Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Intro: Katie Bell, University of New Hampshire (Class of 2013)

Hello! My name is Katie Bell and I will be attending the University of New Hampshire's fiction MFA in the fall. I will receive my BA from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville over the summer, and I am very excited to start the MFA program.

A little bit about me: I am 21 years old, married (to a great guy whose support I cherish), finishing up my bachelor's degree and working pretty much full time at an Auntie Anne's Pretzels in a local mall. When I have free time, I work on my writing, and I have about seven different story ideas bouncing around in my head right now.

I will be in the same boat in New Hampshire, because I am willingly attending a program without funding. Why? Am I crazy? (Maybe, but that's beside the point). After antagonizing over a decision, I chose to attend the University of New Hampshire without funding because I think that the program is worth it. I have received countless emails from professors and current students extolling the virtues of the program and I feel like the University of New Hampshire will be able to give me the advice I need to improve my writing without feeling as though I'm only attending a school for the money. I am looking forward to attending classes with students who are attending UNH because they are passionate about their writing as much as I am about mine. I want to be surrounded by a group of hardworking writers, which professors and current students have assured me is what I will find at the University of New Hampshire.

Sure, I will have to work two jobs and take three classes in the fall to make ends meet financially, but I would rather work hard now to make my future the best it can be.

And I leave you with something unique about me: There's this pair of pants that I've had since I was seventeen years old. They're frayed, full of holes, and stained to the point where I no longer think of them as an acceptable pair of pants. But I still wear them because I like to think of them as a symbol of me: over-worn and torn apart, but still functional. So I am a pair of pants, still hugging the ass of life.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Geting Ready?

So, I'm about two months away from my move and three from starting class again after a five year hiatus. I've been so focused on the details of the move (finding a place, figuring out how and where to register my car, expense calculations, student loan apps, etc.), I haven't thought much about school (finding an advisor, registering, getting books, filling out forms, etc.). And in general, I haven't done much to prepare for the MFA experience at all. I write somewhat regularly, but I mean in terms of what goes on in the classroom.

Next Wednesday I'm speaking at an Advanced Poetry class at BSU; I think it's sort of a guest speaker, reading/Q & A type thing, but I'm not really sure, honestly. I guess that's kind of prep for classroom discussions, but not entirely.

Anyways, I'm curious what anyone else is doing to prepare themselves for reentry into the academic rigamarole. Or if anyone else has things they'd suggest.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Application season is finally over. *breathes sigh of relief*

It's good to see so many fresh faces on this blog--congratulations new MFA students (and MFA Chronicles bloggers)!

One thing I had wondered about, but wanted to wait until after application season ended to post: recruitment.

Specifically, I found myself trying to dazzle people who asked me about UH with the things I most love about my program, and I could find myself jabbering a little too much. I didn't want to just drown new recruits with information.

So I wondered, is it better to tell recruits all the things they don't/can't know about the program/location, or did y'all try just asking the recruits questions about what they were interested in, and letting them talk?

I also wondered this same thing when we were trying to hire teachers (and would have lunches with them or go to their craft talks): is it best to try to dazzle the teachers by jabbering at them, or should we be quiet and let them tell us what they are interested in? (A big shout-out to the two new poetry teachers at UH: Kevin Prufer and Ange Mlinko!)

I'm sure it's different for each person, but any general rules y'all follow in recruitment?

*CLARIFICATION* By dazzle and jabber, I don't mean being dishonest. I just mean talking too much.

I believe incoming students need to know exactly what they are getting into, only sometimes there's so much to tell them about the great pros (and the few inevitable cons), that it's a little hard for them to get a word in, edge-wise...

Sorry for any confusion!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Intro: Laura, Emerson (Class of 2013)

Hello! I'm Laura and I will be beginning Emerson's MFA program in poetry in the fall.

About me: I'm from the tiny state of Rhode Island, full of beaches, old buildings, unemployment, and unpronounceable town names. I am finishing up my BA in English at the University of Rhode Island, which has a little-known but amazing creative writing department. I have a habit of taking too many classes and working too many jobs at once.

