Thursday, August 13, 2009

Which faculty members are you excited to work with?

by Marita Siddal

Seems as though most people here considered MFA programs holistically rather than following a particular established poet to their teaching grounds in hopes of becoming a singular protege. Even so, I'm sure plenty of us have faculty members who get us particularly revved for the semester! I'm intensely curious to know who intrigues each of you (and why).

(Fiction writers, any advice would be appreciated as well. The way VCFA works, I'll pref a few faculty members and then I'll be assigned to one as my mentor next semester -- and I'm not as familiar with the in's and out's of critiquing fiction as I am poetry.)


  1. One of the reasons I accepted my offer at OSU, and applied in the first place, was to work with the amazing poet, Henri Cole.

    I first heard him read at a the Hammer Museum (close to the UCLA campus) three years ago and was spellbound by his poems, most of which appeared the following year in his book Blackbird and Wolf.

    I found out last month that Henri will be faculty advisor. I couldn't be happier. I feel his sensibilities speak to my own. However, I also excited to work with Kathy Fagan and Andrew Hudgins, particularly as I am less familiar with them there is more to learn!

  2. Henri Cole gave a reading at my alma mater -- he's an alumn himself -- on Valentine's Day of my freshman year! Brilliant poems, and he has such a rich and soft voice . . . very excited for you!

  3. Tory - if you get a chance to take a class with Lee Abbott, I think you'll love him. He's a fiction writer, so I'm not sure if you will, but he's incredibly nice and smart and encouraging.

    As for me, I guess I'm excited about everyone. The two full-time poetry faculty at Penn are Julia Kasdorf and Robin Becker; I love Robin's poems, and Julia has also published a NF book that really spoke to me (it's called The Body and the Book and is basically about being a female writing from, in, or about a conservative religious tradition). Julia will actually be on sabbatical in the spring, but Todd Davis is doing the poetry workshop that semester, and his work is gorgeous as well.

    And there are truly brilliant people teaching the lit and theory and rhetoric classes as well. So I'm just excited in general :)

  4. The two permanent faculty at UVA are Gregory Orr and Rita Dove. They are in the process of hiring someone to replace Charles Wright (who retired). In their words, this person will be younger than Rita and Greg. I'm hoping grad students get to take part in the hiring process somehow, because I want to know what that's like. But yeah, one of the alumni raved about Greg Orr which really has me amped to take his poetry workshop this fall. I've been reading his work and, based on that, I can't wait to hear his insights. I'm also very excited to get a chance to work with Rita Dove. I read all the info about her on her website and that has me even more pumped up.

  5. Rita Dove! That's so exciting. I read one of her poems in an anthology a couple years back, "Geometry" I think, and I still find bits of it popping into my head all the time. She's definitely on my to-read list. I don't know everyone else but they all sound like amazing writers & teachers.

    I'm excited about everyone at Minnesota, too. My first fiction workshop is with M.J. Fitzgerald. The other fiction faculty are Julie Schumacher, Charles Baxter & David Treuer. I haven't met Treuer yet, but I heard him speak and met the other three at the prospectives weekend in March. I've been reading up on their work all summer, and I feel like they all have a lot to offer as writers and teachers. I'm just so excited. Did I mention I'm excited?


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