Thursday, August 27, 2009

Introduction and Other Bits and Pieces

Hello all!

I thought I'd take a minute from reading and finally introduce myself! My name is Raina Fields.

I started my first year of Virginia Tech's MFA program in poetry this week. I graduated from Loyola College in Baltimore in 2008 with a B.A. in music and writing. I spent a year working for The Philadelphia Orchestra before I started graduate school.

I'll admit I did get tired of the same sort of urban life in Philadelphia and Baltimore and was drawn to the sort of small-town life that Blacksburg would offer. So far, it's been great. My life has been in full-speed this entire summer. I bought my first car, stopped working, packed my things and moved into my first apartment. The first couple of days in Blacksburg, I was too exhausted by the move that I fashioned cut up trashbags into a shower curtain and slept on the floor. The ten hour drive from Philadelphia (thanks to the U-Haul trailer) was just too much. Haha!

This week has been full of emotions, wavering from "Omg! I am so happy and blessed to have this sort of opportunity! I am up and ready to take full-advantage of everything presented to me!" to "What?! Why am I doing this to myself? Is it time for bed, yet?! Was I really on campus for 12+ hours today?!" It's all in good, clean, educational fun, though. As everyone is telling me, this is the time of transition and it will get better.

A bit about the program: We have seven new MFA students, 3 poets and 4 fiction writers. I believe we are all signed up for 18 feisty credits of English and Graduate School courses. My schedule this semester includes courses in Teaching Composition, New Media Writing, Poetic Forms, as well as a Poetry Workshop, a series of Graduate TA workshops, and Library Research workshops. My Teaching Composition course is 6 hours and includes students from the MFA program, MA and PhD in composition and rhetoric programs, which is pretty interesting! There also some experience teachers in the classroom, so everyone is pretty varied on the teaching spectrum, but we're all excited and ready to learn more to impart on our students!

While we don't teach this semester, we do get to assist in teaching a course and then next semester, we are given our own classroom! WOW! Haha! Also, this semester, we work in the Writing Center, assisting students in their writing papers and projects.

So far, I have to say my favorite course has been New Media taught by Ed Falco. It's been really interesting learning the basis of hypertext writing. We also have some great reading coming up, including Carole Maso's Ava and Nabokov's Pale Fire, two precursors to the hypertext writing movement. Yesterday in class, we all did a "exquisite corpse" and had to write a line based on a picture we were given and we linked certain words in the lines to other students' lines. It was fun and interactive and I love that! Our final project is that we all create our own hypertext writing. Wow! We even get to use Dreamweaver! I love technology :)

I'm also really excited for my Poetry Workshop tonight. I'm sure it will be fabulous! The thing I'm most nervous about is my current lack of creative writing. I'm in that stage where I haven't written a poem in a long time. I'm contemplating by giving introductions as "Hi I'm Raina! I used to be a poet! I hit my peak and now I'm struggling through graduate school pretending to be a talented writer! What's your name?!" I can only be proactive and do one thing and write, so that is a challenge I (and the program) has and that's what I will do. But in the meantime, PRAY FOR ME! Haha!

Well, it's back to reading Aristotle's Poetics! Best of luck to everyone who already started! I can't wait to read your stories :)


  1. Hi Raina -- Aristotle's Poetics taught me more about storytelling than any other book. What great reading to start off with!

  2. Yay Raina's here! I'm learning that the fear you have, that you may have reached your peak in your writing sample is pretty common. That was my biggest fear too! I'm sure you're pen has only been quiet in preparation for you to take your poetry to a new level. Your classes all sound very interesting, especially the new media one.

  3. ah i remember the GAP or the Black Hole as I called it :) I had only started writing again (after 6 years not) for six months when i started my MFA program. Just being around those other writers will probably get you going!

  4. I understand that fear too, Raina. I haven't been doing much writing lately, and I'm afraid I won't be able to come up with anything good to workshop!

  5. Pale Fire is the best novel ever :D

  6. Nikki Giovanni teaches poetry there, doesn't she? I would love to learn from her.

  7. Jennifer - Thanks! I'm really excited about applying those concepts to my works.

    JayTee - Thanks for understanding. It's nice to hear that others get it!

    Jessie - Wow, that is great! I do feel a surge of inspiration when I'm sitting in class and people are reading their poetry -- or even talking. Let's hope this will translate to the page.

    Emily - Best wishes to you, too!

    Denis - Thanks! I'm really excited to be reading it.

    Keith - Yes! I saw her in the hallway the other day and she remembered me from my visit! I was ecstatic! :D

  8. Wow--that's a LOT of credits! Best of luck! I think it's interesting that you're working in the Writing Center in conjunction w/ your first semester classes. Let me know how that goes! I am also working as a tutor in the Writing Center this year, but it's an extra job that I picked up because I love Writing Centers. Yup, nerdy.

  9. Yeah, and I'm also interested to hear how the Writing Center goes for you. Next year I'll have the option of doing that instead of teaching (though right now I think I'd rather teach).

  10. Hello Raina,

    Lawrence Ross, author of The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities, emailing! I'm also the founder of the National MFA Association at and I've been trying to get in contact with all of the new MFA's who are writing with the MFA Chronicles. We'd like you guys to also write at our website. We're about to have a lot of press and I think you'll get a lot more exposure there. Could you email me at Thanks!


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