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Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014)
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Ellenia
Ellen E

Dec 19, 2014, 2:58 PM

Post #176 of 198 (9002 views)
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Re: [bluesgrass] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

I am here! Going through horrid cycles of thought that lead to: maybe I shouldn't be doing an MFA after all! And then ultimately, again: no, it is the only thing for me!

I am, last minute, as always, applying to:

University of New Orleans
University of Central Arkansas
Hunter College
maybe Tallahassee?

I can't even think about the money right now. I just want to see if I get in. Then I'll worry. (Actually I am worrying all the time...do I really want to move somewhere new? Is it really worth the money? Should I only go based on funding? And thus starts the cycle...) One thing at a time. I really didn't realize that applying is like a whole job unto itself. Sadly, I did this same thing for finishing undergrad, after taking four years off: finally decided I must finish and then made a quick decision, based on timing and money.

In the end, I want to focus my life on writing, and so....
Right now, I'm living in Brooklyn and have a job I like in Manhattan, although it has nothing to do whatsoever with writing. I dream of living in smaller towns (as evinced by my application list) and yet I'm also a bit scared of starting over in a new town (again-- I've moved so many times) and that's why Hunter is on my list, (as well as because I really liked the tone and plain-ness of the website, and Hunter's price.)

Anybody feel me out there!? Nice to relate to others on these board.



pongo
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Dec 19, 2014, 7:31 PM

Post #177 of 198 (8985 views)
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Re: [Ellenia] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

A job that has nothing to do with writing has many advantages. Consider how many of the great 20th Century writers worked in insurance or as mail carriers or whatever. When you get home, you aren't burnt out on words. It can be hard to do words all day at work, and then come home and do more words.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.


dahosek
D. A. Hosek
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Dec 22, 2014, 9:31 AM

Post #178 of 198 (8904 views)
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Re: [littlefoot] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

You might want to consider a low-res program if you'd like to keep your job for now. The chief downsides are (a) generally no funding and (b) generally no teaching opportunities. On the flip side, you get a much closer mentorship relationship than you would with a full-res program and it's good prep for balancing work, life and writing for after the MFA. You can most likely score a shot at at least one class as an adjunct (likely intro composition at a local community college) after you finish the MFA to address (b), but (a) is the bigger deal. I, for one, would not recommend going into a penny's worth of debt for an MFA. The payoff just isn't there (I was fortunate that when I decided to get mine, I had been saving up to take a year off from work so I had enough money to cover the whole cost of the degree in the bank already, but now my sabbatical year has been pushed deeper into the future). \

-dh


http://dahosek.com


mortimerkhan
Andrew Wright

May 27, 2015, 9:21 AM

Post #179 of 198 (6713 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

I was recently reading an article that mentioned how each MFA program has its own particular focus and style it likes to cultivate. The article listed a few specific examples, schools that were interested in social justice writing, or science fiction or experimental writing. While this may be common knowledge within certain circles, it's not something that is widely circulated and publicized. Rather, it's the sort of information that is passed around through word of mouth.

My question then is, knowing that each school has its own particular flavor, where are the schools with a more traditional, conservative approach to writing and little patience for politicized, identity writing?


ewoj
Eric Wojcik

Jun 1, 2015, 2:19 PM

Post #180 of 198 (6635 views)
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Re: [mortimerkhan] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

It may be an exaggeration to say each program has its own focus, but you're right -- if there is a focus, or a lean, to any program, it's often found by word of mouth. I'd also suggest contact schools directly should you find them otherwise interesting. I would think they'd be happy to answer that sort of question.

Otherwise, your question is a bit loaded. Indiana, for example, has a reputation for trying to fill out its cohorts with students of some diversity, while Iowa has a reputation for burnishing its students into a similar style of writing. Are those signs of a politicized department, in your eyes, or a one that is more traditional?


michellemarkowitz
Michelle Markowitz

Sep 8, 2015, 3:45 PM

Post #181 of 198 (4881 views)
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Re: [pongo] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Just wanted to pass along this piece from Fast Company interviewing MFAs, "Are MFAs Worth It?" http://www.fastcompany.com/3048256/most-creative-people/are-mfas-worth-it


