Author: Kristine Sloan

Becoming the Killjoy: Confronting Academic Spaces

Finishing up my final semester at University of Wyoming’s MFA felt tumultuous, though I suppose it couldn’t have ended any other way. Many faculty seemed to be leaving UW amidst the school’s large-scale budgeting overhaul due to the collapse of Wyoming’s coal industry last year, nothing new for the state considering its legacy of booms and busts. A new drama was rising afresh within the program as students learned of the manner in which beloved faculty member, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, had been terminated. Further, this was all happening against the backdrop of macro and micro struggles. Each week was some new round of messy political theatre, and meanwhile my friends and I were going through own crises, doing what we could to find moments together to fight through the gloom. After my thesis defense, one of my committee members gave me a letter that contained everything I needed to hear at the end of this stricken road. Even now, I’m holding the letter, reading through it again and finding myself wrecked with the sharp joy of …

Contractual Community: Minority Students’ Place in the Creative Writing Program

Image: Conal Gallagher A lot has happened since the events of last semester as detailed here. I thought about what it might look like for me to give an update on promises given, what has improved, what hasn’t. And yet, I feel like it’d be unnecessary, in a sense, to give another somewhat in-depth barometric of things overall. A problem had been pointed out, namely the program’s inadequate approach, specifically under the helm of the current director, Jeff Lockwood, to address issues uniquely relevant to minority students. A call had been made and had been heard. Anymore expended emotional and intellectual energies, other than acting for the sake of my own survival if necessary, would be undue labor on my part, at least in my view. Then, there’s simply the matter of our program’s change in directors starting next year, from Jeff Lockwood to Brad Watson. So rather than go in that direction, I thought I would discuss a topic endemic to the creative writing program generally: problems with the notion of “community.” (Although, if …

Lessons Learned After Year One

This time last year, when I already held the knowledge that I would be moving out here to Wyoming, I had already mapped out thematic threads and research leads for my to-be book project. I knew where I was going with my writing, so there would be no need to veer off course. This path I had set out for myself seems to me now to reflect two tendencies/impulses of mine that are, on the surface, contradictory: my desire to be exacting and my desire to wander. While I like listing out everything I need to account for and plan accordingly, these plans almost always reflect an unrealistic optimism. I’d like to think of this habit as both a strategy to organize myself, but also as a kind of daydreaming. I like to plot out sky-high possibilities as if it were all actually possible, even if it’s almost never quite within my reach, at least within the initially-charted conditions. As you might guess, this kind of planning has its pros and cons. In the instance …

Challenging the Whiteness of MFA Programs: A Year in Confrontations at UW

Image: Rene Mensen 1: UW vs. POC Last weekend, our program held its annual recruitment weekend, which means that a bunch of acceptees were flown out here to Laramie, on our program’s dime, in order to see for themselves what the town and program are all about. It was lovely meeting the few prospective students that I did, and I’m eager to hear, once acceptances are all squared away, who will be our new incoming cohort for next year. In some ways, I’m sure these potential newcomers received a fair impression of what life is like in the program as well as in the town. In other ways, not quite. (Of course, I didn’t attempt to catalog exhaustive testimonies on this, so forgive me, members of my cohort, if this assertion feels inaccurate.) Bubbling beneath the falsely serene surface of the University of Wyoming’s MFA program is a tension, common to most MFAs, between its minority students and the “apolitical” culture that, while in and of itself is not a crime or aggression, usually results …

Writing Prompts: Navigating Personal Process

Image:Navy Blue Stripes Earlier this month, I attended a writers’ conference called The Home School. This specific iteration was located in Miami, FL (which was an amazing change of scenery from Laramie). The Home School is a fairly new writers’ conference having had its first conference, I believe, in 2014. Its co-founder, and also my workshop mentor, Adam Fitzgerald, seems to place a high emphasis on interdisciplinary practice and how different forms and mediums of art can inform one another. One way in which the conference embodied this spirit was by its optional offerings in a couple different activities. There were collage-making sessions with Todd Colby as well as a variety of exercise classes with Miguel Gutierrez. There were also readings every night by the faculty. While it was all a pretty good time, I want to focus on, or rather list out, some of the writing exercises that me and my workshop peers either did or were recommended for outside of workshop. I say this because we’re all different in how we write, from …

