Monday, August 20, 2007

"Where can I read current MFA students' work?"

amanda asks. (Unusual question--first time I've seen this brought up!)

Dear amanda:

The works of current MFA students are drafts of novels/memoirs/collections in progress, most of which probably aren't yet ready to be shared outside of class, so I don't know how you'd go about finding some to read... maybe some people put them on their personal blogs? Or, if you volunteer to evaluate manuscripts for a writing competition run by some non-profit literary organization (like I'm doing this summer) you may well get a lot of stuff from MFA students; whether your supervisor lets you read contestant bios to find out which ones are MFA students is another matter. Or, some program websites display the e-mails of their students (hopefully organized by genre) so maybe if you're feeling bold you can ask someone if they could give you a sample of their writing--presumably since you're interested in what's generally being produced in a particular program.

But my question is: why do you want to read the work of people currently in MFA programs? Do you intend to compare it to your own to see if you have a chance of getting in? If so, don't worry about it; write what you write and forget about the rest. Besides, the best way to learn how to write, I think, is to read good published literature, not manuscripts; and I suspect that many people currently in programs would tell you that they wish they were reading something else.


Luke said...

Best New American Voices is an annual anthology of stories culled from writing workshops. You'll probably only see stuff from the biggest programs, though.

Erika Dreifus said...

Some MFA programs (I'm thinking mainly of low-residency programs, which I know best) post "news" pages (or entire newsletters) about their students and alumni. Some of these include links to publications; others may simply mention publications and leave it up to the reader to locate the texts. Check the Web sites.

Erika Dreifus said...

Another thought, sparked by Luke's comment: The AWP Intro Journals Project recognizes and publishes student (undergraduate and graduate) writing. Find out more at

Amanda said...

thanks everyone.