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 8, 2015, 10:46 PM

Post #182 of 198 (4875 views)
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Re: [michellemarkowitz] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for posting the link. I read it. To me, it's nothing new. The situation is very much the same as with other liberal arts degrees where jobs are scarce, salaries low, etc.; or sometimes salaries are ok except that you can't find a job. I know people from the Ivy League who couldn't or can't find a job with all of their illustrious credentials.
I'd say that going to an MFA program with a sole purpose to teach college afterwards is risky, while going because you want to learn the craft is probably a good idea. On the other hand, if we look at the writers of old, none of them did that simply because the programs didn't exist at that time. Actually, not all of them went to college at all, or even to school, for that matter. Some were educated at home.
So the question that I am trying to answer for myself is, can you teach a person to write?


pongo
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Sep 9, 2015, 8:14 AM

Post #183 of 198 (4859 views)
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Re: [seniorfrog] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

You can teach some people to write, and some people can help almost everyone to be better writers.

Most of the pre-MFA writers had mentors of some sort, sometimes many mentors, who taught them craft and structure and, sometimes, art. So when we think of them, we should also think of their support systems, which for us are MFA or other programs. Wordsworth didn't go to Bread Load; instead, he hung out with his sister and Coleridge, and they workshopped each other's poems (although they wouldn't have called it that). And that was after they had been taught the basics of rhyme and meter in school -- it was part of the standard curriculum then, along with drawing and music.

Does this mean everyone needs an MFA? No, of course not. But each of us has to decide if it's right for us, and for some of us it's necessary. I wouldn't be where I am (geographically and in my writing career) if it hadn't been for the MFA. But I know plenty of good writers who don't have or need the academic training.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 11, 2015, 5:30 PM

Post #184 of 198 (4830 views)
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Re: [pongo] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, a writing mentor, or mentors, is a great idea. How does one get one/s?


pongo
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Sep 12, 2015, 12:42 PM

Post #185 of 198 (4817 views)
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Re: [seniorfrog] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, going to an MFA program is one way.

No, seriously, you spend time with writers. I count Bruce Smith and Tom Lux as mentors now because I've studied with them at summer workshops (Bruce at Colgate, Tom at Sarah Lawrence). So you study with someone, and sit down for a meal or a drink with them, and let them get to know you, and with luck you can call on them for other advice.

You can also write to authors you admire (ideally, people who live relatively nearby), and ask for some specific bit of advice. That might turn into a relationship. But you're looking to build relationships, not just parasitic ones.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 12, 2015, 5:23 PM

Post #186 of 198 (4811 views)
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Re: [pongo] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Not parasitic ones, I understand, but how can I reciprocate? I can't advise them; they're accomplished writers. Do I offer to pay for their meals?:))


pongo
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Sep 12, 2015, 5:33 PM

Post #187 of 198 (4809 views)
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Re: [seniorfrog] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Buy the drinks occasionally. Sure, pay for the meals. Be a friend.

There are probably some people who will mentor for a fee, of course. And the people who teach at summer workshops are being paid for that. But there's a lot of pleasure in helping talented writers make the most of their potential, and many writers are willing to pay it forward in this way. Someone helped them once, so they repay that by helping someone else. The reward is in the good work you produce, and in the people you, in turn, help.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.


theorange
Akilesh Ayyar

Sep 13, 2015, 4:24 PM

Post #188 of 198 (4770 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

Are there any good MFA programs for someone who doesn't like the sort of Hemingway/Raymond Carver realism and minimalism that seems to be endemic among MFA programs and contemporary literature more broadly?
More importantly, do there exist programs that would prize Proust, Ruskin, Emerson, Faulkner, and Melville, and would value baroque, metaphorical, and unashamedly psychological writing styles in their students' work?


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 13, 2015, 11:57 PM

Post #189 of 198 (4749 views)
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Re: [theorange] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

Please, if you find a program like that, would you please let me know? Pretty please:)


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 14, 2015, 12:00 AM

Post #190 of 198 (4746 views)
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Re: [pongo] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I guess I would have to try and find writers who I like in my area, and that's an undertaking. Thank you!


