2009, 12:19 AM

Post #2108 of 2662 (19873 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Windiciti,

I think they do offer some scholarships, but the amount doesn't cover your full tuition. If you work as an adjunct, you could still probably attend winter sessions, as the winter residency schedule is always from Dec. 29-Jan. 7. Most schools start their academic calendar after Jan. 7, I think. The scholarship amounts tend to vary based on what is available each semester. I know our class is making a donation to the scholarship fund, and the school is making a strong effort to increase the available funds. I'd send them an email and ask about the availability of scholarships. They're very friendly.

Vermont recently severed their ties with Union Institute and Univ., becoming an independent, fully accredited school. They now go by the name Vermont College of Fine Arts (that's the school name that will also be on my diploma). The really good news about this new identity is that VCFA is wholly committed to re-investing in the program, improving facilities, scholarships, offerings, etc. They are also expanding to offer degrees in the other fine arts, including visual, music, and possibly, dance. It's pretty exciting, and the administration at Vermont is top notch.

As for the other question about Vermont being a studio program? I'm not sure how to answer this. You are required to do both creative and critical writing, but the emphasis is on the creative. The idea is that you will learn to improve your craft by analyzing the craft of writers on your reading list. During the first two semesters you work on creative material in all five packets and write a total of twenty critical essays (on elements of craft from your reading list). The third semester, you are required to write a critical thesis, focusing on a topic of interest to you and/or your work. That thesis is usually about 25-35 pages. You also continue to work on creative material. Fourth semester is your creative thesis, a time when you bring everything together. You put together a project of creative work (minimum of 75 pages) that is polished and ready for publication. My creative thesis was a bit on the long side because it included my complete novel (a project I finished during the two years at Vermont). In Courier 12 point font, I had a full-length novel of about 450 pages, or 95k words.

You attend five residencies at Vermont. The final residency is your graduation residency in which you present a 45-minute lecture and give a 20-minute reading of your work. I leave on Monday to start my final residency. Can't wait!

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


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


Windiciti



Dec 26, 2009, 12:41 AM

Post #2109 of 2662 (19869 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Jeanne,
It was so kind of you to write me back so quickly. Your response about the critical work frightened me a little. I am so tired of writing papers! I have an MPA, various teaching certs. Spanish, English, ESL, etc. Now I will get a Master in Creative Writing in Fiction---working on thesis which I hope w/be 200 double spaced pages of short stories, if my advisor ever approves of something so I can finish.
I am quite tired and just don't know if I have the stamina or desire to do all the work you described so precisely---thank you for that, Jeanne. Perhaps I should wait---

I wish you a wonderful final residency. Your excitement and happiness w/VCFA are so palpable, it must be greatto have completed such a program and book. Congratulations!


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Dec 26, 2009, 1:07 PM

Post #2110 of 2662 (19829 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Windiciti, I don't think you'll find a program that doesn't involve a lot of reading. I went to Goddard and, while there is a lot of emphasis on the writing, we also had to read (and write about) about a book a week. You can't improve your writing in a vacuum. What we were writing about, with all those books, was what we can learn as writers from each book, or from some aspect of the book. It would be very hard to separate the critical and studio work in most low-res programs, I think.

And VCFA is in one of my very favorite towns. I love Montpelier (Goddard is about ten miles away).


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/


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Dec 26, 2009, 1:26 PM

Post #2111 of 2662 (19826 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Ah, thank you, Windiciti! Now I just have to find an agent who loves said book! That's my project post-graduation.

David is right about the reading. And remember, these aren't English-major-style critical essays. Each one is about 2-3 pages max and deals with an element of craft. Some of my paper topics included: setting as a character; how sentence structure creates transitions in magic realism; expository dialogue; and the use of internal monologue to create an appealing unsavory protagonist. Your reading list is personally tailored to your interests and needs each semester.

I would add, though, that VCFA tells potential students to plan on committing a minimum of 25 hours per week to reading and writing. That's a pretty good estimate of your time commitment. You really have to be self-disciplined to keep on top of the work load. Those monthly packet deadlines come at you faster than you think.

Oh, I love Montpelier too. It's a charming town, and the people are wonderful.

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


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


__________



Dec 26, 2009, 5:06 PM

Post #2112 of 2662 (19801 views)
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Re: [pongo] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Ahem. You wouldn't maybe happen to have a book list tucked away somewhere, would you?


six five four three two one 0 ->


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Dec 26, 2009, 6:58 PM

Post #2113 of 2662 (19789 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe I've posted it here somewhere way,way back.


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/


Windiciti



Dec 26, 2009, 7:48 PM

Post #2114 of 2662 (19776 views)
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Re: [pongo, jlgwriter] New decision [In reply to] Can't Post

Dear Jeanne and Pongo,
I think I will put it off for a year and see how I feel. Also, if my teaching jobs are satisfactory w/o an MFA, I might just take local and relatively cheap advanced writing workshops.
Today a good friend told me the truth as he sees it, "You don't need another degree --- just free what is inside you and write about it."
So I will try.
Gracias amigos!


jaywalke


Dec 27, 2009, 10:09 AM

Post #2115 of 2662 (19734 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] New decision [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Take a look at Queens as well. They specifically state on their website:

___________________________
"The Queens MFA program is a studio arts program. All four semesters of course work are devoted to creative writing.

