Month: October 2014

Dear Diary…

Ya’ll are probably too young to remember the intro to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, hell I’m probably too young to be remembering that intro! But when my friends ask me how I’m liking UC Riverside, I imagine I feel the same way MTM felt when she runs into that busy New York intersection, spun around and threw her little hat into the air! I am blissed out. Totally overjoyed. My cohort is the greatest. There’s 19 of us across screenwriting, playwriting, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. There’s none of that competitiveness or cattiness I’ve heard about in other programs. Everyone just seems to be genuinely happy to be here and happy to be surrounded by other happy people. There’s a wide range of ages and experiences in my cohort and I’m very pleased with all of the diversity. The faculty isn’t there to churn us out of a writer factory, they have more of a writer’s colony approach and they are there to guide us along the way.

Scaling Midterm Mountain

William T. Young Library Yesterday in class, my modernist poetry professor glanced down at the reading he’d assigned for this weekend (Eliot) and raised his eyebrows. “Well, that’s quite a lot, isn’t it?” He shrugged and smiled. “You turned in your papers already, I suppose, so you have nothing else to do.” We all laughed very hard, including him. The seminar combines PhD, MFA, and MA students–most people are TAs and take at least two classes. This particular class was so popular during registration that we sometimes have to scrounge for an extra chair if everyone is in attendance. We also generally have pretty amazing discussions that can last 15-20 minutes past the end of class, because everyone has something to say. In undergrad, I was used to being one of the only people in the room who always wanted to talk about stories and poems. Here, I’m surrounded by people who love the same things, whether their niche is scholarly or creative writing. Many of them are smarter and more well-read than I am, …

An Inside Look With Audrey Gradzewicz, Purdue University ’16

What is it like living in Lafayette? How far does your stipend go there living wise? Lafayette is a place that is distinctly alive and distinctly itself—and somehow, even, quintessentially American. In Lafayette, beautiful, old architecture and a palpable, even haunted history exist alongside the soullessly new and the dilapidated unto ruin. The Wabash River is simultaneously a sewer and a river Styx and the center of this place—a division between two distinct cities—West Lafayette, where the university is, and which is clean and kept up and is the public face, and Lafayette, which, if it were human, would be an old man sitting in his house after a hard day’s labor reading a book about chess strategy in his shiny red boxers. The two cities are separated by about a ten minute walk across a bridge—and flow into each other—like the Wabash would flow, if it indeed had any water in it. Lafayette is where most of the graduate students live, as it is cheaper than West Lafayette. In Lafayette, there are as many churches …

An Inside Look With Hannah Reed, Louisiana State University ’15

Hannah Reed is in her final year of the MFA program at Louisiana State University, where she edits the New Delta Review.  Prior to entering the program, Hannah served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, where she worked with youth and their families in the southern Andes. What is it like living in Baton Rouge? How far does your stipend go there living wise?

Is This Thing On?: Navigating the MFA Application Poetry Sample

Image: Chris Campbell I’ve talked briefly before about my application sample woes. A good portion of what ended up in my sample came from my junior year capstone project. I spent a year writing and revising poetry for it, and ended up with a nice looking chapbook, and some good to decent to bad poems. Everyone has a different strategy. Some applicants will submit things they’ve been working on for a while, others will submit newer stuff, and some will fall in the middle. The most important thing to remember about what you put in your sample is this: make sure it’s your best writing. The sample is the most important aspect of your application. Do not forget this. Do not focus less on your sample because you’re worried about your CV or recommendation letters or the GRE. Focus on your sample even more and on everything else too. Hey, no one ever said applying to creative writing programs was easy and not completely time-consuming. It’s also important to note that all of the advice I’m …

From Week 0 to Week 6

So, my intention was to do a dedicated week 0 post and then do a post each week for each week of school. Then reality set in along with practicality, and I realized the once a month model made way more sense. So, I’ll condense my week 0 experience and elaborate greatly on the good stuff: school work! I know there have already been tons of things people have said about the application process, and with everyone who is currently getting their portfolios ready for Draft ’15, I’ll say Caitlin’s post on the subject is very well informed and exhaustive. All I will add is don’t do what I did! If there’s anyone who’s constantly putting themselves at a disadvantage by doing things the hard way, it’s definitely me. If you haven’t started working on your samples already, get on that now! If you’re an early bird, the summer would have been a great time to do some sprucing and sorting of old material and workshopping and editing new material. Luckily, like I’ve said, it’s …