I was first encouraged to apply to MFA programs my junior year in college by a wonderful poetry professor. After I did more research, I decided that going for my MFA was really what I wanted. Application season was pretty much a seven-month-long panic attack -- I wanted to get in so badly and freaked out daily about whether I would. I had plans B through E drafted in my head and ready to implement at a moment's notice. I was lucky enough to get accepted to multiple programs, and it was a really difficult decision. I chose Emerson because of the many different opportunities it offers: teaching; taking classes in publishing, literature, and from other departments; working in multiple genres (I also write creative nonfiction). I also love Boston and am really excited to move there.

A little bit about my writing: If it's true that every writer has some kind of central fascination or obsession that drives his or her work, then mine is the fact that I am endlessly fascinated by the strangeness of life. I love the odd, the quirky, the offbeat; how strange this world already is, and how many strange things humans have added to it. I'm especially interested right now in working along the line between realism and fabulism.

I'm looking forward to posting on this blog, getting to know the other bloggers, and writing about my MFA experience. I'm so excited!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Intro: Chrissy Friedlander, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (class of 2013)

Hi folks. My name is Chrissy, I’m twenty-three, and I am thrilled to say that I will be attending the University of Minnesota’s MFA program in poetry this fall. Although I have to admit that I was more an MFA Chronicle Lurker than an MFA Chronicle Participant during this application season, I did find that just reading the posts of the current class affirmed my decision to pursue MFA work in the first place. Simply stated, seeing cool kids write about their cool adventures in their respective MFA programs made me want to drop everything and just live a writerly life, too. Whether I end up cool or not is still to be determined.

I guess a little about me: my real name is Christine, but I usually go by Chrissy because I hate Stephen King. Actually, I don’t hate him, per say; I just don’t appreciate sharing a name with his Christine, a Christine who just so happens a vengeful car that gruesomely murders a slew of people in Pennsylvania. Speaking of PA, I graduated from Bucknell University in 2009 with a BA in English-Creative Writing, and am still suffering from Stadler Center for Poetry and West Branch Intern withdrawal. I’m also an alumnus of the 2007 Bucknell June Seminar for Younger Poets (what up, other Junies on this blog!), the SUISS Creative Writing Program (‘08), and the University of Denver’s Publishing Institute (‘09). Since graduating, I’ve worked primarily as a writing consultant, computer literacy tutor, and web designer at home in New Jersey, but I’ve also made time to cross some things off of my to-do list. Currently, I am training for a half-marathon in May and learning how to play the harmonica. So far, I can play parts of “Danny Boy.” Well, kind of.

Although I have certainly enjoyed post-graduate life thus far, I am pumped to start my next adventure in academia at the University of Minnesota. Minneapolis is such a sweet city (can’t wait to start exploring more of it!), and after visiting the campus and program this past March for recruitment events, I am convinced that U of M is the right place for me. As much as I am looking forward to taking a break from the Dirty Jerz, however, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about moving westward. This whole apartment-search-thing, for one, is a bit nerve-wracking, since I’ve never actually searched for an apartment before. Any advice?

Well, I guess that’s all for now. I’m so excited to be a part of this awesome online community, and I can’t wait to hear more about our joint ventures in the MFA world. Keep it real.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cool assignment

Hey guys,

My professor, Pinckney Benedict, gave us a really neat assignment this week-- along with our normal writing, he asked us to think about what our theme song is. This became a huge existential crisis for me, because I know way too much music for my own good, and every song seemed either way too simple or too complicated. (I also have a pretty healthy fear of the people around me understanding me too well, so I didn't want to give anything away.) You can see my freaking out about it here at my blog.

But it made me think in other ways, too-- our workshop is pretty intense. Each writer has a story due every other week, and Pinckney requests that it be new, and whatever you're working on when your turn comes up. As a result, I've written seven full length stories this semester (they are certainly not all good).

So an assignment like this, even if it's just something quick and fun, was a breath of fresh air. It kind of helped me get energized about writing again, this week, too, because I had a "theme song" (both the one I sent to him and the one that is my SECRET theme song, like my superhero theme). Do your professors have cool exercises that they use to change things up? And do you guys even think it's beneficial to use music in writing classes?

