All posts tagged: summer

No Writing, All Questions

Image: Matt Roberts I haven’t written anything in a month. There hasn’t been a story or a poem, an outline or sketch, hell, I haven’t even written down any ideas on scrap pieces of paper. I’ve started and stopped this multiple times this past month trying to figure out what I’d like my last post to be about. I think you can tell from the writing it is not the best. I’ve got nothing. I imagine part of it is needing a break after finishing my last semester in college and then spending a week and a half dealing with graduation and all its many activities. Most people I know shut their brains off for a little after the end of a semester. But a month feels too long, like I’m getting complacent with my writing when, three months before entering an MFA program, I should be doing the exact opposite. This time of not writing has allowed me to think. In the midst of trying to find housing and a clinic near me who …

What I Learned in Year One of an MFA Program

In this post I’m supposed to be wrapping up my academic year, only I’m in the odd situation of having no year to discuss. Which isn’t to say I haven’t, you know, been alive and attending an MFA since August. It’s just that I’ve used my platform here to give out advice about publishing and applying, because probably that’s the most helpful thing I can do for anybody reading this blog. And I don’t like to mention the inner workings of my program, the glory and the drama, because I’m trying to be discrete. Chill. Classy. As the great Amy Poehler once wrote, “I don’t want people to know my shit!” But fine, let’s discuss what I’ve been doing, and if y’all glean any lessons from it, then good for you. *** First, the boring professional stuff. The application story from my undergrad writing workshop at UMass Boston, which I submitted in order to get into this MFA, won a contest at New Letters. The first story I wrote in Ohio was a huge floop …

So What Should I Do Over Summer?

With notes about final projects, workshop deadlines, and annotated bibliographies scattered across the month of April on my Google Calendar, the end of the first year of my MFA program at Alabama is well within sight. Many of you reading this may also be consumed with making a decision on an MFA program by the April 15 deadline or the prospect of applying for MFA programs against next year.   The vast majority of MFA programs are at least 2 to 3 years long, however, and with summer breaks often lasting for several months, the decision of what to do with that time can be almost as significant and rewarding as the MFA itself (both financially and creatively).   One of the first big questions to ask yourself when thinking about summer plans is about location. Where do you want to be over summer? Do you plan to stick around wherever your MFA program is located or to go elsewhere? What financial opportunities are available if you plan to stick around? What creative opportunities are …

A Summer With the Prose Poem

Image: Jain Basil Aliyas The first day of the Prose Poem class I was dismayed. My professor wanted us to write haiku. It was a moment before I could process what she was saying. Hai-who? Hai-What? No. No not that. It can’t be that. I write fiction and free verse poetry. Not that stuff.  She wasn’t joking. She led the class on a walk around campus for them to gain material. I, being stubborn, decided to stay in the classroom, which she said I could if I could vividly recall something that would help with my haiku. I thought about the rooftop party I had attended the day before while overlooking Prospect Park. Of course, I could recall something from that for my haiku. I took out my phone and began to look at the pictures of the party. I wrote haiku. Albeit, terrible examples of what I considered haiku. But when she returned with the class I had something written down. At the end of the Monday class, the assignment was to return to class …

Summer In The Rear View Mirror

Image: State Library and Archives of Florida I’m old, so that title reminds me of the Don Henley song Boys of Summer and the line “Don’t look back, you can never look back.” In my case, however, it would be The Books of Summer…the ones I didn’t quite get to and the ones I ran with. When the spring semester was winding up, I started making all sorts of summer plans for the classic literature I would read and the craft books I would analyze and the outlines of my memoir that I would pin to the wall next to my computer. But then I got a consultancy for work related to my last professional life (public health) and found myself in West Africa for a couple of weeks and, in the end, the only substantial writing I did over the summer was in generating work reports. Now, they were pretty darn good reports, I will say, but I’m also certain they’ll never make the New York Times Bestsellers list. If anyone ever reads them …