Monday, April 17, 2006

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Blustery in Brooklyn writes...

In my weekend of desperation, my weekend in which I must decide between Johns Hopkins and Hunter, I have discovered that you are the MFA web guru. You seem to have a high opinion of Hunter. Or, so I've gathered from your blog. Hopkins I found dry, academic and mired in theory when I visited Thursday. Hunter I found lively, energetic and full of interesting people, students and faculty. Peter Carey really really gives a damn. And he doesn't actually have to work there. However, Hopkins has funding. But it would require a move from me from Brooklyn to Baltimore. I don't know if I want to be displaced, but is what they're offering really too much to give up.

First of all, I'm definitely not the MFA guru. I just know more than most because I've spent some time studying the subject. Call me the bus driver.

I'm completely man-facting here, since I don't know the specifics: No, I don't think that any program is too good to pass up, especially since you seem really excited about Hunter, and you also seem excited about staying in Brooklyn. One caveat: One reason I wanted to go away for my MFA was to actually get away from my life. As much as I love my family and friends, I knew I wouldn't have the writing time if I stayed around them. But that may be my particular situation.

What I'm hearing in your email: I like Brooklyn. I'm excited about Hunter. I want to make sure I'm not passing on a no-brainer at Johns Hopkins.

You're not, in my opinion, though I think highly of Hopkins. Go with your gut.


Anonymous said...

I was also accepted to Hopkins for fiction and decided to go there. I was afraid that I'd find the program too stuffy and dry, but actually found that the opposite was the case. I spent a week there, and I thought the faculty was anything but theory-driven. Alice McDermott is a dedicated teacher and Tristan Davies is hilarious. I don't have a sense of Stephen Dixon's teaching ability yet but I think he's definitely a good person and not caught up in theory. I caroused with the poets almost every night. (The fiction writers this year keep more to themselves.) Keep in mind also that almost all of the fiction students next year will be new-- there are only 2 first year students right now. So it's a bit of a gamble with who will be coming in, but on the other hand, incoming students can really influence the flavor of the workshops in a positive way.

Anonymous said...

As one of the fiction students, I can say that the faculty, as well as my student colleagues, are outstanding. We've had great personal and creative experiences. And yes, we do "carouse," though the prior poster has not joined us.

The writers in this workshop are carefully selected from applicants around the world. Our program limits the number of accepted students, and we are lavished with attention from brilliant writers who sincerely care about your development. More succinctly, and most importantly, we have become better writers.

Any writer able to choose between MFA programs is fortunate. It sounds like you'll be happy at Hunter. Their faculty is phenomenal, of course, as is their program. Digs at the current faculty/students at Hopkins should be unnecessary in making this decision.