May 14

Researching MFA Programs

Recently I’ve had a few conversations with students considering applying to MFA programs sometime in the future. The first step, I always say, is research, and summer, of course, is the perfect time to start researching.

On the Long River Review blog, the fabulous Jerome Daily, who just graduated from the University of Connecticut and is heading to the University of New Hampshire’s MFA, is sharing his experiences and tips.

In the meantime, Publishers Weekly, has a whole special section: M.F.A. Survey 2014, which includes a good overview of the various programs, interviews with publishing professionals, as well as interviews with some writers who teach in MFA programs.

Dec 13


mfa vs nycI am reading an advanced copy of a fascinating collection, MFA v NYC, edited by Chad Harbach of The Art of Fielding and n+1. (Full disclosure: I was interviewed for this book and some of my answers appear on its pages.) The concept: “In a widely-read essay [of the same title], bestselling novelist Chad Harbach argued that the American literary scene has split into two cultures: New York publishing versus university MFA programs. This book brings together established writers, MFA professors and students, and New York editors and agents to talk about these overlapping worlds, and the way writers make (or fail to make) a living within them.” Continue reading →

Oct 13

Life After MFA

Earlier this year, me and several other Syracuse MFA alums, returned to our alma mater to discuss this very subject at a panel organized by our beloved professor, Arthur Flowers. Is there life after the MFA? What is the nature of “literary success”? Not surprisingly, we weren’t the only ones puzzling over these questions. In fact, faculty and students in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Purdue have put together a website, The Writer’s Job, to address them. The site, though still new, has among other things, a section on submitting work to literary journals, a post about the benefits of subscribing to Duotrope, a series of power point slides on finding a literary agent, and a section on making a living (its categories include teaching, publishing, journalism, business writing, nonprofit, freelance, and other jobs). Regardless of where you are in your writing career, this site is definitely worth exploring.

Sep 13

Personal Statements and More

Sometime last winter, the wonderful writer Brian Evenson, who also happens to be the director of the Creative Writing program at Brown, posted on his Facebook page an 11-point list, Advice for Future MFA Applicants. “Please feel free to steal, revise, mutilate, or dispute,” he wrote, so I saved it and indeed shared it with my Creative Writing students that semester.

Just the other day someone contacted me about crafting a personal statement for an MFA application and I went looking for this list on my very cluttered computer. Fortunately, though, Los Angeles Times were clever enough to publish it on their site. So here it is, available to all prospective MFA applicants.

Sep 13

The MFA question

It’s that time of year. College seniors begin to contemplate their future, and the questions about MFA programs begin to pour in. Some students have done quite a bit of research already, while others seem to know almost nothing. So naturally I end up scrambling for good links and old handouts with articles, tables, and FAQs.

So here’s something to start with — Continue reading →

Sep 13

Post-MFA Resources

Here’s another treasure, which I only discovered today: a site, created by the wonderful Erika Meitner, that brings together all sorts of useful post-MFA resources, including fellowships, residencies, academic and non-academic jobs, additional degrees, and international opportunities. Even though it’s aimed primarily at MFA students/grads, the site will be useful to writers who are not in an MFA program yet and/or not planning to go to one.