Jan 28, 2009, 1:49 PM
Post #102 of 165
In the case of Harty/Orringer, nepotism wasn't the word--the word (or phrase) was two-for-one. The fellowship was for one person, and they offered to share it, giving the department double for their money (and both are, in their own rights, very good writers: Orringer's won a Pushcart, among other things, and Harty has had a story in Best American). I'm not exactly sure how that would be nepotism. Nothing extra was paid out for them; instead, they offered the university a deal.
Re: [Junior Maas] reading list
[In reply to]
(And the Stegner thing seems suspicious until you find out that Harty got it first, then Orringer a year or two later (after having applied four-five times). I personally think that's less nepotism on the Stegner's part than an equally problematic predilection for writers already living in the bay area (both of them were already living in SF, and it seems a good portion (though not a majority, but noticeable enough) of the people who do get Stegners have SF roots). And the reason I say it seems less like nepotism once you find out the order they went--well, I like them both, and respect them both as writers and teachers, but we know who has the star power (at least for now) in that relationship.)
And as for "the guy who let his daughter in," from what I understand Delbanco never taught his daughter, nor took part in the decision on her admission. It certainly looks suspicious, but she's managed to publish a couple books and she won some of the MFA writing prizes (which are judged anonymously by outside readers), so she was able to pull her weight.
I don't mean to sound touchy about all this, but Michigan, in my own experience, has always struck me as a program that does it's best to guard against things like "nepotism" (which is a big part of what was going on in poetry search mentioned above--they hired the outsider). Also, I think as writers just starting out, we tend to assume too quickly that everything is stacked against us, and so apply that narrative too quickly (I've certainly been guilty of that) when really, things end up being a bit more haphazard (I imagine the slight SF predilection of the Stegner has less to do with some nefarious doings of the admissions committee than there being something about the writing community there that naturally meshes with whatever aesthetics the committee happens to prefer). Of course, there's no way to know that unless you get more info, and so I've provided what little I've got.