September/October 2013

Our seventh annual MFA Issue features a roundup of 104 full- and low-residency programs; plus profiles of National Book Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward and novelist Rick Bass; an extensive interview with Knopf editor Jordan Pavlin; articles on the art of reading poet Rosmarie Waldrop and the beauty of backstory; advice from agent Lucy Carson; and much more. 


Imagination Is Not a Straight Line: A Profile of Rick Bass

by Michael Washburn
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In his nonfiction Rick Bass writes with a destination, but In his fiction, including the new novel, All the Land to Hold Us, he throws away the map and heads off into the wilderness, deep in the Yaak Valley of Montana.

Special Section

2014 MFA Index

by Staff
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A roundup of 78 leading full-residency programs, including a comparative look at funding, student-faculty ratio, job placement, and more; plus a roundup of 26 leading low-residency programs.

A Crapshoot You Can Bet On: The Psychology of Applying to MFA Programs

by Benjamin Hedin
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If you are applying to MFA programs this fall, what should you believe once e-mails and phone calls informing you of your fate start rolling in? Can the decision be dismissed as having nothing incontroverible to say about your promise as a writer,...

From Corporate to Creative: Leaving a Career to Pursue an MFA

by Laura Maylene Walter
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A survey of writers, including the author herself, who left established careers to earn an MFA in creative writing.

Degrees of Value: What Happens After the MFA Program?

by Michael Bourne
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Contributing editor Michael Bourne reconnects with eight former classmates from the MFA program at San Francisco State University to see where the degree has taken them.

The Aha! Moment: Wendy Rawlings of the MFA program at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa

by Michael Bourne
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In this continuing series, an MFA program director reveals which details and devices caught her eye in the personal statement of a recently admitted student.

News and Trends

Literary MagNet

by Travis Kurowski

Literary MagNet chronicles the start-ups and closures, successes and failures, anniversaries and accolades, changes of editorship and special issues—in short, the news and trends—of literary magazines in America. This issue's MagNet features Salmagundi, the Threepenny Review, Georgia Review, and Image. 

Small Press Points

by Staff

Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features A Strange Object, which publishes works of fiction in both print and digital editions from its headquarters in Austin, Texas.  

The Practical Writer

Lessons From the Hothouse: What Writers Can Learn from the History of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

by Boris Kachka
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A contributing editor of New York magazine whose new book, Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, was published in...

Make Your Mark: The Writer's Guide to Trademark

by Kate Hopper
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The author most recently of the memoir Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood, published in September by the University of Minnesota Press, Kate Hopper discusses the importance of trademarking one's work to keep it protected.

The Literary Life

I Wasn’t Born Yesterday: The Beauty of Backstory

by Eleanor Henderson

Novelist Eleanor Henderson discusses the beauty and necessity of backstory in fiction, offering a counterpoint to a previously published article in which novelist Benjamin Percy warned writers about the dangers of backstory.


The Art of Reading Rosmarie Waldrop: Language in Motion

by Susannah Lawrence
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An experimental poet with more than twenty books of poetry to her name, Rosmarie Waldrop has always been interested in the way language works and in the lacunae within language where silence shows through.

Why We Write: A Topic Too Risky

by Tracy Strauss
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Memoirist Tracy Strauss explains how writing honestly about trauma has allowed her to not only process her childhood sexual abuse, but to better understand life. 

Where We Write: Detroit, Michigan

by francine j. harris
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In the first of a new series about the places and communities that writers call home, poet francine j. harris wrestles with regionalism, her native Detroit, and the midwestern landscape of Michigan.