2015, Archives, May 2015, The MFA Years

An Inside Look With Jordi Alonso, Stony Brook Southampton ’16

What is it like living in Southampton? How far does your stipend go there living wise?

Living in a summer colony year round feels odd. There is a lot to do, but only from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the rest of the year, the options are much more limited. There are a couple of theatres, a library, and a number of great restaurants and coffeehouses, so most of my time is spent around books, food, and plays—all good things to be surrounded by while writing. I have a Graduate Assistant stipend, and I’m also the first W. Burghardt Turner Fellow at Stony Brook Southampton, so with the handsome financial package that comes with the Fellowship added on, and with my parents to fall back on if I need to, I can definitely live comfortably in the East End.

How has the program equipped you for and supported you during your teaching assistantship?

I was supposed to be lined up to teach next semester, but having just been put on the fast track for graduation (which means I’ll complete everything in two years instead of three) the teaching requirement was waived. That being said, I took a pedagogy practicum in the fall of 2014, during which I student taught an undergraduate creative writing class once or twice after learning about various methods of teaching. I’ve also taught a few high-school courses, which would have been much more difficult without the practicum.

What is the workshop environment like?

The workshop environment is (most often) focused, supportive, and enlightening. Generally, the ethos is very laid back. Nobody tries to rewrite anybody else’s work, which is wonderful, given the horror stories I’ve heard from certain friends trying to become better writers at other places or in more informal contexts.

What is your MFA experience like outside of the classroom?

As well as working as a Graduate Assistant, I’m an Editorial Assistant for The Southampton Review, so I get to continue experiencing the inner workings of a journal after undergrad. Southampton (being a satellite campus of SUNY Stony Brook) has myriad opportunities for readings. You can attend readings on campus every week at 7 as part of the Writers Speak Southampton series and every Monday at 7 at the Manhattan campus. On top of that, there’s a reading series on Wednesdays at 1 at the Stony Brook campus where I’ve had the pleasure of both reading myself when the University asked me to read Honeyvoiced, and listening to poets like Michelle Whittaker and translators like Rita Nezami.

How does the program foster its MFA community?

The program fosters community by, aside from having readings, organizing game nights and events. For example, a few weeks ago we were invited to a literary murder mystery night that took place in the campus’s historic 19th century windmill.

What’s something about Stony Brook’s MFA that can’t be found on the program website, that you think potential applicants should know about?

Something that you don’t find on the Stony Brook Southampton website that applicants should know about is that whether you’re meeting the Artistic Director of Guild Hall for coffee and to chat about bringing your poems to the stage, or going to a reading to see Alice Fulton only to find that she’s already followed you on twitter not five minutes after you asked her a question at her Q&A session,  there’s no better place to do networking than in the Hamptons.

Image: Brooklyn Museum


Jordi Alonso graduated with an AB in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Kenyon College in the spring of 2014, where he studied poetry and literary translation. He currently is a Turner Fellow in Poetry at SUNY Stony Brook Southampton and has been published or has work forthcoming in The Southampton Review, Edible, The Colorado Review, Graze, and other journals. His first book, a collection of erotic poems inspired by Sappho entitled Honeyvoiced was published by XOXOX Press in November of 2014. He is currently working on a poetic cookbook.

If you’re a current student or a recent graduate of a creative writing program and are interested in being interviewed, visit our submissions page.

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