Lucky Brown writes in...
Diversity, specifically race/gender issues and style. I am a black woman, and most of my characters share that background. I worry about going to a program where who I am and who my characters are pose problems to getting the most out of an MFA program. It's tricky, navigating what's a problem of cultural/gendered impasse, and what's a legitimate writing problem. I think I have a good handle on the difference, but the best case scenario would be to to be in an environment where my work--which, by involving marginalized people, does involve touchy issues to varying degrees-- is supported and critiqued. (As opposed to people making knee-jerk reactions to uncomfortable subjects or feeling that they cannot comment because the characters are too far out the realm of their experience.) Any program suggestions and any information about minority experiences in MFA programs (anecdotal or personal) would be appreciated!
Thanks for the question, Lucky. I think a lot of programs pay lip service to the diversity issue, but I'm unsure of how many actually do something about it. One program that puts their money where their mouth is: Indiana University. They have at least three fellowships specifically for minority writers. Consequently, they have diverse workshops in writing style and background. Check out more at their Fellowship Site.
Both Lucky and I would really appreciate other opinions on programs that make diversity a priority. Thanks in advance.