I’m a MFA Student: There, I said it.

Let’s not pretend that the validity and value of the MFA is still a hot topic. At the very least, it’s warm enough to warrant air-conditioning. I’m not going into a rant because, frankly, a lot of other people are much better at the whole sound & fury bit. I will simply say that the voices of actual students are often drowned out in arguments over something that is obviously very close to our lives. Recently, a friend criticized me for interviewing mfa graduates because.. well, what could they possibly have to say about writing? My answer: a lot. And anyone who disagrees probably should find another blog to start reading.

I genuinely am enjoying my MFA experience. Being able to work with a diverse faculty and student body has made all the difference. To say nothing of the countless opportunities I’ve be afforded in the last year alone, thanks in large part to my writing mentors. If you don’t want to get an MFA degree, then don’t. No one is making you. In the meantime, let the rest of us get on with our education.

And because I’m not totally one sided, here are some links.

Robert Peak shares what he learned during his MFA Program at Pacific University.

Louis Menand wonders if creative writing can, and should, be taught?

And J.A. Roebling responds to Menand’s article.

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5 responses to “I’m a MFA Student: There, I said it.

  1. I’m with you, Saeed. If you don’t want one, don’t get one. But I LOVED getting mine, and I’m enjoying teaching classes in an MFA program now. The best part? Talking about poetry with people who care about poetry. How can that be some kind of horrible thing that ruins people’s writing?

  2. I absolutely agree, Jeannine. From discussions about books that my friends are reading to their friendship and creative feedback, it’s hard for me to see how these are bad things. I understand that some people believe that the MFA (or workshop) experience impacts how we view our own work and that may be true, but it’s important that you go into a MFA program with a clear understanding of where you stand creatively. At the end of the day, I have to write poems that I am proud of.

  3. Glad you’re lovin your MFA experience. A few years back I was at an emerging writers conference where 3 of the 4 panelists all loved their time in their respective MFA programs with all of them citing that it was the first time they had been so immersed in a writing community. Maybe writers who have access to so many literary events, a diverse selection of local bookstores and the ability/desire to create personal connections with established writers take it for granted that a writing community is not available to everyone.

    Oh yeah, the lone holdout from the writers’ conference didn’t have an opinion on MFA programs because she never attended one.

  4. That’s a very good, point, Oscar. Some of us wouldn’t have the privilege of being included in writing communities were it not for MFA programs.

  5. Hi — I just saw that you’d linked to one of my posts about MFA programs. Thanks! Not sure why you called me J.A. Roebling, though? I’m Shelley Ettinger. Anyway, I’ve just been looking at your blog and enjoying it. As you’ll know if you read my post, I’m jealous too! That you’re in the Rutgers program, I mean. Seriously, though, all the best, and thanks again for linking to my blog. –Shelley

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