And what the hey-- what's your theme song? Do you have a writing theme song and a personal theme song, or are they one and the same?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Conferences? Summer Plans?

by Jennifer Brown

My semester is wrapping up and I’m thinking about plans for the summer. For the past several years I’ve done workshops at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. It was always a great experience—especially the year I had the pleasure of working with Bret Anthony Johnston, who is an amazing writing teacher. But Bret doesn’t teach there anymore, and I feel like I’ve outgrown the festival a bit. So this year I decided to try and get in somewhere a little more competitive. I’ve applied to three places—Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Tin House—with my preference being in that order (I’m already on the east coast). I got an acceptance letter from Tin House today, but I don’t expect to hear back from Sewanee for another couple of weeks, and I don’t expect to hear back from Bread Loaf until the end of May. Damn, waiting is hard! I think GMU has funds available to grad students who attend summer conferences, but I don’t know the details—I’ve put in an email to the grad programs manager for more information.

I've put up a video about Tin House on my personal blog--you can find it HERE.

Anyone else going to a summer conference? Does your school help you out with the cost of attendance? Maybe some of us will end up in the same place and can meet up?

Summer plans everyone?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Intro: Lindsay Hansen, Ohio State (class of 2013)

Hey everyone! I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself before I forget. My name is Lindsay, I'll be 23 in fifteen days, and I'm a nonfiction writer living in western New York. I'll be starting at Ohio State in the fall and couldn't be happier to be headed to Columbus in four months!

I'm currently finishing my fifth year of undergrad at SUNY Brockport, about twenty miles west of Rochester, NY. My degree will be in English (creative writing concentration), Political Science, and Women and Gender Studies. I decided pretty late -- my third year -- to declare English as a major, so I decided to stay an extra year so I could get the full experience. I've been lucky and have found an incredible community of writers here. I'm currently the editor-in-chief of our undergraduate literary magazine, Jigsaw, and the president of English Club. Last year, I did an internship with the Brockport Writers Forum, our reading series, which brings in 10 writers every year. Aside from school and my involvement in literary things, I work in our Women's Center as a program coordinator and just recently "retired" after four and a half years in student government. We had our annual end of the year student/faculty reading last night and the whole thing made me realize how close I am to graduation. It's actually pretty terrifying.

I've lived in small towns in western New York my whole life -- near Keuka Lake until I was 18, and then here in Brockport for the past five years -- so location was huge for me in terms of picking a school. I wanted a change, but I also wanted to be close enough that I could drive home if necessary. Columbus, about seven hours from my parents' house, is exactly what I wanted. It's a big city (to me, at least, though I'm sure others would disagree), but the program is relatively small (about 50 people over three years) and incredibly welcoming, so it feels more like what I'm used to. Funding was also a huge concern for me, as well as teaching experience. So honestly, Ohio State offers everything I'm looking for in a program.

I was lucky and heard from OSU in late January, was rejected by Minnesota in early February, and was accepted at my final school, Minnesota State - Mankato, in early March. I officially committed a few days later, so I've been pretty relaxed about where I'm going for over a month now. I even found an apartment when I visited for open house on April 2nd. It's been a nice change, since I've spent the past year worried that I'd be unemployed and living with my parents after graduation.

I look forward to getting to know all of you and can't wait to read about your experiences with the MFA. You can e-mail me at lindsaay [dot] hansen [at] gmail [dot] com, add me on Facebook, or follow my personal blog. I also have a twitter, but rarely update.

New Contributors Welcome!

Happy Final Decision Day, New MFA'ers!

I have to say that I am very excited that the upcoming class of new MFA students has taken the initiative to see about becoming contributors on the blog. I look forward to your introductory posts and getting to know more about you and your program!

To be honest, when the blog started I hadn't imagined it as something that we'd continue to add contributors to each year. I thought it would be interesting to look at the experiences of people who all started their MFAs at the same time and where it would lead for all of us and that's as far as my vision went. Thankfully, the nature of this blog does not limit it to one person's vision! So I'm really thankful and excited about how things are turning out and that people have found what we've done here useful and now want to contribute.

We are totally open for new contributers! You can contact me at jkgadson at hotmail.com for access to start posting on this blog if you are interested. The only requirement is that you be an MFA student of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. It doesn't matter if you are low-residency or whatever the opposite of low-residency is since full-time doesn't sound right to my seminar paper fried mind. Onsite? Anyone, anyone? Buehler?

I'm planning on changing the way contributors are displayed so it will be a few weeks before that's accurate. But it would be great for the next class to keep the blog going with introductory posts and other prepping-for-the-program type posts while a lot of us who are already in programs labor under end of semester demands, which I plan to post about next week after I've finally completed this 20 page lit paper.
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