Thursday, January 17, 2013

Love Letter to my MFA Program

This blog post is a little late in coming. For the past two years, I've posted about my Converse College MFA residency within a few days of returning home. It has been nearly a full week since I got back this time, and all I can say is, well, I suppose I really don't want it to be over.

I have had the privilege of working one-on-one with amazing poets. Denise Duhamel helped me begin the program, and she was my mentor for my creative thesis at the end. Her enthusiasm and clear love of poetry are infectious. Sarah Kennedy, Suzanne Cleary, R.T. Smith; I cannot say enough about how each of them has influenced my writing in distinctly different ways.

As for the rest of the faculty, what a wonderful group of writers and teachers. Craft lectures in fiction by Leslie Pietrzyk and Marlin "Bart" Barton can always be counted on for humor and really good advice that can be used by any writer in any genre. Susan Tekulve's lectures on travel writing and nonfiction are informative and interesting. Rick Mulkey pulls everything together as director, and he gives a great talk on poetry, too.

Did I mention that the faculty readings made me buy lots of their books? I've read them all, and I recommend that you do the same.

As for the visiting writers, agents, and editors, wow. What a collection of people to meet and spend time with. I was only there for three days this past, graduating residency, but I got to meet and get to know Bruce Covey and Ed Falco, both fantastic writers and genuine people who spent a lot of time with us discussing the publishing world and the big question "where do we go from here?"

The students I've grown close with...let's just say that this is the first time in my education history, and I've earned a few degrees, that I feel real sorrow and longing for the camaraderie that comes with a wonderful group of friends. We will keep in touch, and we will see each other now and again, but that does not compare to the knowledge that come June or January, they would be there, writing, laughing, singing, listening.

So this is my love letter to the Converse College MFA program in creative writing. I didn't use specific details because that would take forever, and this is a blog post. I'm sure that it is incomplete, and I apologize in advance for the fog of memories that has come over my brain as I type. If you are involved in the program, I thank you. If you are considering a program, check this one out. The best advertisement I can give is the same compliment I gave in my last reading: I came into this program wanting a terminal degree so I could get a tenure-track job. I am leaving it a poet.

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