Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brianna McPherson (Hollins University, 2011)

Hi! My name is Brianna McPherson and I will start my MFA program at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia in three weeks. Three weeks! Gulp. I have so much packing to do! Ahhh! Anyway, after that small moment of panic, I can tell you that like my classmate, Denis, I am concentrating in nonfiction.

A little bit about me: I am 22 years old and hail from a small town in Ohio called East Liverpool that is more famous for its toxic waste incinerator than creative writing. I recently graduated from a small liberal arts school in central Ohio called Otterbein College where I majored in English and minored in Women's Studies. In my writing I seem to be preoccupied with gender, religion, spirituality and self-censorship. I'm still trying to sort out how all of those fit together.

Let me tell you that I never, ever thought I'd be contributing to a MFA collective blog. When I was applying I felt like it was all an exercise in futility because no school would want me. I thought of myself as so anonymous, so small, since I didn't come from a large school or have a lot of "life experience" as was discussed last post. Here I am, though, and I'm so excited and proud to say that I am a first year MFA student. I've wanted this since I was a plucky little freshman and now it's finally here!

Another thing I'd like to talk about is the glorious and beautiful genre of nonfiction. In the interest of full disclosure, when I first started dreaming about the MFA I thought I'd apply for fiction or even playwriting. It wasn't until I took a nonfiction workshop my junior year that I knew that nonfiction was the genre for me. Not to knock the other genres represented here, but I feel like nonfiction is a bit of a red headded step child in the MFA world. There are far fewer options for those seeking a concentration in nonfiction. Fortunately, from what I hear, there are more now than ever before, but they are still a little scarce. Also, while talking to others about their undergrad experience, they weren't even taught nonfiction as a genre! What a travesty.

As for a "blog", I'm unsure about pluging anything, though I do make posts in an acient livejournal and a blog that I'm trying to revamp. I'm looking forward to reading all your posts and best of luck as your begin your programs!


  1. Welcome Brianna!! It's good to have another nonfictioner on the blog. What does the pin on your shirt say that you are pointing to in your pic?

  2. Welcome to our little dog and pony show, Brianna! William Logan, a poet at the University of Florida, spoke rather disparagingly about CNF and its place among the other genres in MFA programs. I think he is very wrong about that. I have some latent CNF tendencies that are beginning to emerge! It's a wonderful genre.

  3. JayTee: The picture was taken at an Obama rally (OMG I shook Michelle Obama's hand!). The blue pin is a little Obama-Biden and the white one says "Otterbein Pride." You see, the rally was held at Otterbein's cross-town rival, Capital University, so I had to represent for OC!

  4. Tory: Oh really now? I'll have to look up said comments. It may just come to fisticuffs. A lot of poets transition in to CNF, including my amazing mentor, Dr. Shannon Lankanen (she got her PhD in CW at Ohio University). I'm going the opposite way. After leaving poetry for about 4 or 5 years I'm slowly coming back.

  5. What was Michelle Obama's hand like?

  6. I was lucky that at UCSD every writing major took a class in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Poetry may be the genre I'm formally wedded to, but creative nonfiction is definitely my mistress. Welcome to the blog!

    (P.S. to anyone who saw my last comment about being MIA for 2 weeks. Yeah, I should be in the U.S. on internet blackout, but instead I'm still in Denmark. Will be leaving in a week. Long story.)

  7. Sacha: Michelle Obama's hand was very long, smooth and a little bony. Afterward I turned to my friend and did the whole "I'm never washing this hand AGAIN!" Of course, I forgot all about the promise after I went to the bathroom.

    Keely: That's great that you got to study CNF in undergrad. At Otterbein we all had to take a basic catch-all creative writing course where we did poetry, fiction, plays and nonfiction. Looking back, I think the professor who taught my section had no idea what he was trying to teach us when it came to nonfiction. I ended up thinking that nonfiction was pretty pointless until I had a hole in my schedule and the only thing that would fit was the nonfiction workshop. It was fate!

  8. Wow, it's a small world.... I grew up in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, and I know exactly where East Liverpool is. And my baby sister just graduated from Otterbein this June; she was an Accounting major though.

    Anyway, I am a poet who never got to study CNF when I was an undergrad but am really looking forward to taking a NF workshop as a grad student.


Related Posts with Thumbnails