Posts Tagged ‘writing sample’

2 things i’m wondering

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

1.      I met with a student to give advice on his MFA sample writing portfolio. Since I read these portfolios for my university and wrote one for my MFA, I felt ‘qualified,’ but with Tao Lin quotation marks. Some of the student’s poems had images and word-play. Tropes. Alliteration, at least one spondee. The first page was strong. I told him, “Good. You showed on the first page that you have read poetry and care some about words. The first page is important. Thoughts are being made.” I said, “You have images immediately. A lot of people sending in won’t have any images. They won’t get in. A lot of people like to write poetry, not poems. I mean they write about pride or love…” (trailing off. not quite sure what I meant here)

Content: The poems were about hangovers, beer, marijuana. I said, “These are sort of derivative ‘beat’ poems. That’s OK, write what you want once you’re in graduate school, but I think you should play the game a little. Get in grad school first.” I told him many readers would groan when they read poems about hangovers, beer, marijuana. “People are going to think you read some Bukowski. They’ll think you’re a type.” The phone rang 4 times and I ignored it. I said, “Do you have poems about any others things?” He did. Put some of those poems in the sample, I advised. I said again, “This isn’t a criticism of your work. Any subject is fine. Write what you want. I’m just trying to help you get into grad school.”

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