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alefti42


Jan 5, 2005, 9:39 PM

Post #1 of 18 (5281 views)
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summer programs Can't Post

I had considered trying to jump straight from my undergraduate studies into an MFA program but decided that I'd rather take a year or two off from school first. I received some very good advice from a prof. who told me that I should wait until I absolutely felt the need to commit myself to writing for two or three years (or however long the program is). Anyway, I thought that it would be a good idea to apply to some summer workshop programs. I've heard of bread loaf and have been told that, in addition to being highly competitive, it can amount to one week of aggressive vying for face time with publishers and authors. I could be wrong, as this was only what was passed on to me from someone who had known people in the program years ago. So my question is: has anyone heard of, or participated in, a program that they would recommend?


arielblue
Library Anne

Jan 5, 2005, 11:11 PM

Post #2 of 18 (5276 views)
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Re: [alefti42] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

You may also want to ask over in the "Conferences, Colonies and Retreats" topic.

I've had good experiences at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, the Split Rock Arts Program, and the Indiana University Writers' Conference and would recommend them all -- but each program was a very different experience, so it pays off to spend some time thinking about what you want from a summer workshop. Do you want to have a Famous Writer critique your existing work? Do you mainly want to schmooze and network? Do you want to generate new work and have time in the evenings to get a lot of writing done? Do you want a workshop with fellow students who are working at a level similar to your own, or would you find it energizing to spend a week with writers at all levels from beginner to published? You can find summer workshops that will give you any of those things, but if what you want is to generate new work and you end up at a workshop where you have very little free time for all the social activities and the workshop time is spent critiquing the manuscript you submitted months ago (for example), you'll probably be disappointed.

This summer I'll be taking a workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA and I imagine it will be different from Iowa, Split Rock, and Indiana. I've heard very very good things about the program though.

For what it's worth, I found the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and Split Rock to be extremely cooperative and non-competitive, with a lot of bonding among fellow students. Indiana attracts a lot of MFA students picking up a few extra credit hours in the summer, so it has a bit of a different "feel" to it, plus the schedule is such that I've never had much time to work on new material during the week -- but that doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed it.


alefti42


Jan 6, 2005, 12:13 AM

Post #3 of 18 (5272 views)
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Re: [arielblue] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks. I didn't even know what kind of questions I should be asking myself while searching. I guess I'd probably be looking for the type of workshop that would help me generate new work. I will be enrolled in my senior workshop this spring, and I always find it difficult to get started again after a semester's worth of completed work.


arielblue
Library Anne

Jan 6, 2005, 12:32 AM

Post #4 of 18 (5269 views)
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Re: [alefti42] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Cool, that gives you a good starting place then. In that case I probably wouldn't recommend Indiana to you (although two summers ago I did write an entire sestina in between classes -- but that's the only time I've ever done much writing during that particular conference, and I've attended three times now), but you'd probably find something to your liking at Iowa or Split Rock or the Fine Arts Work Center (or probably any of several other programs as well). Send off for their catalogs and read the workshop descriptions carefully -- there are some amazing workshop experiences to be had!


elli
Ellen Meeropol

e-mail user

Jan 6, 2005, 4:40 PM

Post #5 of 18 (5239 views)
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Re: [alefti42] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I've attended summer programs at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, and the Stonecoast Writers Conference in Freeport, Maine. Both use small groups (10-16 or so) to workshop material submitted for group discussion, and that's usually 3 hours in the morning or afternoon. The rest of the day is free, for writing or recreation, and there are evening readings by the faculty. Both programs were terrific, and helpful in getting me ready and clear about an MFA.


Ellen

www.ellenmeeropol.com


alefti42


Jan 6, 2005, 5:44 PM

Post #6 of 18 (5231 views)
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Re: [elli] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Is the stonecoast program a summer workshop or is it part of their low-residency mfa. I can't seem to find a web site with information specifically referring to a summer conference


fermat


Jan 6, 2005, 6:59 PM

Post #7 of 18 (5226 views)
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Re: [alefti42] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Are you a poet or fiction writer? If the former, consider the Napa Valley Writer's Conference. You write a poem a day for five days; it's geared toward generating new poems. And you can't beat the location and the wine.


