Our annual MFA issue features an in-depth look at the MFA in flux, including reports on how programs are adapting to COVID-19, the rise of the online degree, reimagining power in the creative writing workshop, what happens when a low-residency program closes, and a call for systemic change in the literary arts; an interview with poet Nate Marshall on his second collection, Finna; Aimee Nezhukumatathil in conversation with Ross Gay about her new essay collection, World of Wonders; playwright Ayad Akhtar on his new novel, Homeland Elegies; letters from writers of the Black literary community; a Q&A with critic Ismail Muhammad; the art of the author photograph; how social media affects the creative process; writing prompts; and more.
Transformation: A Q&A With Nate Marshall
In his second poetry collection, Finna, Nate Marshall explores the failures and triumphs of language, the power of community, and abolition as a poetic praxis.
Truth: A Q&A With Ayad Akhtar
In Homeland Elegies, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar blurs the line between fact and fiction in an attempt to reclaim the novel.
Eleven writers pen letters addressed to fellow Black writers, to their ancestors, to gatekeepers, to members of the media, and to allies, among others.
In her new essay collection, World of Wonders, poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil turns her creative powers of attention, play, openness, and love to a world of magic and imagination outdoors.
MFA Programs in the Time of COVID-19: Writers, Teachers, and Administrators Plan for a New Normal
Directors of full- and low-residency MFA programs share how they are adapting to the unpredictable course of the pandemic, finding new ways to teach and connect, and planning for the future.
Online MFA Programs: The Hidden Benefits of the No-Residency Option
Teachers and students at online MFA programs reveal the financial and lifestyle upsides of the no-residency format.
The End of an MFA: What Happens When a Low-Residency Program Closes?
The author chronicles the closing of her low-residency MFA program and outlines the potential of the low-residency model and the steps programs must take to survive.
Starting Out in an MFA Program? Here Are Ten Tips for Getting the Most Out of It
A teacher and two-time director of a creative writing graduate program offers advice to incoming MFA students on how to take advantage of opportunities and cultivate good writing habits.
The author describes creating a community-driven workshop where students are not asked to check their politics and identities at the door, and offers a series of questions for instructors to ask themselves before leading a class.
The author considers how race is discussed in MFA versus literature PhD programs and argues that the MFA—and the literary culture and community it props up—is due for a reevaluation.
News and Trends
The #PublishingPaidMe hashtag highlights anti-Black bias within the publishing industry and opens up the conversation about how editors determine book advances.
The first lines of twelve noteworthy books, including Just Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankine and Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi.
A growing number of creative writing graduate programs in the United States offer dedicated spaces for students to learn and write in Spanish.
Four new anthologies, including We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics and Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction.
The Milwaukee press releases twelve books of poetry, fiction, drama, art, and comics a year and focuses on publishing writers without MFAs or literary connections.
The poet and essayist on her approach to publishing in literary journals and her path to writing her debut poetry collection, Un-American.
Using a unique fabrication process, Julie Chen constructs beautiful and inventive artists’ books that explore metaphysical ideas.
The owner of the recently opened Harriett’s Bookshop, which specializes in the work of Black and women authors, talks about the arts as a tool for social change and her vision for the store.
The Practical Writer
The Art of the Author Photo: How to Make a Lasting Image
The author interviews photographers, writers, and publicists on what makes a good author photo and how writers can create a portrait on their own terms.
The critic on combining book reviews and cultural criticism, exposing readers to challenging views, and reading multiple books at once.
The Literary Life
Why We Write: And Why We Stop
The author relates how becoming a father helped him find peace in not writing and deepen his understanding of what drives writers to the page.
The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises
Write a series of poems that acts as a family album, a short story with an apocalyptic premise, or a personal essay about a time when a dramatic event caused a shift in your life.
The effects of social media on the creative process—although it can help writers identify and pay attention to the quotidian moments of their lives, does it siphon off their storytelling energy?