Monday, December 28, 2009

Obligatory Winter Break/Semester Wrap-Up Post

I'm all Hokie'd out!

Hi Dudes and Dudettes,

Well I must admit it's been quite a while since I last updated, but I'd like to let you all know how things are going at Virginia Tech.

First, I must say this was a hard semester. I didn't think that an MFA program or grad school, in general, would be a breeze, but it was tougher than I expected. I think the hardest thing was the ever-present time management skills...or rather, lack of. Trying to balance social life with school and other commitments was rough. I didn't want to be viewed as anti-social, nor did I want people to stop extending their warm invitations to hang out, so I did sometimes neglect my work.

In addition, I forgot what it was like to just...write! I know it sounds a little silly, but I wasn't writing or concentrating on the things I wanted to do with my writing this semester. My two poetry classes - one a workshop and the other a form class, both focused on forms. I don't really get down with forms, but working with them this semester has been helpful. I just wish I was able to workshop what I wanted to, instead of focusing on villanelles and ghazals that are god-awful and will never see the light of day.

I ended up getting a 20-page teaching portfolio out of my "how to teach composition" course. Wrote a syllabus, three major assignments, as well as other classroom documents for my class that I'll be teaching in the Spring. In addition, I spent half of the semester, observing a PhD student teach the class I'll be teaching next Fall. Also, wrapped up a semester working at the Writing Center. Surprisingly, I felt that throughout the semester, I had an equal number of undergraduate and graduate students. I'm still playing with the idea of returning as a consultant next semester, even though it's not required.

My other classes went okay this semester. There were a few research classes and a New Media creative writing course where strangely, the work I was doing was prose. Ugh. <- Not to all you prose people out there, but why can't I do what I need to be doing!?! lol

In addition to all the classes and social stuff, I survived another few months of the dreaded long distance relationship with my boyfriend. He sent his MFA applications in [again :(] a little over a month ago. He's applying to schools near me, including WVU and UNC, so we'll see how it goes. I'm keeping my fingers, toes, hell, even my eyebrows crossed for him. He's an excellent poet and deserves some good news about school!

I am most excited about the classes I'm taking next semester:

Black American Literature
Editing a Literary Journal [VT has recently acquired the Minnesota Review and the students will oversee the submissions].
Fiction Workshop
Poetry Workshop

I am also toying with the idea of adding another course. Possibly in another department. I am seriously considering working towards a certification in Nonprofit and Nongovernmental Management, as I see it as another option when I finish the MFA. I have a background in nonprofit management, working for several arts organizations and I can see myself returning if the teaching thang doesn't take off right away. The only disappointment in this certification is that it seems Virginia Tech has dissolved their Arts Management program, which upon many searches was active until a few years ago. Yet depending on who I contact, no one has information about it. This is what I was really interested in as a secondary study. And right now, there's only one course being offered in arts and cultural/nonprofit/policy studies. Maybe I'll create my own courses and do independent studies.

In addition to that, I am trying to figure out what I'm doing for the summer and am currently looking at various job opportunities. I am also thinking about what I was my commitments to be for the following semesters. I NEED TO FOCUS MORE ON WRITING. Obviously, that's what I'm in the program for. I just find it hard to focus when I have so many other interests and aspirations. I can't knock those important things out of my head, but I am seeing that it's all about balance.

Well, 2010 will bring a lot of exciting opportunities. I'm going to London and Paris [my first abroad trip] for Spring Break with the BF. I'm presenting at AWP in Denver. And I'm praying for great poetry and many acceptances to lit mags. I'll also be hoping the same for you! We gotta hang in there!

Thanks for reading. I hope you all had a wonderful semester. I'll try checking in a little more often next time!



  1. Good lawd, Raina Fields! Ok...first off, fingers crossed for your boy Ross. Can't wait to hear where he gets in!

    You are doing it big! Doing a lot, yeah, but becoming well-exposed and qualified to do even more. There'll be time to rest later lol!

    Whose leading your workshop this semester?

  2. Thanks, girl. I truly appreciate the support.

    Erika Meitner is leading the workshop. She won the 2009 National Poetry Series and her book will be out from HarperCollins in 2010. I'm excited to work with her.

  3. Hi Raina--I also had a really hard first semester. I'm glad to know I'm not alone!

  4. Hey Jennifer!

    Just glad to make it through it!

    Best wishes for an awesomely successful second semester! You can do it!

  5. wow I'm tired reading all you have done and are going to do! Way to hang in there :)

  6. Whoa. Nice course load. Sounds like you've been learning a ton!

  7. thanks for the newsy update! sounds like you had quite a stressful/busy semester, and i had no idea that you were taking so many classes! even looking at your spring schedule, i think it's amazing that you're considering adding one more class!

    i'm just taking three: an independent study on close reading, a poetry workshop, and a writing class on genre & form. last semester, i took Creative Wri pedagogy, workshop, and nonfiction.

    i'm jealous that you get to take a workshop w/ Erika Meitner; I read a few of her poems for the Indiana Review and loved her style.

    happy new year & good luck with your writing!

  8. Hi Jessie! Thanks a lot! Hang in there, too. :)

    Hi Joshua. Thanks for the support! Appreciate it.

    Hi Bethany! I'm really excited to be working with her. I decided to take a lot of courses because in the fall, students start teaching 2 courses a semester, so I figured better to be a little stressed with one class versus teaching and grading for two. Best of luck at Indiana. How are you enjoying it?!

  9. ohhh, i didn't realize that you had a heavy teaching load next year! now it all makes sense. i have been teaching Intro to CW, but there is a big lecture on M and then i lead a smaller section of about 15 students on W and F. i've enjoyed it a lot. next year, though, i have a 2-1 teaching load of lovely freshman comp. i wish it could be this year, forever.

    Indiana is great--i think my poetry is getting more defined, if that even makes sense. i liked my classes last semester, and my incoming class is pretty close, which is nice.

    you said that working in form is not so much your thing. me either! i would really like to write a good terza rima and a good villanelle before i die, but there's no rush! who/what are you reading right now? i just finished the Bakeless Prize winner Malinda Markham's Ninety-five Nights of Listening, and i loved it! i'm also reading Cate Marvin, Doby Gibson, and Nick Flynn.

  10. Hey Bethany,

    Sorry I'm just responding, lol. Right now, I'm actually reading a lot of fiction.

    Wow! You get to teach creative writing off the bat! That's pretty darn cool.

    I'm going to check out those writers you suggested. I'm a big fan of Nick Flynn.


Related Posts with Thumbnails