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jan 6, 2005, 8:21 PM

Post #8 of 18 (5222 views)
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Re: [alefti42] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Might I recommend the Keene State College Writers Conference in Keene, NH? It is held during the summer and can be taken for continuing ed, undergraduate, or graduate credit. This coming summer will be the third time in session. I have been there the past two years and had a rewarding experience both times, more so the second time around. Each writer has his/her manuscript worked on in a workshop setting; they deal fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. There are readings by faculty, as well as lectures and plenty of time to write and generate new material. Guest faculty have included Ellen Lesser, from the MFA program at Vermont College, and Jack Driscoll, from Stonecoast MFA. At the conclusion of the conference there each participant reads some of their work.

As a result of the conference, and my continued work in fiction, I was accepted into two MFA programs. I start at Vermont in summer 2005.

Darren


elli
Ellen Meeropol

e-mail user

Jan 6, 2005, 8:47 PM

Post #9 of 18 (5221 views)
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Re: [alefti42] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

The Stonecoast Writers' Conference is a summer program, associated with the Univ of Southern Maine. The Stonecoast MFA grew out of the summer program, but the two are separate. Many people (including me) started at the summer conference and then applied for the MFA program. But the conference has been in existence 25 years or so, and is independent of the graduate program. Their web site is usually updated in January or February; I would try them at: http://www.usm.maine.edu/summer/stonecoast.htm.


Ellen

www.ellenmeeropol.com


lillyl


Jan 6, 2005, 11:56 PM

Post #10 of 18 (5212 views)
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Re: [alefti42] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Are you already done with your undergrad degree, or are you still doing it? If you are still in school, I definitely recommend The Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.
http://www.bucknell.edu/...r_Younger_Poets.html

It's an absolutely amazing program that I attended last summer. I got a lot of writing done, got to do workshops with well-known poets, and I got to spend time with some amazing people. It's free too-- you only have to pay for your transportation. Food is provided, though you'll probably get sick of the cafeteria fare very soon.


alefti42


Jan 8, 2005, 3:11 PM

Post #11 of 18 (5175 views)
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Re: [ltrent] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Certainly a lot to investigate. I should have mentioned that I'm looking for fiction workshops, and that I will no longer be considered an undergraduate this summer. Thanks for all the help.


ejdifili
Emily

Oct 17, 2007, 4:15 PM

Post #12 of 18 (5038 views)
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Re: [alefti42] summer programs [In reply to] Can't Post

No one has posted on this thread for a while, and though it's not exactly the season to be thinking about summer programs, I thought I'd offer my two cents anyway.

I had an amazing experience this year at the 7-week Summer Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. Fortunately, I am a high school teacher and thus had 2 months off to move to Iowa City. If you can't swing this, though, there are shorter programs there as part of the Writing Festival or whatever, but I don't know very much about those. Also, keep in mind that you have to apply and get accepted to the 7-week workshop, whereas I think you can just sign up for the shorter programs.

I am currently in the process of applying to MFA programs, and I think the summer workshop really helped me along toward this goal in various ways. First of all, I had 7 weeks to focus exclusively on writing and to be inspired by my fellow classmates. I found that being part of a community of writers really helped to motivate my work. That is, I think I accomplished much more in the context of the workshop than I would have at home, surrounded by family distractions, etc. The workshop itself was also very worthwhile--I got a lot of good feedback. Finally, I also met many people who were currently involved in MFA programs--both at Iowa and elsewhere--and got a lot of useful input regarding both the application process and the graduate experience.

Furthermore, Iowa is relatively inexpensive. I think tuition for the course was something like $800, and I dropped about a total of $900 for rent while I was there. And the cost of living in Iowa City, as one might expect, isn't that high. In other words, it's way cheaper than to trying to spend summer in New York City or something.

I was also fortunate to become good friends with most of the members of our workshop; we spent a lot of time hanging out together. We really had a blast in Iowa City, believe it or not. A night out on the town there can cost you next to nothing.

In summation, I enrolled in the Iowa Summer Workshop because I knew it would help my writing. In the end, it was actually a far more enjoyable experience than I could have ever imagined.


earthgirl


Apr 1, 2010, 5:20 PM

Post #13 of 18 (4631 views)
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Summer programs - helpful? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi all, I need some advice! (sorry for rehashing the old thread but I can't post a new topic in here!)

