All posts tagged: University of Wyoming

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 …

An Inside Look With Kate Peterson, Eastern Washington University ’14

What was it like living in Cheney? How far does your stipend go there living wise? EWU’s main campus is in Cheney, so this is where the undergraduate classes are held (and where TAs teach classes) but the MFA program is housed on the satellite campus in Spokane. Almost all of the MFA candidates choose to live in Spokane since this is where all of our classes are held, and also where all of the internship and program/faculty offices are located. So, there have been some folks in the program who prefer the small-town feel of Cheney over Spokane, but most people live in Spokane and drive or take the free bus to Cheney (about a twenty five minute ride) when they teach. Spokane is a very livable city. When I came to the program I was just returning to the states after working abroad as an au pair, so I didn’t have a lot of money saved. I took out a small loan even though I had tuition remission and a stipend, because I …

Navigating the MFA Application Process: An Interview With Sarah Duncan

Image: AI_HikesAZ How many programs did you apply to? How did you narrow your list down? I applied to about 8 programs—one of which was not an MFA, but an MA in Expressive Arts Therapies. I could see myself taking a few different paths, so I wanted to see what the applications brought me before I made my decision. I narrowed my list down based on the programs themselves. I was looking for programs that didn’t seem too pretentious or too steeped in the white western cannon; I wanted programs that allowed for other study, like a minor or a dual focus; I wanted programs that allowed for multiple kinds of teaching opportunities; I did look at rank, but not very seriously; I looked at the way the programs presented themselves to students, and if they made it difficult or easy to apply. I also looked at only fully funded programs, because for an MFA I wasn’t looking to go into too much debt (though I don’t judge anyone who does!) How did you approach your …

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 …

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 …

An Inside Look With Chelsea Biondolillo, University of Wyoming ’13

Image: Jimmy Emerson What was it like living in Laramie? How far does your stipend go there living wise? Living in Laramie was conducive to writing, which is to say that there’s not a whole lot else to do during many of the long winter nights. It gets cold there, -25 and more, and the wind is such a constant, you might find the natural volume of your voice ratcheting up a notch. Winter makes summer all the more amazing however, and you will cram a lot of living into your (partially funded) summer break between years 1 & 2. Throughout the year there is a minimum of nightlife and an abundance of nearby outdoor adventures (rock climbing, camping, hiking, caving, river kayaking, birding, wildlife watching or hunting, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing–plus you can rent almost any gear (except guns, of course) from the school’s outdoor program, including hiking boots–though I’d recommend you bring some with you). The town was much more pleasant toward students generally than many other college towns I’ve lived in. I was …

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 …