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motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
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Jul 30, 2008, 12:23 PM

Post #1 of 10 (7031 views)
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Vanderbilt University MFA Can't Post

This topic is for discussions about Vanderbilt University's MFA program.

"Vanderbilt University is an internationally recognized research university in Nashville, Tennessee, with strong partnerships among its 10 schools, neighboring institutions and the community. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education and human development, as well as a full range of graduate and professional degrees."

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NickMcRae
Nick McRae

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Jul 30, 2008, 11:40 PM

Post #2 of 10 (6975 views)
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Re: [motet] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Is there anyone on here with insight into or perhaps inside information about the Vanderbilt program? I am applying this year (as I'm sure are many others) for poetry. Anyone in-the-know please feel free to respond to this impromptu list of questions:

1. What are the faculty members like? Do they take a personal interest in their students? Are they easily accessible and approachable?

2. What is the community atmosphere like within the program?

3. How is the Nashville literary scene?

4. Is the stipend adequate to cover living expenses in Nashville? How expensive is it to live in Nashville anyway?

5. What kind of training do Teaching Assistants receive?

If you have other questions, feel free to add those as well! Thanks in advance.

NM


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


pongo
Buy this book!

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Jul 31, 2008, 1:50 PM

Post #3 of 10 (6933 views)
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Re: [NickMcRae] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't specifically know the MFA program from the inside, but I did teach at Vandy for one semester, so I can answer some of your questions.


In Reply To
Is there anyone on here with insight into or perhaps inside information about the Vanderbilt program? I am applying this year (as I'm sure are many others) for poetry. Anyone in-the-know please feel free to respond to this impromptu list of questions:

1. What are the faculty members like? Do they take a personal interest in their students? Are they easily accessible and approachable?


I went up to Mark Jarman a couple of times, as very junior faculty (and a very junior poet), to ask advice, and he was very helpful. I met Beth Daniels once, and she seemed nice, but we didn't talk about anything substantive. I spoke to a few of the MFA students a few times, and they seemed pretty happy with the support they were getting from faculty.

In Reply To

3. How is the Nashville literary scene?

Nashville is a town where "writer" means someone with a guitar. There's a substantial literary tradition in town, mostly centered on Vanderbilt (the Fugitive poets and so on), but you won't find a lot of open mic nights for poets, for example. There isn't a thriving underground publishing scene. There is a major publishing industry, but it's all Christian publishing except for a few minor outliers.

That doesn't mean it isn't possible to find a literary community, but it does mean that you'll need some effort and some luck to put one together for yourself.


In Reply To
4. Is the stipend adequate to cover living expenses in Nashville? How expensive is it to live in Nashville anyway?


Nasvhille is one of the cheapest cities in the country to live in. I had an offer for a job near Philadelphia, and I couldn't afford to take it, since the cost of living was so much higher -- nearly twice that of Nashville. Gas at my local station, as of yesterday, was $3.699.

In Reply To

5. What kind of training do Teaching Assistants receive?

If you have other questions, feel free to add those as well! Thanks in advance.

NM


I'll add that the music scene here is better than its reputation. The symphony is ready for a breakout to major league status (and I used to live in New York, so I have a basis for comparison), and there is good jazz and rock all over the place.

The food is terrific if you like barbecue, and otherwise not so great. If you love Chinese food, you might want to go someplace else.

However, I loved the atmosphere at Vanderbilt. They take seriously their identity as a research university, and people sympathized with me for my terrible teaching overload -- three classes with a total of 43 students. They run a pretty decent litmag, which I assume the MFA students are involved with (but I don't know for certain). The athletic teams are supported, but not privileged. Even star athletes are expected to do their work.


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/


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

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Sep 24, 2008, 9:01 PM

Post #4 of 10 (6805 views)
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Re: [pongo] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

A very belated thanks for your response. I currently live on the outskirts of the Metro Atlanta area, and I grew up in the shadow (albeit a small shadow) of Chattanooga, so I can confirm the relative low cost of living in the Tennessee Valley and surrounding areas.

And I can relate to your comment about the food. Being a native, I'm just about as happy eating barbeque and southern home-style cooking as anything else. I don't expect Nashville to rival Atlanta's culinary spectrum (which still, compared to NYC, is pretty narrow). In fact, while being near Atlanta sometimes has its perks (relatively decent art and literary scene), there are also drawbacks. Like its massive population, traffic, and urban/suburban sprawl. I mean MASSIVE (for this part of the country, at least). If you've ever spent much time in Atlanta, you know what I mean. I live an hour to the west, and merely being in its shadow sometimes freaks me out. Maybe that's just the farm-boy in me talking. Nonetheless, even with my limited first-hand knowledge of Nashville, I'd rather live there than in Atlanta any day.

