All posts tagged: diversity

Why We Need Diverse Syllabi

Image: John Nakamura Remy In the second year of my M.A. program, I’ve had the opportunity to teach my own introductory fiction course to undergraduate students. Creative Writing courses tend to draw a diverse group of students, especially because my intro course fulfills a general education requirement. I have students from all different disciplines, not just English— biology, engineering, poli-sci, agriculture, you name it. My students also range from freshman to so-called “super seniors.” Moreover, the UC Davis student population is racially diverse (only 26% of the freshman class of 2016 was white), and my classroom reflects the wider demographics of the school. With that in mind, I’ve needed to craft a syllabus that will both fit my students’ needs and fulfill my learning objectives. To do this, I’ve made a concerted effort to focus on readings by writers of color and women on my syllabus. In my course, my students read Junot Diaz’s story “How to Date A Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)” to discuss 2nd person point of view. They …

Becoming the Killjoy: Confronting Academic Spaces

Finishing up my final semester at University of Wyoming’s MFA felt tumultuous, though I suppose it couldn’t have ended any other way. Many faculty seemed to be leaving UW amidst the school’s large-scale budgeting overhaul due to the collapse of Wyoming’s coal industry last year, nothing new for the state considering its legacy of booms and busts. A new drama was rising afresh within the program as students learned of the manner in which beloved faculty member, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, had been terminated. Further, this was all happening against the backdrop of macro and micro struggles. Each week was some new round of messy political theatre, and meanwhile my friends and I were going through own crises, doing what we could to find moments together to fight through the gloom. After my thesis defense, one of my committee members gave me a letter that contained everything I needed to hear at the end of this stricken road. Even now, I’m holding the letter, reading through it again and finding myself wrecked with the sharp joy of …

How to make your MFA decision

Image: Vimal Kumar Maybe you’re still waiting to hear back from MFA programs or you already know you’ve been accepted to one or more. Either way, come April, if you are in the lucky position of being able to choose where you attend graduate school next fall, here are suggestions from some of our first year contributors on how to choose the program that is right for you. Contributors: Molly Montgomery, Craig Knox, Devin Koch, Jess Silfa, and Carlos Chism What is the most important factor to consider when making the decision? Molly Montgomery: I think the biggest factor when you’re making your decision is your personal goals. Of the programs you were accepted to you, which do you think will help you reach your goals as a writer? And if you have other aspirations, such as a desire to improve your teaching skills or to gain professional or editorial experience, will the program also help you achieve those goals? When you are comparing offers, it’s easy to only look at the funding, but you also …

Contractual Community: Minority Students’ Place in the Creative Writing Program

Image: Conal Gallagher A lot has happened since the events of last semester as detailed here. I thought about what it might look like for me to give an update on promises given, what has improved, what hasn’t. And yet, I feel like it’d be unnecessary, in a sense, to give another somewhat in-depth barometric of things overall. A problem had been pointed out, namely the program’s inadequate approach, specifically under the helm of the current director, Jeff Lockwood, to address issues uniquely relevant to minority students. A call had been made and had been heard. Anymore expended emotional and intellectual energies, other than acting for the sake of my own survival if necessary, would be undue labor on my part, at least in my view. Then, there’s simply the matter of our program’s change in directors starting next year, from Jeff Lockwood to Brad Watson. So rather than go in that direction, I thought I would discuss a topic endemic to the creative writing program generally: problems with the notion of “community.” (Although, if …

5 Frequently Asked Application Questions Answered By Current MFA Candidates

Photo Credit: Alfred Stieglitz, “The Steerage”  It’s mid-December, which means it’s high tide in application season. A year ago, we were exactly where you are now. We spent our free time navigating unintuitively designed web portals for universities, editing our statements of purpose to be personal for each program, and tallying all the money we spent on application fees. We all shouldered the nauseating uncertainty of it all, wondering if we were acting in vain. Somehow, we all managed to be admitted. So maybe we knew a little bit more about applications than we thought. This month, myself and 3 other first year MFA candidates decided to get together to reflect on how we got here. So, we decided to answer some of the most frequently asked application questions. Though we don’t always agree, we hope that our insight will provide some perspective to this year’s MFA contenders. These questions were answered by Stephanie Lane Sutton (Poetry, University of Miami), Carlos Alonso Chism (Fiction, University of Maryland), Craig Knox (Poetry, Rutgers-Camden), and Shakarean Hutchinson (Fiction, Cornell).  How …

Natalie Lima Introduction (University of Alabama ’19)

Photo Credit: facebook.com/AlabamaFTBL Today is the first home football game of the season. It’s early September in the Deep South—Tuscaloosa, AL—and the streets are empty because the game is under way. There are no cars on the road. No people in line at Target. There’s not much to do, except maybe write. But I’ve been struggling with this part, the writing thing. At twenty-nine, I applied to MFA programs for precisely this reason: the time and space to write. People warned me that the degree would be useless. Don’t spend a dime on it, they said. So I didn’t. I applied to fully-funded programs, two years in a row. On my second round, I got into two and wait-listed at a third. At the program I chose, I received a great diversity fellowship, and I’m earning enough money to live on. I have an apartment with giant windows and tons of sunlight. Everything is just as I wanted, just as I envisioned an ideal writing setting. Yet, for some reason, I’ve been struggling to put …

Shakarean Hutchinson Introduction (Applicant ’16)

Image: Andrew Taylor I finished my first application today (December 8th) with the mailing of my writing sample. I expected to feel something when the USPS worker took the envelope from me—happiness, relief, nervousness. Instead I felt what can only be described as meh. A 5 on a scale of 10. Baked but lightly salted crackers. Water. And not the icy cold water you drink after being out in the hot sun for hours on end either. Just plain, room temperature, straight from the tap water. *** I didn’t know anything about MFA programs until about three years ago while reading the bio of a random writer who had a short story published in an online journal I enjoyed. And even after doing a casual Google search on MFA programs I didn’t give it all that much thought. My future plans included getting an advanced degree in…something (hadn’t decided at the time), become a professor, and spend the rest of my life teaching and paying off student loans. And should I write a story or …