MFA From All Angles Becomes an Incestuous Circle



Poets & Writers, September /October, 2013


Ah, me. We all know what I think of MFA programs by now, how they homogenize talent, hold out false hope, and settle aspiring writers into subsequent incestuous cycles of such.


But let me get a grip.


All right, I’m ready to go on.


This issue provides an index (rating) of MFA programs. Based on what, you ask? Largely on the popularity of programs. i.e., which ones are the most young writers slavering to get into. And believe me, if the articles here speak truth, there’s plenty of this slavering going on; admission is ultra competitive. Of course, class size is a concern: that is, how students can get the most one-on-one attention possible. And cost is another concern that’s handled in creative ways I’m not sure are available to students wishing to enter, say, an engineering or a history degree.

But then what’s the upshot of graduating from MFA? Says Michael Bourne in this issue, “some get tenure track positions in graduate MFA programs…The rest has built careers out of part-time teaching and freelance writing gigs…”

As I keep saying, “ah, me.”

Still there’s a nice article on Montana writer Rick Bass by Michael Washburn. and another on Jesmyn Ward, by Kevin Nance. Save these until last, lest you have to take an overlong shower to rid yourself of all that MFA dreck.


Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.


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