Incarcerated in Indiana writes...
Hi. I am a long time writer who hopes to enter an MFA program next year, pending my anticipated parole from state prison this fall. Back in college, I took a number of creative writing classes but always found that my stories, due, presumably, to their genre (I'd call it speculative fiction but they like to call it horror or sci-fi or fantasy or weird) received a cool reception. It hurt that their technical and artistic merits were not appreciated (i.e. assumed to be non-existent) and I became disillusioned with academia and writing. I'm not really sure why but I want to give it another shot when I re-enter society. I've written a number of pieces behind bars and the other inmates all love them. Even the correction officers say the're good. My question is whether or not you think an admissions committee would seriously consider my kind of work. I'm talking monsters, aliens, ghosts, historical fiction, and the end-of-the-world. Also, I expect to be a little hard-up for recommendations. Do you think it would hurt me if I asked the Warden for a letter (I've been a model prisoner and have helped teach illiterate inmates to read). Thanks for your assistance,
IiI, it's been my experience that the monster/alien/ghost stories don't tend to go over very well with the MFA committees. MFAers generally consider themselves writers of literary fiction, not mainstream fiction.
Can anyone on our board think of a program that might be open to more mainstream writing samples?
As for the letter from the Warden, I'll say what I always say about letter-writers: Go with who you've got. In fact, if you're going to talk about your prison experience in your personal statement, then a positive letter from the Warden seems like a must.
In any case, best of luck with your release and your decisions. Rock on.