I have a question about the writing sample. I am in the process of putting together my application for admission to several MFA programs for the fall of 2007, and am finding very little help/feedback from admissions officers or literature available concerning their true preferences. Brown was, in their FAQ section, perhaps the most direct; but I am still, after reading this section and several telephone conversations later, left with the question: do I include one long, but complete sample of my poetry which is in one particular style and voice, or do I include several shorter selections, each with its own particular aesthetics and commensurate form/tone? The only responses which I have been given thus far is that [NYU] I should submit what I think represents me best work, which seems, to me, to be evading the too-difficult-to-ask question. Or,[Brown] that I should simply submit my best work. But my problem with this response is that, although I am settled on the fact that my most recent work is my best, and should for that reason be what I submit for my sample (one long series of 50 haiku [renga]), I feel as though in submitting this work as my writing sample I may accidentally communicate that this form is all that I have the background in writing, which seems to sell me short. I guess you get the dilemma by now. Any suggestions?
Thanks very much for considering my query--
No program is ever going to say what style they’re looking for. Why not? Because readers, including committee readers, don’t want to close their options. And also, because a program is made up of many different styles and interests. Yes, writers have opinions about Browns fiction program or Iowa’s poetry program, but you are always going to get the advice: Send your best and most representative work. That’s just the way that it is.
That said, if you can do more than haikus, it’s my humble and man-facting opinion that you should show that. Good luck.