Month: September 2016

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/ccamfacomics/

Eric Wong Introduction (California College of the Arts ’18)

Image: CCA MFA Comics What exactly is an MFA in comics? It’s the opportunity to be on the cutting edge by learning and refining one’s storytelling capabilities in a medium that’s only just starting to be explored. It also means a lot of sleepless nights cranking out comics as you spend July doing a semester’s worth of work in the span of four weeks, for four courses. Then after the summer classes are done, you spend the month of August on the summer assignment which is to create a twelve page diary comic, fully drawn and inked, due literally a day before the beginning of the fall term in the first week of September. If being an MFA student is like being thrown into the deep end of the pool to see if you sink or swim, then an MFA student in comics is like being thrown into the English Channel. In winter. For someone whose undergraduate background is in creative writing and comics theory and has took only one art class since middle school, …

Craig Knox Introduction (Rutgers-Camden ’19)

People like me don’t get MFA degrees. (…) The idea of pursuing an MFA first started to form when my workshop professor asked me to come to his office one night after class. Years before, this would have been because I wasn’t turning in homework, failed tests or just stopped showing up to class. This time, it was because the professor saw himself in my essay on Kim Addonizio’s book of poems Tell Me. “You can do what I do,” he told me. “This could be your future,” he said.

Autumn Approaches Albuquerque (Cada día Cuenta)

From the List-server into my inbox: Greetings all, We are nearing the midpoint already … 2nd Half begins 10/17, right after the end of Fall Break on the 13th and 14th! Approaching Autumn in Albuquerque and the end of a third semester in a six semester degree, tick tock goes the outer clock and wow much has changed. Basically, I’m out of workshop-landia, I can take more if I want, and there are dissertation hours and optional independent studies, but I’m focused on getting my literature (James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence) and professional development credits (Grant and Proposal Writing and Job Seeking) out of the way so the third year can be write write, and done so right. Do I know what my dissertation will be? Of course, he slaps his knee guffawingly, of course, I know, who doesn’t? I have a thousand ideas and can only marry one. Isn’t life just a simple process of narrowing choices? So what have I learned by coming back? I’ve taken over as Fiction Editor at The Blue Mesa Review …

Tafisha A. Edwards Introduction (Southern Illinois University Carbondale ’18)

 Is That All There Is? Image: Veeresh Dandur For reasons that still mystify me, I know at least half the words to Peggy Lee’s 1969 anthem for the disillusioned. What a melodic string of disappointments. The Peggy that sings the song survived inferno, circus, falling in love—and was consistently underwhelmed by each experience. Really, for all the fuss about property damage, plumed elephants, and flood hormones she is confronted by this: her imagination is much more interesting than life. I don’t know what I thought would happen once I moved to Carbondale. Well, I do know; I expected to become a granola baking, marathon running, make-your-own-soap kind of person. I would grow herbs on my windowsill. I’d have a completed book! As soon as I unpacked it would all pour forth. Needless to say that isn’t what happened. I’m still anxiety ridden. I still have no energy to make granola, or a desire to really eat it. I only have a snake plant in my apartment because they are notoriously hard to kill (among its …

Julian Randall Introduction (University of Mississippi ’19)

We Ain’t Even ‘posed to Be (Here): The Brown Boy Considers Mississippi On His First Day Image: Visit Mississippi I swore we would not begin in history, but I am a remixer of promises where it suits me which is a pretty way of saying that I knew that was a lie when I swore it to myself. It is a morning in the thick suck of August in a future I would have called a lie less than a year ago, not just a lie but a bold lie. That I might at the end of the indisputably hardest thus far year of my life be an MFA candidate, Black as I am, Brown as I am? Unlikely. That I might do so in Mississippi was something for which dialogue around the South had never truly prepared me. Where my family and the concept and reality of South have historically met is always a matter of flight. I am what some might call African American and I call Black on my father’s side. 136 …

Kenzie Allen Introduction (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee PhD): Poetry as Ritual

