September/October 2017

Our annual MFA Issue features a special section on graduate programs in creative writing, including a comprehensive index of more than 200 full- and low-residency MFA programs; an interview with Salman Rushdie on his new novel, The Golden House; a conversation between poets Dawn Lundy Martin and Nicole Sealey; a Q&A with Lena Dunham on her new book imprint; a look at the best debut literary nonfiction of 2017; more than 110 upcoming contest deadlines; and more.


The Unknown Yet Inevitable: Debut Literary Nonfiction of 2017

by Melissa Faliveno
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A look at some of the year’s best debut literary nonfiction by Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Venegas, Mike Scalise, Jeannie Vanasco, Durga Chew-Bose, and Thomas Mira y Lopez.

Epic: An Interview With Salman Rushdie

by Porochista Khakpour

Salman Rushdie’s new novel, The Golden House, marks a triumphant return to realism for the titan of letters whose insights on everything from novel-writing and magical realism to identity and social media are as fascinating as the worlds he creates in his books.

Special Section

Advice to MFA Applicants: Ten Points to Consider Before Applying

by Staff
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Do some financial planning, head to the library, research locations, and ask around—ten tips to consider before you apply to a graduate writing program. 

The Intangibles: MFA Takeaways That Can’t Be Measured

by Staff
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MFA graduates from around the country share the valuable skills, experiences, and other intangible benefits they took away from their MFA programs.

Consider the Novella: Making the Case for a New Workshop Model

by Douglas Trevor
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While most MFA fiction workshops focus on short stories, the director of the creative writing MFA program at the University of Michigan proposes a different form on which to focus: the novella.

Flood Is Water: On Leaving an MFA Program

by Kima Jones
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A writer and publishing professional reflects on her decision to leave an MFA program, and how academic and workshop language can be used to reify the invisible structures that suppress marginalized communities.

The Road Less Traveled: Making It Without an MFA

by Thomas Mullen
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No MFA? No problem. A novelist shares his journey to publication—and becoming a successful full-time writer—without attending a graduate writing program.

News and Trends

Q&A: Lena Dunham’s Lenny Imprint

by Kevin Larimer

Girls creator Lena Dunham discusses her new feminist book imprint, Lenny Books, and its first title, Sour Heart, the debut story collection by Jenny Zhang. 


The Practical Writer

First: Javier Zamora’s Unaccompanied and Erika L. Sánchez’s Lessons on Expulsion

by Rigoberto González
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Poets Javier Zamora and Erika L. Sánchez, both from immigrant families, experienced many hardships and uncertainties throughout their lives. Now, with the publication of their debut collections, they consider their stories, successes, and chosen...

Selling Your Second Book: Warnings and Reassurances

by Chloe Benjamin
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Once you publish your first book, what’s in store for the next? A novelist offers advice she gleaned from her experiences publishing her second book, and dispels a few myths.

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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Quoth “The Raven” for inspiration, compose a campus story, or petition for your own state beverage—three prompts to carry you through the fall. 

Patience and Memoir: The Time it Takes to Tell Your Story

by Joyce Maynard
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It took Joyce Maynard twenty-five years of reflection, distance, and understanding before she was able to write her first memoir. But when tragedy struck later in life, her second memoir came much more quickly. 

Why We Write: With Deepest Gratitude

by Nancy Mendez-Booth
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After the death of her son, a writer copes with immeasurable loss and grief through a daily practice: writing more than two hundred thank-you notes.