All posts tagged: University of Virginia

Salutations & Pre-MFA Nerves

  Hello, dear MFA applicants, candidates, and curious others. By some lovely miracle, I’ll be joining the poetry cohort at the University of Virginia next week. I want to use this first post to reflect on my fears about beginning the program—to write them down before they are either confirmed or dispelled. Of course, I’m still dazed with delight about UVA. I feel like I’ve won the cosmic lottery, or gotten a late Hogwarts letter. I got into three different types of programs (Philosophy PhD programs and Divinity Schools) but the University of Virginia MFA is the one I pined over. They also notified last, so I had plenty of time to get my hopes up, then get blue about my inevitable rejection, then find myself looking up rentals in Charlottesville, then remind myself of the odds, and secretly hold feelings of inadequacy when friends got into incredible programs, and on, and on, and on. The feeling of being accepted was amazing—it almost hurt to feel so suddenly drained of worry and filled with wonder. …

Adventures at AWP ’15

Back in January/February my friends and I decided we were going to drive to Minneapolis for AWP. Yes, drive all the way from Virginia to Minnesota. It went surprisingly well. On the way there we stopped in Dayton, Ohio, for Skyline Chili (Cincinnati chili represent!) and I always love driving past the windmill fields in Indiana. We arrived in Saint Paul around 3am the day of the conference. An alumna of my program was kind enough to let us stay with her, and she had tasty carrot/apple/ginger juice waiting for us. I reluctantly woke up a few hours later and headed off to the Graywolf Poetry Reading. Nick Flynn and Matthea Harvey were great, of course. I’d never read any of Mary Jo Bang’s or Katie Ford’s poetry before but I enjoyed them too. Then I got to see my wonderful professor Rita Dove sing poetry set to doo-wop. She performed with Sophie Cabot Black, Carol Muske-Dukes and Marilyn Nelson. My personal favorite was Plath’s “Daddy” sung to the tune of  “Dream Lover.” That night I saw Anne …

Allow Me to Interrupt

Apologies for not writing a post last month. And this post is going to be fairly short. I’ve discovered I’m not much of a blogger (I should have guessed this because I was never much of a diarist either). Intramural baseball started up again and I got my first hit last week! Y’all I’m pretty sure I didn’t get one hit last semester. But we were practicing after the week and for some reason my brain thought it was a good idea to catch a ball with my bare hand. Ya know, like in A League of Their Own? Yeah, not very smart. And of course it’s the hand I write with. The most exciting thing that’s happened these past couple of months is acceptances going out! I can’t believe it’s been a year since I was waitlisted at UVA. I had no idea at the time if I’d be here or not. And here I am! It’s been fun talking with the prospective poetry students. I’ve loved my first year in the program and …

So You’re Waiting to Hear Back from MFA Programs: Post Application Advice With Caitlin Neely

For the next two months we’ll be asking some of our first year contributors to talk about the post application period and how they dealt with it last year. What did you do to get through the post application period? I was finishing up my last semester of undergrad so my classwork helped distract me. Also, Netflix, lots of Netflix. I actually was terrible at getting through the post application period. I was constantly checking my phone and email. Draft was both helpful and unhelpful—some joy but also lots of anxiety and fear. What’s the best piece of advice you received about applying? To submit the poetry I loved and was interested in. At one point I was considering including a couple of longer, narrative poems in my sample. Most of my poems were short and lyrical and centered around nature. I was worried my sample didn’t have enough “range” and was too narrow in terms of style and aesthetic. Right before one of my applications was due, I was still debating on whether or not to keep them. …

Getting Back Into the Submission Swing of Things

Towards the end of my fall semester, I started submitting to journals. I hadn’t submitted anything since last spring and it felt like the right time to start putting my new work out there once more. It’s hard; anything that involves possible rejection is hard. Some places have told me flat out no, others have said no thank you but please consider submitting more in the future, and a few have sent me acceptances. Rejection is strange. You receive enough and you start wondering if you’ll ever publish anything again. And then someone says yes and you feel silly for ever entertaining the thought. I used to love when my Duotrope list was long. Now the more submission responses I tick off, the better I feel. Getting rejections means getting the opportunity to send my poetry out to more places and to discover some new lit. magazines along the way. A couple of weeks ago I had a submissions party with a few friends. It was fun distracting each other, offering up journals where we thought …

Fall Course Schedules

Ever wonder what a typical MFA student’s semester looks like? We hope the variety of answers below will give you some idea of the classes we’ve taken this fall, and how our time is divided between teaching/working and being a student. Fiction J.R. Dawson University of Southern Maine – Stonecoast Mine works a tad different because I’m at a low-res. This semester, I’m working on a steampunk YA novel with David Anthony Durham. I have a reading list and 25 pages due every month. Sarah Abbott University of Kentucky Tuesdays 2:00-3:15 pm Intro to Imaginative Writing (TA grading assignment) 5:00-7:30 pm Workshop Thursdays 2:00-3:15 pm Intro to Imaginative Writing (TA grading assignment) 3:30-4:45 pm Modern Irish Poetry Jennifer Obi Northern Arizona University Mondays 3:00-5:30 pm Fiction Writing Workshop 7:00-9:30 pm Graduate Literary Studies Thursdays 12:45-3:15 pm Workshop in Creative Nonfiction Poetry Caitlin Neely University of Virginia Mondays 2:00-4:30 pm Poetry workshop Tuesdays 1:00-3:15 pm The Poetics of Ecstasy Gillian Douple Columbia College Chicago Mondays Work in the Writing Center Tuesdays Work in the Writing Center …

First semester wrap up

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, my fall semester is almost over. I only have one workshop left which I hate thinking about because it makes me sad. But now is not the time to feel down, it’s the time to celebrate getting through my first semester at UVA! Here’s a quick wrap up: Road trips I travelled to VCU to see Natasha Trethewey read, and to Hollins to attend a Q&A with Li-Young Lee. The Hollins trip ended up being even more exciting than I anticipated because the creative writing faculty invited us along to lunch with Li-Young Lee and the MFA students at Hollins. Everyone in the program was kind and welcoming. I can’t say enough good things about the people we talked to there. Li-Young Lee is ten times cooler than I ever could have imagined him to be. He talked about his love/hate for Wallace Stevens, breath and poetry, and tons of other amazing stuff. I can’t find the notes I wrote down or I’d include more. Intramural sports I played intramural softball and …