Poetry as Ritual Image: Jan van de Velde II. Young witch. Engraving. 1626. I’m trying to explain the diastic method to Andreas. I’m pacing my spare apartment, drawing diagrams in the air with my fingers, and there’s no furniture to trip over and no other humans around to interrupt me so I ramble on for some time about algorithms and experimental production and Andreas tells me it sounds like a cauldron spell, which sounds about right. “Poetry as practiced, magickal ritual,” I say. “That’s what this whole thing is.” The workload for the PhD-as-magickal-working is pretty intense, but by this point so, surprisingly, are my reading skills. Without realising when this started, I’m finally able to get through a text pretty efficiently, which may help me keep up with the two or three books a week we’ll be assigned this semester. Of course, all the readings are fascinating and all relatable to a future dissertation, damn them. Every human here is fascinating and relatable to a future dissertation committee (or a coffee date). Even after just this first …

Daria Miyeko Marinelli Introduction (UT Austin ’19)

The Basics Name: Daria Miyeko Marinelli Age: 28 Hometown: Hartsdale, NY Day Job: Figure Skating Instructor Program: University of Texas in Austin Degree: MFA in Playwriting Size of Program: 4 (2 in Theatre and Dance, 2 w Michener Center for Writers) Financial Situation: Combo of Loans, Fellowship, TAing, Teaching Skating Applications Also Applied To (Size): Yale (3), Brown (2), Juilliard (4-5), Hunter (5), Brooklyn (5) Rounds Applied: 2 First Year: 1 School, Brown Second Year: 6, See Above On Writing The Cocktail Party Pitch: I write immersive theatre and work that seeks to redefine the theatre going-experience. What That Actually Means: I like writing work where you’re not just sitting and watching. Maybe you’re wandering around, maybe you’re eating something. I like writing work that’s experiential (whatever that means) and weird. I like work that surprises you. Other Things You’ll Find in My Work: Strong female protagonists, because, yes. Wild broken things. Poetic stage directions. The agony of choice and the suffering of love. Literary Heroes: Tess Slesinger, Arundhati Roy, Ebony Stewart, Faulkner, Salinger, Junot …

Natalie Lima Introduction (University of Alabama ’19)

Photo Credit: facebook.com/AlabamaFTBL Today is the first home football game of the season. It’s early September in the Deep South—Tuscaloosa, AL—and the streets are empty because the game is under way. There are no cars on the road. No people in line at Target. There’s not much to do, except maybe write. But I’ve been struggling with this part, the writing thing. At twenty-nine, I applied to MFA programs for precisely this reason: the time and space to write. People warned me that the degree would be useless. Don’t spend a dime on it, they said. So I didn’t. I applied to fully-funded programs, two years in a row. On my second round, I got into two and wait-listed at a third. At the program I chose, I received a great diversity fellowship, and I’m earning enough money to live on. I have an apartment with giant windows and tons of sunlight. Everything is just as I wanted, just as I envisioned an ideal writing setting. Yet, for some reason, I’ve been struggling to put …

Jess Silfa Introduction Part Deux: Brooklyn College ’18 Edition

Image: Sven-Kåre Evenseth I never thought this could be my life. Since starting grad school I’ve been giddy. Excited. Thrilled beyond belief. The summer was a slow, ticking rise up the roller coaster track and these last two weeks in grad school have been the wondrous fall. I’m still feeling the adrenaline.  I already wrote an introduction of sorts back when I was an applicant blogger here at The MFA Years—feel free to read it if you haven’t already. Since my last blog post I chose to attend Brooklyn College. I packed up my apartment near Columbia University and moved with my roommate to Flatbush to be closer to the school. So far everything about Brooklyn College is what I wanted in a school environment: it’s accessible, near family, and the faculty is wonderful. So are the other students. There are fifteen of us in the fiction concentration and we see each other every week. We’re all in one fiction seminar together and then split up between the various workshops offered by the program. The fiction …

Alexandra McLaughlin Introduction (Georgia College & State University ’19)

On my first morning in Milledgeville, Georgia, I woke up to my sister saying, “Zig, don’t freak out, but I just saw a cockroach in the bathroom.” I’d decided to apply for MFA programs ten months earlier. It was October of my senior year of undergrad and I already felt anxious about what would come next. I’d heard countless stories about the difficulty of post-grad life—how hard it is to make friends, how isolated and lost you feel without the structure and rhythm of college. I decided a) I didn’t want to live in Minnesota forever and b) I wanted to find some sort of post-grad community. Then I discovered many MFA programs offer a creative nonfiction track, and it seemed like exactly what I was looking for. In college, I’d vacillated between a love for journalism and a love for creative writing. Creative nonfiction seemed to blend the two. If I could get into a fully-funded program, I’d have two or three years to develop my craft while getting paid to do so. I …