Author: Craig Knox

A New Beginning

If you’re reading this post on this blog, it’s because you have some level of investment (financial, emotional or both) in the MFA degree. When I applied to write for this site last year, I fully expected to recount a year chock full of nothing but reading & ‘riting, the first such year in my life. However, that’s not what happened. Life (& death) reared its ugly head. Over the past year, my MFA was a mere background note. To be honest, I’m lucky it was even that. Not every MFA program would allow you to enroll in August after you turned them down months earlier. Not every program would let you attend classes part-time. But Rutgers-Camden is not like every other MFA program. If you’re reading this while considering your own applications or while you are in the midst of your own MFA year(s), I urge you: please make sure your program cares about whatever issues might potentially affect your life while you pursue this degree. Nothing is more important, not even funding. I say that as someone who needed his MFA degree to be …

An Ode to the Part-Time MFA

I remember the MFA post-application period like it was yesterday. I was six months into a dead-end job that I had found through a temp agency. I felt my brain liquefying every day I worked there. The profound apathy in the building was practically on the payroll. I knew my time at this job was short when my boss declined to give me a raise (and I had earned that raise, damn it!) upon converting me from a temp to an employee. His rationale? “You’re a smart guy, you’ll leave here eventually.”

Learning to Read (Again)

As a child, I felt like I belonged in The Boxcar Children, The Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown more than I belonged in my own life. Reading became less about fantasy and more about escape as a teenager. My portals were contemporary fiction which allowed me to imagine a world outside my troubled narrow slice of New Jersey. Books remained my companions as a young adult while I bounced between unsatisfying jobs and relationships. My knowledge of the classics was pitiful, but Nick Hornby, Adam Davies and Augusten Burroughs wrote words that kept a spark of hope flickering intermittently in my brain even in the darkest of times. Once I got through those turbulent years, I became serious about school. Reading, writing, and poetry in particular, became joys in my life. On some days, moments spent reading Kay Ryan or Terrance Hayes or Li Bai and responding with my own bad poems were my only joys. I expelled words out of head and onto the paper with extreme force. As I finished my associate degree after four arduous years …

Staggering Along

A year ago around this time, I had just submitted my first few MFA applications and was grappling with the same stew of emotions that most of us crazy enough to pursue an MFA degree feel during application season: excitement, anxiety, fear and so much self-doubt. The MFA felt like the appropriate next move in my life, but first I had to get in somewhere. I knew if I sent my best writing, I’d have a puncher’s chance at an acceptance or two. I spent hours on my applications, but something still felt off with the first few. My statement of purpose wasn’t really me. The portfolios I submitted had my best work overall, but some of it was a few years old and didn’t reflect what I was thinking and writing about now. But working through that was critical. As I submitted my last few applications in late January, my portfolio and statements of purpose morphed. I became confident enough in my work that I felt I would get accepted somewhere, even with long …

Writing as Healing

When I applied to nearly a dozen fully funded or mostly funded MFA programs last winter and spring, the only expectation I had was that something unexpected would happen. I tried to not fantasize about New England winters, California freeways or whatever the hell it is people do in Virginia college towns. I hoped one of those scenarios would be my life, but I didn’t want to lock myself into needing an MFA from one particular program or one particular place. I knew my odds, but more than anything it felt like the right time to chase this MFA dream. Wherever I ended up, I would get that chance. As it turned out, something unexpected did happen. I received an acceptance from Rutgers-Camden, one of the two programs I applied to in my home state of New Jersey. So I traded my fantasies for familiarity. It wasn’t exactly the school in my backyard: Camden is just outside Philadelphia, a part of New Jersey that is new to me. The Rutgers-Camden MFA program offered so many elements that excite me: the …

Craig Knox Introduction (Rutgers-Camden ’19)

People like me don’t get MFA degrees. (…) The idea of pursuing an MFA first started to form when my workshop professor asked me to come to his office one night after class. Years before, this would have been because I wasn’t turning in homework, failed tests or just stopped showing up to class. This time, it was because the professor saw himself in my essay on Kim Addonizio’s book of poems Tell Me. “You can do what I do,” he told me. “This could be your future,” he said.