I'm considering applying for an MFA for the 2011 cycle. I am not a traditional candidate (although, is there such a thing?). I haven't been published (haven't tried, either), I didn't major in liberal arts, I'm working in a mundane job. I took a couple of fiction classes in college, but that's the end of my writing experience in a classroom.

The main problem with applying for an MFA: I also am in need of another recommendation. (I only have two, most schools need three). I graduated college a while ago, and like I said - I didn't major in liberal arts.

Another problem: complete and utter lack of confidence in my writing.

What I thought was the solution: The Iowa Summer Graduate Workshop. I thought I could muster up some confidence, refresh the analytical writer skill set, and get a recommendation out of it.

But now, I'm realizing that it is expensive. And it's probably VERY presumptive to assume I can get a recommendation out of it.

And back to being expensive: Not only do I have to pack up and move a thousand miles away, but it's for TWO months. Two months of no income. That's a huge deal.

My question - is it worth it? Or should I just sign up for a local writing class (those 300-500 dollar ones that are usually taught by an MFA student over the summer).

Another question - should I bother feeling like acceptance to the summer program means anything? Can I assume that my writing totally doesn't suck? Or, do they accept anyone who can put a crayon on a piece of paper?


renila


Apr 1, 2010, 6:24 PM

Post #14 of 18 (4614 views)
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Re: [earthgirl] Summer programs - helpful? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's too late to apply to the Iowa Summer Graduate Workshop for this year, but there are tons of other conferences out there -- including the Iowa Summer Writing Festival -- which is not affiliated with IWW (although many of the teachers graduated from there). ISWF can be great, depending on the instructor -- look for a more advanced class description if you want the quality of your classmate to be higher. Otherwise, apply to one of the more restricted summer programs that are still accepting applications, if you want a higher level of classmate.

I know tons of people who have gotten recs out of summer workshops.

Depending on where you live, there are lots of good places with ongoing workshops. My UCLA extension instructor has sent classmates of mine to UCI, UCSD, UC Riverside and Mills College, I believe, among others, in the last few years. A classmate of mine from years ago at Iowa Summer Writing Festival is in at the IWW.

Depends on how much money you can afford to put in and where you're situated.

That said, they say both recs don't need to be from creative writing instructors, but a workshop could help you polish your sample. It's competive out there.


earthgirl


Apr 1, 2010, 7:01 PM

Post #15 of 18 (4600 views)
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Re: [renila] Summer programs - helpful? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for responding, renila!

To clarify - I have been admitted to the Iowa Summer Grad Workshop. I'm trying to decide whether or not to go, because it's such a major expense and I wanted to know if I could get a comparable experience at a local workshop here in my home city (no requirements to get in, around 400 bucks).

I think you made an excellent point about the caliber of classmates - I totally forgot that the workshop experience depends on that. Like I said, it's been a while!

Thanks for the advice about the University extension classes. I will look into more options in my city and keep comparing.

Re: LORs- The two recs I have now are not from CW instructors, so that's why I *thought* I should get one from a CW instructor, instead of my boss right now (who happens to have made it evident that he is not in favor my quitting. So I'm hesitant about asking him.)


renila


Apr 1, 2010, 7:18 PM

Post #16 of 18 (4594 views)
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Re: [earthgirl] Summer programs - helpful? [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, good for you for getting in, then!

I'm going to say having at least one rec from a creative writing instructor would help -- even though the writing sample is the by the far the most important thing for applications.

And a good workshop may help you figure out where your sample's at in terms of readiness.


earthgirl


Apr 2, 2010, 10:42 AM

Post #17 of 18 (4508 views)
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Re: [renila] Summer programs - helpful? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks again for responding, Renila -

I think you hit the nail on the head w/ your point about my sample readiness... A good workshop would probably be better for this than a local leisure learning class.

I'm still looking for some University-level options near-by though. I still can't get around the expense issue.


spamela


Apr 2, 2010, 3:18 PM

Post #18 of 18 (4466 views)
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Re: [earthgirl] Summer programs - helpful? [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember having a similar problem before applying to MFAs back in 2000. I think I ended up with either one or two rec letters from a past and a current boss and only one from a CW teacher. Things seem to be a bit more competitive now (read: the heavy increase in applications in the last decade), but I think having a letter of rec from someone who knows you well professionally and likes you a lot and can speak to your work ethic and intelligence, even if it's not in a CW capacity, may be just fine. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Speakeasiers)

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