All posts filed under: MA

Finding My Discomfort Zone

Image: Trung Bui Viet In my first class on creative nonfiction this past April, I sat down in the workshop, excited, a little nervous, but fundamentally reassured by one thought: I wasn’t going to be any good at the class anyway, so I didn’t have to worry too much about mastering the finer points of the memoir or essay. I was taking nonfiction because in my MA program, we are required to take one class outside of our genre. Since I’m a fiction writer, that meant choosing between poetry and nonfiction.  When I was in undergrad, I took one fateful poetry workshop. It was actually my first workshop experience. I wasn’t much of a poet, or at least I didn’t consider myself to be one, but it was easier to get accepted into a poetry workshop than a fiction workshop, so I took the chance to be in it when it was offered, knowing that I wasn’t going to be the star of the class. I brought in my painful clichéd breakup poems every week and …

An Inside Look With Kenny Stoneman, Kingston University ’15

Image: Barnyz A note from Kenny: There didn’t seem to be a natural place to mention it, but I attended the MFA program at Kingston University – London from September 2014 – September 2015.  Because I only finished the first year, I received an MA, rather than the full MFA.  Most schools in the UK work that way – the MA is the first year, while the MFA is the second. What was it like living in London? How did you navigate the cost of living there? Lesson #1 about living in London: it’s expensive. There is absolutely no way around that fact, although I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to very many people. Be prepared to budget, and also be ready for exorbitant prices on just about everything. But there are a few things most Americans won’t realize about London until they get there. For thing, if you’re on a student visa, you are legally not allowed to work more than 20 hrs/wk, so unless you’re independently wealthy, you will need student loans to support yourself. I …

Wrapping Up.

Image: GMDS by meg This year, I learned that I am a writer. It is the most important of the lessons I’ve learned. See, I didn’t write for the past two weeks. I ducked out of Missouri the day after my last paper was due and I have been driving around my beloved Florida since then, visiting family and friends (not all and not enough) and hoping that the AC in Rudy, my dear hatchback, wouldn’t succumb to the relentlessness of the Fort Myers sun. I. didn’t. write. I felt that I had no words left—that I had been wrung out. My wonderings have woven themselves into various essays over the past year, my similes have been exhausted, and my perspective was beginning to falter. I wanted to let my mind breathe these two weeks and recharge by the ocean. Well. Words came back, but they come back in droves, with no direction. In my head, I heard them shriek when I knew that they should whisper; others mumbled when they should have projected clearly. …

Leaving the Smears

Image: Workshop Window by Graeme Tozer At my program here in Mizzou, we have two large offices where we all have been assigned desks and nice chairs on wheels. We have card-swipe access to the building after hours and we have large keys for these offices downstairs. The place is normally a montage of clipped fingernails around travel coffee mugs, blazers thrown off and flats slipped on between classes, conferences with students, the occasional collapse of a stack of books and trip over a power cord. In the break room you will always find someone in front of the fridge, vying for space for another $8 Wal-mart zippered lunchbag among the wall of $8 Wal-mart zippered lunchbags. But on the weekends, the offices are empty, quiet, still. Somehow, I lucked into having a desk in front of a window that looks out behind the university’s flagship building and the flowers that spill over large ceramic urns. It is from here that I wrote this post. I’m not sure where I’m headed and perhaps that is …

Other options in that pesky numbers game

Image: Numbers by Marc Kjerland It’s the time of year when most MA/MFA applicants are hearing back from programs. This is the time for decisions, for comparisons, and for running the numbers. For many of us, the numbers play quite a large role in deciding where we will be spending the next two or three years. Most programs ask you to teach in order to offer you funding. Other schools ask you to fulfill some other position and still others offer nothing at all, and ask that you pay hourly course fees. This is where the numbers game comes into play. My MA program at the University of Missouri is a funded program. From first year English graduate students the department asks for ten hours per week to be spent tutoring undergraduate students in the school’s Writing Center. We either meet with students in person, or we respond to online submissions. We read through essays and we give feedback, we ask the students what they would like to work on with us and for an …

Imposter

Image: Whisper – Cuchotement by Frédérique Voisin-Demery Imposterrrrr. The whisper escapes from my medicine cabinet as I reach for my toothbrush. Imposterrrrr. It snakes around the mugs in my cupboard as I grab my favorite. Imposterrrrr. It is what I hear from my closet at night. It wafts in through the wall vents riding on the heat. It resounds through the hallways after I leave a class having not spoken. On walks home, the whispers fight against my jacket like the cold. They try to hold my hand through my gloves. I can hear them over my headphones, through the noise of the wind. At my apartment, the words manage to sneak in past the front door as I drop my bag on the linoleum entrance. They vanish into dark corners and into the nooks with doors, ready to spill out at me when I need a fresh towel. I crack a beer and a book and I know the words are behind me, pulsing and throbbing. I fall asleep on the couch, lights on, …

And now I cook

Image: Morag Cooking Winter break is a time to cook, sleep and collect more stories. I stroll through the local (not university) library, picking out books with funky fonts and interesting back covers. My dining table is covered with cookbooks and essay collections; my ottoman is clear of sticky notes and binders but instead has beer coasters and even more books splayed open. It’s December and it is cold. The roads are quiet; the air feels blue behind the smoke that spills from the power plant. Yesterday, I opened my kitchen blinds and did a little dance when I saw the cracked and brown foliage covered with fine shreddings of snow. I ran to open my front windows and saw that the whole of my street, perfectly still in the winter lull, was blanketed too. My apartment tends to smell like some sort of vegetable and spice, now that I have the time to roast sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. My counters and sink are full of bowls and pots from soaking beans or simmered …