Friday, August 7, 2009


by Jonterri Gadson
I refuse to waste the time that the MFA gifts me so here’s my list of goals:

1. Write the best poems I can write - That’s the number one reason that I chose the MFA because I want to gain more exposure to poets, poems, and poetic techniques so I can use these things to write my own best poems. Plus, everything else follows from this: publications, future employment, the meaning of life. I just need to write my best poems and see what happens.

2. Keep to a writing schedule- This is something I started ahead of time. I spent 2-4 hours in the library every weekday over the summer. The library had a summer reading program so my son participated in that for a few hours while I sat in the café sipping iced mochas and writing (everything but poetry, see Jennifer's "Were You a Writer Today" post) like a mad woman. This library time has been the highlight of my summer. I can’t wait to get to Charlottesville and scope out a good place for my writing sessions. I need a not so busy coffee shop with free wifi, Universe, okay? I really don’t care where I do it as long as I get 3 hours a day in. Our class schedule is very light at UVA the first year(1 poetry workshop + 1 elective & no teaching the first year) so I have no excuse not to meet this goal.

3. Enjoy myself- This could actually prove to be the hardest one for me. I have family obligations and not a lot of free time, except on weekdays during elementary school hours like (8am-330pm). So my plan is to make myself available for lunch/coffee dates with any of my classmates. I’ll be the go-to girl for anything anyone wants to do in the daytime. Also, success is fun, so what really still matters is that I accomplish #1 on the list.

What are some of your goals?


  1. My Goals

    1. Write good poems. I especially want to work on getting a better handle on being more conscious about line breaks and use of conventional grammar.

    2. Establish a regular writing routine. I'm not sure if it'll be for longer periods 3 days a week or shorter periods every day, but I want to be more disciplined about giving my poetry the time it deserves. No waiting for inspiration!

    3. Establish a regular submission sending routine. I have entirely too much good work hiding away on my computer.

    4. Get teaching experience. I want my resume to be positively shiny when I apply for my first instructor position.

    3. Get a publishing internship. In case I can't find a teaching position I need a fallback, plus my partner and I were talking about starting a small press someday. Now is probably my best chance to get some practical experience.

    4. Get better at performing my poetry. I want to get over my fear of the microphone. Engaging with an audience at an open mike allows you to learn so much about the strengths and weaknesses of your work if you can get past the self consciousness enough to read the responses of the people in front of you. When I'm not writing, teaching, or taking classes, I plan to be at open mikes.

    5. Pay more attention to my mental and physical health. I tend to be a bit of a self-destructive work-a-holic when left to my own devices. Then I burn out and the cycle starts all over again. I want to learn how to break the cycle.

  2. I write every single day, but I don't know that I would be able to continue that through an MFA program. It's one of the more minor of the fears I have about pursuing an MFA.

  3. I lived in Charlottesville for about 6 months but it was a while ago. I, however, found their downtown mall area lovely and the library is in that area too.

    And, of course, there is always Panera :)

    Can't wait to follow your progress!

  4. My goals:

    1) Become a better poet
    2) Learn to cook more dishes
    3) Get my license (I know, I know, how old am I?)
    4) Get a vehicle
    5) Start drawing again

    These are good starters anyway...

  5. My goals for before school starts:

    1. Write at least a paragraph a day
    2. Read all of Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke
    3. Re-read some Shakespeare
    4. Re-read some Greek Tragedy
    5. Attend Bikram Yoga class everyday

  6. My goals:

    1. Continue writing five days a week.
    2. Read more, especially more benchmark story collections.
    3. Jogging--more frequently than I am now at least, maybe three days a week.
    4. Start my own collection of stories.
    5. Learn blues scales on guitar.

  7. I made this list the day I accepted my offer from U. of Baltimore.

    *to make many friends and contacts
    *to discover and develop my voice and poetics
    *to develop a daily writing practice
    *to learn how to revise and to know when a poem is finished
    *to improve my poetry reading (understanding) skills
    *to improve my critical senses in regard to the other writers in my workshops
    *to consistently send out my work for attempted publication
    *to learn elements of bookbinding
    *to learn elements of graphic design for both print and web publishing
    *to be more confident when reading my poetry aloud
    *to discover many more poets whose work I love
    *to be an asset to the MFA program and to UB and help in any way I can
    *to find my way to a career path

  8. wow, everyone has such interesting and well thought out goals! I have stolen a few of these for my own list, especially the publishing and graphic design stuff.

  9. It's great to read everyone's goals. Mine are as follows:

    1. To write a lot! And to write the best poetry I can. To learn from my teachers and fellow students and from the new experiences I will have. To synthesize all of that in with my own existing voice.

    2. To teach. To learn as much as I can about the theory and practice of teaching and to be the best instructor I can.

    3. To learn to network. I've never been good at this, but I'm hoping to learn and to make a lot of friends and professional connections.

    4. To take a non-fiction class.

    5. To put together a cohesive collection of poetry.

    6. To develop good writing and submission habits. This should really be #2, or part of #1.

  10. Hey JT,

    This isn't so much a goal as a request that we link the websites to our respective programs in the sidebar beneath our names. I think it's good promotion for our programs!

  11. Here are a couple of my goals:

    1. Read all the books on my reading list by the end of the MFA.
    2. Get published in all three genres.
    3. Submit one piece every month for the next two years, starting in September.
    4. Get a corgi.
    5. Write ten pages a week (single-spaced).

    I think that's enough for now, heh.


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