Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"How Good Is the Writing of Accepted MFAers...?"

That's a question that I hear often. Probably right after "Will I get accepted?" comes "Is my writing good enough to get me in the program? Is it good enough for me to be in the program?" and so on. So it occurred to me that current MFA candidates might want to link to webpages where MFA work is displayed. I'm not saying this is a perfect way to "gauge" one's writing (far from it), but it'll certainly give applicants some idea (or at least, it'll allow them to satisfy the insane curiosity all of us feel before applying :)).

However, I can't emphasize enough that these references shouldn't be used to respond to the above questions in a conclusive way. Why? At the very least because of these two reasons: for one thing, your work may have nothing to do with the work posted online by current MFA candidates, and yet the admissions committee may very well like your writing; then you're in and you have nothing to worry about; for another, I suspect (though this is sheer speculation) that those of us who post our stuff online don't turn in our very best work -- we "save" that to send to lit mags.

Still, with these qualifications in mind, it might be interesting to see what kind of work online MFA journals or MFA-related sites are posting out there. I'll get started by linking to Crate, the online MFA journal at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. (This is my second year here at UMass). Also, here's a blog where Rachel Glaser, one of my fellow UMass MFAers and an excellent writer, posts her work.

Let me warmly encourage other MFA candidates to post links to their program's work in the comments section!

18 comments:

unsaid said...

Niiiiice! Great idea. Thanks!

Mike Valente said...

Gustavo -

That's a great idea. I had a chance to read the summer issue of Tin House (#36) and one of the new voices of fiction is Marissa Perry, a recent grad from Michigan's MFA program. Also, the new voice of poetry in that issue is Bridget Talone, a first-year student in Iowa's workshop. The poem, "Expecting Honey", was printed before she entered Iowa's program, and it's available online.

I'm not suggesting that your work has to be of this caliber or style, but I think that it provides a sample of what current MFAers are doing.

If I think of other journals, I'll post them.

Mike

Mike Valente said...

and those samples are extremely strong pieces of writing, and should not be equated to what you need to produce for a writing sample in order to get into an mfa program.

Danny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Valente said...

Danny,

You're not going to like everything that's published. Sometimes, that's why certain things are published - they have an edge to them. There are a few pieces in the Pushcart Prize 2007 that I don't enjoy at all, particularly the pieces that have animals getting their heads blown off or in sexual positions. I also don't like the one about the old-men poets attending a writer's conference *yawn*. That's me.

I looked at Rachel Glaser's blog, and I like the poetry on it. I took a Poetry and Poetics class where we read tens of thousands of lines of metered verses (Pope, Dryden), so I'll like any poetry where I can understand the lines.

Mike

mfa seeker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zola said...

i liked rachel glaser's poetry (i didn't read her prose pieces). After reading her work I felt like she was someone I would love to be in a workshop with.

I guess people have different aesthetics and people have different kinds of subject matter they can or want to connect to.

I got a free one year subscription to Poetry magazine--that popular and prestigious lit mag that publishes a lot of big name poets--and i pretty much hated everything that was published in it. but i'm sure there are a lot of people who think it is a masterpiece of a journal. however, i do have my own opinions about contemporary poetry and its many faults.

Gustavo Llarull said...

I'm in agreement with Mike's and Zola's replies to Danny. Let me just add that the idea of this thread is for it to become a resource for people interested in finding online samples of current MFAers or MFA-related work. That's why Mike's reference to Tin House and the work of an Iowa first-year MFAer is very valuable. That's the idea. Cluttering this thread with judgments on the quality of that work -- especially when those judgments lack nuance -- is not helpful to anyone. I'd kindly ask folks to limit themselves to adding links to current MFA-related work. Thanks.

Kim said...

Hi guys,

I'm not applying to Cal Arts myself, but I came across this when I was looking for online samples:

http://www.sprawl.calarts.edu/authors/index.php?id=19

There's a bunch of current students' work posted.

unsaid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
unsaid said...

Here's a link to a video of Cornell MFA students reading their poetry:

http://www.cornell.edu/video/details.cfm?vidID=218&display=player

Mike Valente said...

Seth Abramson's work on the Conjunctions website:

http://www.conjunctions.com/webconj.htm

Good stuff, Seth!!

Morgan said...

My favorite Seth poem:

http://linebreak.org/19/cash-at-folsom/

And you can hear it read too!

Eva said...

here's the Hunter College student site: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/creativewriting/student.shtml

gaohui said...

Davidson garment is a quintessential Harley abercrombie Outlet davidson item, especially if you feature ones Harley decked abercrombie and fitch over. Featuring the whole distinctive line of leather abercrombie sale jackets, t-shirts, buckles, hats, belts, boots abercrombie & fitch and helmets, feeling of guilt reason this is abercrombie not to accessorize to max.A decent buy Harley enthusiast will abercrombie uk go in closet and grab a Harley t-shirt, leather jacket and boots. But, abercrombie london does your closet contain present accessory considering all abercrombie and Fitch Polo of? The Harley helmet. With out them your road abercrombie Polos trip could end in disaster.

jiang said...

The first issuie that thomas sabo jewellery online consumers are facing thomas jewellery in India is the narorw range and limited choice of merchandize. Even pandora bracelets the leading sites like ebay.in, indiaplaza.in, indiatimes pandora jewellery or rediff have very liimited range of pandora australia iteems and therefore pandora bracelets are hardly attrractive. I personally searched pandora bracelet many a ties for books and music pandora charms titles amoong other things in the Inddian sites but seldom fouund any thomas sabo australia great product and never thomas sabo excciting prices. In spite of limited rnage still some conssumers want to buy online sabo jewellery just for the sake of convenience but then their expertience is also not good.

jiangjiu said...

Silver Engraving Process & Beauty of Engraved Silverware thomas sabo bracelet What is “Silver Engraving”? thomas sabo bracelets Silver Engraving is the process of incising special messages or names discount thomas sabo bracelet of loved ones on silver products/items like silver candlesticks, cheap thomas sabo bracelet silver christening gifts, thomas sabo bracelet clearance silver anniversary gifts and silver photo frames. thomas sabo Engraving makes the item look outstanding discount thomas sabo and help to create a special gift or feeling. thomas sabo sale ukEngraved Silver products- where elegance meets beauty.Engraving thomas sabo jewellery something memorable on silverware is one of the most thomas sabo silver elegant of keeping a memory alive.

Debbie said...

I have been accepted to the MFA in Writing at Cal Arts University of San Francisco and Otis. I wanted more info. on the schools' programs and which school would get me the right contacts I need after school to pursue a career. Any advice?