Does Queens require a semester-long critical project?

No. For any writer—and perhaps especially students in low-residency programs—the time to write is precious and often secured at great cost. Four semesters, two years, is not a long time. We want you to spend as much of that time as possible on your own work.

What are the critical requirements in the Queens MFA programs?

All students must read between 12 to 15 books each semester in preparation for seminars at residencies and must write regular response papers for seminars.

All graduating students must design and present a craft seminar to their fellow students at the graduating residency. In preparation for this seminar, all graduating students must compose a critical essay that explores in depth the topic to be discussed at the seminar.

Within our workshop system, all students will write between 12 and 18 formal critiques of their colleagues’ work each semester."
__________________

I graduate in two weeks, so if you have any questions, fire away.

jaywalke


Windiciti



Dec 27, 2009, 3:24 PM

Post #2116 of 2662 (19698 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] New decision [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you so much for your response.
Although Queens was not picked as one of the 5 besr by the Atlantic Mag. in 2007, it sounds great for me.
BTW I love Naheem Murr, and he taught at NU but I could never get into his class here!
Have you worked w/him if you are a Fiction writer?
Happy New Year!


jaywalke


Dec 28, 2009, 1:04 PM

Post #2117 of 2662 (19647 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] New decision [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Thank you so much for your response.
Although Queens was not picked as one of the 5 besr by the Atlantic Mag. in 2007, it sounds great for me.
BTW I love Naeem Murr, and he taught at NU but I could never get into his class here!
Have you worked w/him if you are a Fiction writer?
Happy New Year!


I think you and I have discussed Naeem before, here: http://www.pw.org/speakeasy/gforum.cgi?post=284157;#284157

I have worked with him, and it was great.


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Dec 30, 2009, 11:05 AM

Post #2118 of 2662 (19574 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] New decision [In reply to] Can't Post

loved my time at Queens :)
right balance of reading and writing.

Went through poetry!!


http://jessiecarty.com


spiderland


Dec 31, 2009, 9:58 AM

Post #2119 of 2662 (19501 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hold up - Bennington's reading requirements isn't much different than any other (low-res) program. No matter where you go, you'll probably have to read anywhere from 10 to 25 books per term and write annotations or papers on some of those readings. This is in addition to your own creative writing. Yeah, Bennington's advertising motto might be "read 100 books ..." but the same applies to most other MFA programs (maybe it's a little bit less, maybe it's a little bit more). Of course, the readings are geared towards helping you with your own writing, so despite this requirement, it's a good thing.

I'm currently at Bennington right now and it's fantastic. Of course, I have yet to read a negative comment about any low-res programs in general (it seems like everyone loves his/her respective school), so you'll probably be happy with any of your choices. However to dismiss Bennington due to the reading requirement is unfair, in my opinion. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding it. I see you're in the Chicago area as well, so I can give some comment on the low-res vs. local full-res schools when I applied.


__________



Dec 31, 2009, 4:56 PM

Post #2120 of 2662 (19467 views)
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Re: [spiderland] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Ooh -- would you mind posting your reading list?


six five four three two one 0 ->


umass76


Jan 1, 2010, 5:32 PM

Post #2121 of 2662 (19405 views)
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FWIW [In reply to] Can't Post

Rankings for low-residency MFA programs.

Enough people (including, in a roundabout way, AWP) asked for these that I've now released what I've got.

Best of luck to everyone,
S.


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Jan 6, 2010, 8:29 AM

Post #2122 of 2662 (19270 views)
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Re: [umass76] FWIW [In reply to] Can't Post

interesting list. crazy how i haven't actually heard of some of the schools even though i did a low-res program!

thanks for sharing :)


http://jessiecarty.com


coffeehound


Jan 26, 2010, 1:22 PM

Post #2123 of 2662 (19037 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll delurk--just heard that I've been accepted to VC starting this summer (fiction). This forum has been a great resource, so thanks, all.

Now I'm wondering if I should still go ahead and send in that other app. . .

Cheers,

Coffeehound


wendybird


Feb 4, 2010, 9:18 PM

Post #2124 of 2662 (18904 views)
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Re: [coffeehound] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey Coffeehound, I was just accepted to VC for fiction! Who knows, maybe I'll see you there! (it's early yet for a final decision though...) I hear great things about the program...

~Wendy~


coffeehound


Feb 5, 2010, 2:35 PM

Post #2125 of 2662 (18859 views)
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Re: [wendybird] Anyone Heard? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Wendy,

Congrats! Like you, I've heard tremendous things about the program and have gotten excellent feedback from alums.

Feel free to send me a private message if you'd like more specifics.

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