Also, I was recently lucky enough to attend the first Poetry@Tech reading of the semester--which featured, among others, Mark Jarman. He read from his new book, which is excellent, and was very nice when I spoke with him afterward. I am thoroughly encouraged.

Thanks again, Pongo, for the thoughtful response. Anyone else with any information or questions about Nashville and Vandy, feel free to chime in.


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


v1ctorya


Nov 24, 2008, 2:36 PM

Post #5 of 10 (6623 views)
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Re: [motet] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

*ahem*

Am I the only one who can't find the little button to official submit my application?

I can check the status of it, and see where it says 'officially submitted' it says no, but can't for the life of me see the little thing to press to submit it! anyone else have this issue?


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Nov 24, 2008, 11:20 PM

Post #6 of 10 (6568 views)
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Re: [v1ctorya] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't remember the button as being hard to find, though I don't recall where it was on the page either. Sorry I can't really be of any help :(

If it comes down to it, though, you can always e-mail them about it. They're really nice and responded very quickly to the couple of e-mails I sent them. Good luck!

NM


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


moonslice


Aug 14, 2011, 2:39 AM

Post #7 of 10 (5385 views)
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Re: [NickMcRae] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd like to wake up this topic.
Any graduates or current students care to respond about the workload, what it's like to help in the writing center and anything else that may be helpful?
How much should I stress about the GRE scores for Vanderbilt?


JoanneMerriam
Joanne Merriam


Aug 24, 2011, 8:26 PM

Post #8 of 10 (5289 views)
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Re: [NickMcRae] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't speak to the MFA program, but I will be starting the MLAS (which is a part-time graduate program) next summer. I've found Mark Jarman and Kate Daniels both to be approachable and helpful. I already live in Nashville and have since July 2009, and before that lived in neighbouring Murfreesboro for several years.
It's pretty cheap to live here compared to most places. I rent a very nice five-bedroom two-bathroom house with a huge backyard for $1025/month. You can go a lot cheaper than that if you share, and/or live outside Nashville proper. David's comments are all spot on, except I take exception to his suggestion that the only food worth eating here is barbeque. Yes, the Chinese food is terrible (really terrible, it's like there's a competition). However, for a city of its size (1.5 million I think) it punches above its weight in food options. Lots of good Mexican, Thai, soul food, yes barbeque, and breakfast/brunch type places, and one really good Turkish place. You can get decent (not world-changing, but decent) Greek, Indian and Ethiopian.
The Nashville literary scene is tiny and dwarfed by the music scene as David so astutely points out. There are a handful of places to do readings but nothing like most other cities of this size.


Editor: 7x20 * Upper Rubber Boot Books
Most recently: Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days (Atwood, Bacigalupi, JCO, etc.)

Writer: joannemerriam.com * The Glaze from Breaking (poetry)


moonslice


Aug 30, 2011, 3:16 AM

Post #9 of 10 (5217 views)
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Re: [JoanneMerriam] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi JoanneMerriam,
I am familiar with Nashville, though I don't live there. I'm not familiar with MLAS. What exactly will you be studying?


JoanneMerriam
Joanne Merriam


Jan 22, 2012, 4:22 PM

Post #10 of 10 (4651 views)
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Re: [moonslice] Vanderbilt University MFA [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Hi JoanneMerriam,
I am familiar with Nashville, though I don't live there. I'm not familiar with MLAS. What exactly will you be studying?


They haven't announced the courses for the summer session yet, which is when I'd like to start. They have different streams, like "creative writing" is one, but you can take any of the courses outside your stream at any time. I'm not terribly interested in the non-creative-writing courses, not because they're not interesting, but because they're not eight hundred dollars interesting (which is the reduced tuition I'm paying since my employer picks up the other portion of the tutition). I expect I'll read some of the stuff from some of the courses I don't take, when they pique my interest, but to be worth the tuition money to me they have to be something that looks like it will improve my writing.

The MLAS is a good degree if you're looking to expand your horizons, or if you want to focus on a stream to improve your performance at your career. It doesn't, to me, appear to be a good idea for people who want to go on and teach; the MFA is much better for that. It's also very part-time - I will be taking a single course at a time. I'm psyched about it but it's not a replacement for an MFA.


Editor: 7x20 * Upper Rubber Boot Books
Most recently: Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days (Atwood, Bacigalupi, JCO, etc.)

Writer: joannemerriam.com * The Glaze from Breaking (poetry)

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