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 14, 2015, 12:26 AM

Post #191 of 198 (4742 views)
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Re: [dahosek] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

On the flip side, you get a much closer mentorship relationship than you would with a full-res program
Why do you get a much closer mentorship relationship in a low-res program if you're not even on campus? How does that work?
Thank you.


pongo
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Sep 14, 2015, 8:18 AM

Post #192 of 198 (4728 views)
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Re: [seniorfrog] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Writers don't have to be in your area to be mentors. You can meet them at workshops, or literary festivals (for example, we have the Southern Festival of Books coming up, which brings people in from all over), or readings.

They don't have to be famous, either; a teacher at the local community college might work for you, and you can take a course. Even local extension programs offer courses -- I teach poetry through Nashville Community Education, although no one has yet tried to develop a mentorship relationship.

And they don't have to be people whose work you like especially. I did a workshop with Mary Jo Bang, whose poetry I find mostly incomprehensible, but I still learned a lot from her. You want good teachers, who may or may not be the best writers around, or the writers most like you.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 22, 2015, 10:06 PM

Post #193 of 198 (4402 views)
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Re: [pongo] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll try to develop some relationships like that but it's so hard. I tried to join a writers' group in my area but they didn't take me, and another time I replied to an ad for a writing group in my local library and one old man showed up. He gave me his story to read and as I read it, I realized it was porn. So I informed the old geezer that I don't read, write or critique pornography and that was the end of it. A long time ago, I took a creative writing class at our local community college and oh my! Our first assignment was to choose a book already written and analyze its conflict. I chose "All Quiet on the Western Front", and the instructor said she'd never heard about it. I just couldn't believe it. At least my job paid my tuition.
What do you think about creative writing courses through adult and continuing education? We have here Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, which both offer those. Perhaps some other schools do too.


pongo
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Sep 22, 2015, 10:55 PM

Post #194 of 198 (4398 views)
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Re: [seniorfrog] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know about their online courses, but Northwestern and Chicago are both good schools. Many people consider U. of Chicago one of the best in the country. The University of Iowa has some online courses, too, and there are a lot of free (or cheap) online courses from other outfits.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.


dahosek
D. A. Hosek
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Sep 23, 2015, 2:12 PM

Post #195 of 198 (4377 views)
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Chicago/on-line adult and continuing education writing opportunities [In reply to] Can't Post

The Northwestern Continuing ed stuff is actually a full-fledged MFA program. I've heard positive things about the University of Chicago continuing ed classes (separate faculty from the University proper, incidentally) but have no direct experience.
There is StoryStudio Chicago which offers classes online and at their facility in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago (near the Irving Park Brown Line stop). I took a class there before I did my MFA and can recommend it.
The University of Iowa International Writers Program felt too big and required too much attention for too little benefit to my mind, but it is free so there's that.
UCLA Extension offers some good quality on-line classes (again, separate faculty from UCLA proper).
Another free online option is critiquecircle.com There's a wide variety of levels of writers there, but Lily should be happy to know that erotica is not allowed on the site and writers are asked to flag submissions that might be considered adult/offensive.


http://dahosek.com


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 23, 2015, 2:58 PM

Post #196 of 198 (4375 views)
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Re: [pongo] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

The U of C is the greatest, no doubt. The folks who I know who went there were very happy but they weren't there for writing. One of my tennis partners attended their continuing ed writing program and walked out disappointed but judging by what she herself wrote, there might've been a good reason. They're closing this program, though.
I am not sure the online option is ideal for writing. Isn't there supposed to be a face-to-face discussion and critique?


seniorfrog
Lily Be

Sep 23, 2015, 3:19 PM

Post #197 of 198 (4374 views)
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Re: [dahosek] Chicago/on-line adult and continuing education writing opportunities [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi,
Thanks for the info. I'll check out the Iowa option and critiquecircle. Not sure the online idea is good for writing, though, but I'll give it a try. The U of C is closing their continuing ed writing program but they have something else still going:
https://grahamschool.uchicago.edu/noncredit/certificates/writers-studio/index
What kind of class did you take at the Story Studio and what was covered? What kind of work did the students produce? Was it more like commercial stuff or serious literature?
Thank you!


pongo
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Sep 23, 2015, 5:42 PM

Post #198 of 198 (4368 views)
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Re: [seniorfrog] Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

No, the online option isn't ideal, but we shouldn't let the perfect become the enemy of the good.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

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