On drawing the line

Image: Eugenia Loli   Walking away from my first MFA poetry workshop has, so far, been an experience of sorting through questions rather than answers. Though I’ve taken workshops in undergrad, my writing has changed a great deal since then, so this is the first time I’ve properly gathered some diverse responses. It’s been tough interpreting which pieces of feedback will serve my aims and which won’t, especially since my classmates write differently than me. After much thought and attempts to put myself in their shoes, I realized that, somehow, somewhere, I need to draw the line. There have been roughly two aesthetic veins I’ve been working with, and the poems I produce in each are ones that I don’t believe, at least in this moment, can be reconciled under one manuscript. One is a more personal lyric which makes use of the page’s negative space as part of the language’s semantics (at least, I hope that is what’s effectively happening). The other can be described, I suppose, as some kind or branch of surrealism …

Does the term “ally” prevent us from forming real solidarity?

Image: Farrukh Something that’s been on my mind lately has been the notion of allyship. As many folk know, there have been various reactions to my previous blog post, specifically to the comment on microaggressions. I feel myself to understand such reactions—how they’re historically situated and, as a result, presently created—because I’ve seen them before. However, I have to acknowledge the situation which helped foster the development of my own working definitions of social justice concepts. In other words, that my worldview is colored by the various ways in which I’m privileged. I have material privilege, light skin privilege, and first world privilege. Honestly, I’m sure there are more ways to conceptualize and categorize the ways that I am privileged for the sake of developing a more thorough framework for understanding how I, and others, experience the world. I say this because I want to take a step toward having a better understanding of the ways in which people reach out to one another across boundaries of marginalization. What does it mean to be an …

Applying to the University of Wyoming? An insider look

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re applying, or at least considering applying, to the University of Wyoming’s MFA program. And for good reason, there’s much that makes this program valuable. However, there are some things I think that you, the applicant, should know, things that aren’t made clear on the website or things you simply wouldn’t be able to know without having an insider source. Yes, I’m your insider source. (As such, I won’t be covering topics or details that are easily available through the website). Faculty First, I should say that the faculty page on UW’s MFA page can be a bit misleading if you don’t pay attention to the small note at the top of the page. There is what is called “core faculty” and “affiliated faculty.” Core faculty teach workshop, chair and serve on theses committees, and participate, in some fashion, in the governance of the program. Affiliated faculty cannot chair these committees, but they can serve on them. Core faculty is the group of folks you should be primarily concerned …

Smallest workshop ever; or, three POCs have weekly film nights

Image: Keoni Cabral The day before the super moon blood moon, a classmate and I decided to do some of our work outside in a park, at least for a little while. This past weekend seemed like it would be the last few days of warm weather before the dreaded autumnal chill would descend upon Laramie. Normally, I enjoy the graceful way the earth seems to transform during the fall season, but Laramie has a daily temperature swing of about forty degrees, something that a constantly cold-bodied person as myself isn’t quite fond of. As the sun’s warmth leaves me, so does my spare time.   So much has happened since this semester began. I’ve formally declared a graduate minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. I’ve also been accepted to The Home School’s upcoming conference in Miami, which will be a week of workshops and readings (a poet I idolize will be there, so I’m pretty stoked). A week and a half ago, a friend and I went to the Jaipur Literature Festival in Boulder, Colorado. …

Kristine Sloan Introduction (University of Wyoming ’17)

On the last day of my job, my supervisor and I exchanged a difficult goodbye. I had come to see my supervisor as something of a guardian-mentor figure since he is also a poet. During my last month of work, he and I had a handful of conversations about craft and literary culture as it stands today. He’s recommended some amazing writers to me; spoke bluntly on the history of rigged writing contests; he even workshopped a poem of mine. Before our final farewell, he told me I should keep in touch with him, told me I wrote well and had potential. Of all the goodbyes, this one hit me the hardest. I had to come to really admire and respect him, and the only thing forcing me to say goodbye was my not-so-committal choice to leave Baltimore for an MFA program. The next morning, I awoke to a strange feeling in my chest. At first, I thought it was anxiety. After a moment, I realized it was not anxiety, but longing. It was easy …