2014, Archives, November 2014, The MFA Years

First semester wrap up

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, my fall semester is almost over. I only have one workshop left which I hate thinking about because it makes me sad. But now is not the time to feel down, it’s the time to celebrate getting through my first semester at UVA!

Here’s a quick wrap up:

Road trips

I travelled to VCU to see Natasha Trethewey read, and to Hollins to attend a Q&A with Li-Young Lee. The Hollins trip ended up being even more exciting than I anticipated because the creative writing faculty invited us along to lunch with Li-Young Lee and the MFA students at Hollins. Everyone in the program was kind and welcoming. I can’t say enough good things about the people we talked to there. Li-Young Lee is ten times cooler than I ever could have imagined him to be. He talked about his love/hate for Wallace Stevens, breath and poetry, and tons of other amazing stuff. I can’t find the notes I wrote down or I’d include more.

Intramural sports

I played intramural softball and water polo with my fellow MFAers. I’ve talked about softball before here. Water polo was a little less fun for me. It was much more physically tasking than softball was and I wasn’t feeling it at first. But once I got used to moving around in my inflatable tube (yes, we played water polo in inner tubes) and got used to playing the game in general, it was enjoyable. Most importantly, we definitely improved throughout the season, and that’s what matters, right?

New poetic forms

Brian Teare reading at The Bridge in Charlottesville

I read several books this semester in my Poetics of Ecstasy class that inspired new poetry of my own. Lucie Brock-Broido’s The Master Letters immediately prompted me to write a long poem and Brian Teare’s Pleasure inspired a two-column poem that can be read left to right and down both sides. I’m not sure if there’s a name for this type of form.

And reading some of my classmate’s poems in workshop led me to experimenting with indention and white space. I’ve discovered I learn more about my poetry when I’m playing with different forms and styles.


Before starting at UVA, I hadn’t submitted to any journals for a long time. Applying for MFA programs last year and finishing undergrad took up most of my energy. I submitted to tons of new journals this semester after workshopping a few poems and getting helpful feedback on them. I haven’t gotten any journal acceptances yet but I have received some encouraging rejection letters, and I was accepted into a summer writing residency program for next year. Win-win.

Larissa Szporluk

Yes, Larissa Szporuk is so wonderful she gets her own heading. She was the Rea Visiting Writer for poetry this year. All of the poetry MFA’s got to meet with her for an hour (though, the sessions ended up going much longer!) and discuss a packet of poems they’d sent her. My session was amazing. She was kind but critical, used tons of awesome metaphors to help me understand how I write poetry and how to go about revising it, and I could tell she put a lot of effort and time into all of the poems I’d sent her. Plus, her craft talk was great; she discussed silence and aposiopesis in poems. I was very sad to see her go!

Image: Cellular Immunity

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