- I didn’t even glow/know there was such a dang as “Geography Thursday.” WTS? (What the Suck?) OK, I’m game.
- Is it true you have to be removed from a location to write about it? Because that smells like dung beetle dung or someone reading A Moveable Feast while sitting in a coffee shop looking at eyes or maybe a conference answer to a hang-tongue/clam-eye question.
- Ever wrote in front of a mirror or a large window? Do tell.
- What is Southern lit? I don’t know. You get knocked down. Black holes burnt into a map. There is moss and gonorrhea. You scramble back up but don’t know your mind. What you were was it worth reaching fer? You can’t tell your Bad Faith actions from your authentic mind. It’s all a low fog, over soybean fields and the jawbone of a deer. You get knocked down. Why scramble up for something you might hate? Why return to your own spent virus/kudzu vine? Oak limbs. Several doors, later plated in gold and writing. A speech. Your home is a hole. There are other definitions aloose I spose. I couldn’t answer. Add cathead biscuits.
- Do you like to read first at a group reading or last or not at all or more like: who cucking fares, dude?
- Ain’t many links in this post, but fuck it.
- A friend of mine in MFA/grad school said she enrolled for one reason: “To get laid.” (Her words) Is grad school a great location for getting laid? I mean more than working at Chili’s or enrolling yourself in law or culinary school? Why/why not?
This weekend I spent some time thinking about how much people love talking about MFAs, what they’re good for, who should get one, why they’re terrible, how much they cost, why they’re wonderful and on and on and on. I never imagined that a college degree could generate so much vigorous discussion. I love it.
At The Rumpus, Anelise Chen wrote an essay about the MFA Ponzi Scheme. It’s a great, witty essay that makes good, if not commonsensical points. The comments are pretty intense with all kinds of opinions being shared about the MFA with a great deal of cost/benefit analysis. I love when writers get all math-y. I don’t have much of an opinion on MFAs. I do not have one. I do believe one should never pay for graduate school but that a graduate education is awesome. There are worse things someone could spend their money on, like drugs, though for some, that might be something better to spend their money on. I don’t judge.
At The School the creative writing undergrads will be allowed to write only about their hobby. Homework assignments will go like this: “Go home, and do your hobby.” Readings will include rule-books (if your hobby was boccie, etc) or instruction manuals (if your hobby was creating birdhouses out of Q Tips, etc). If you have no hobby, you are immediately expelled from The School.
Grad students in creative writing at The School will be allowed to write only about their job. Homework assignments will go like this: “Go home, and do your job.” Readings will include employment manuals (if your job was lifeguard at city pool, etc), local maps (if your job was delivering various types of paper, etc), or instructional material (if your job was to monitor the unloading of industrial chemicals from train tankers, etc). If you have no job, you are immediately expelled from The School.
Workshop will take place in the pond. The students will sink or swim, in silence.
Blake had a post a while back about the problems that slush presents for every lit mag. When magazines start out, their slushes are pretty small, the editors are really excited about reading, and for the most part, they go into reading each piece with the hope of finding a piece to publish. As lit mags get older, their slushes get larger, the editors get a bit more burnt out, and because the amount of space the mags have is the same, they can’t accept as high a percentage of subs, and tend to start reading each sub with an eye toward finding a reason to reject. It’s kind of horrible and numbing. How do mags avoid this?
December 31st, 2009 / 10:00 am
I used to blog here about getting an mfa in creative nonfiction, but since I finished classes there’s nothing much to report other than I am working on my thesis. Sasha Fletcher, however, just began his mfa in poetry and he’s writing about it over at his blog. He’s got the talented and lovely Sarah Manguso for workshop, Timothy Donnelly for a poetry craft seminar, Marjorie Welish for 20th century experimental poetry, and a lecture from the adorable Richard Howard titled “The Beginning of the End.”
Expect me to crash the guest lectures while I’m still in the city. Hopefully they’ll be as memorable as the Joyce Carol Oates one last semester.
In the NYT today, Mark C. Taylor (no relation), the chair of the religion department at Columbia, argues that “GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning.” He outlines a six-point plan for restructuring how graduate (and, later, undergraduate) educational institutions are structured and how they operate. He makes a number of good points–and a few I’m ambivalent about–but here’s one that especially resonated with me:
The dirty secret of higher education is that without underpaid graduate students to help in laboratories and with teaching, universities couldn’t conduct research or even instruct their growing undergraduate populations. […] In other words, young people enroll in graduate programs, work hard for subsistence pay and assume huge debt burdens, all because of the illusory promise of faculty appointments. But their economical presence, coupled with the intransigence of tenure, ensures that there will always be too many candidates for too few openings.
He’s talking about the more traditional kind of academic, but I think the point is a salient one for MFAs and other creative degrees as well. The idea that all, or even most, of the people who specialize in a creative discipline will then be in a position to make any sort of living at the practice of that discipline is at best a willful delusion, and at worst a pernicious lie.