Dispatches from an MFA

In June 2019, I completed my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Lesley University. Lesley’s creative writing graduate program uses the low-residency model. It works like this: at the beginning of each semester, students and faculty come together for an intensive residency, incorporating seminars, workshops, lectures, panels, and readings. During the residency, you work with your mentor to develop a course of study for the rest of the semester. Then you go home and begin work on your first packet. Each month, you are responsible for sending a packet that includes both critical and creative work, along with a cover letter reflecting on your progress. Below are links to the work I generated during my time at Lesley. I’m still putting them up, so follow the blog or my Twitter account to see new ones as they become available.

When I began researching MFA programs, I was hungry for information about what the experience would be like — and if I could handle it. Turns out I could. I took my time, dividing my coursework for the third semester over two separate semesters, and taking a semester off before my fourth and final one, but I was able to balance a full-time work schedule with approximately 30 hours per week of coursework. I’m posting this material in the hope that it will help others considering an MFA to see what the process was like — and maybe help them take the plunge. The program changed my life, very much for the better.

Cover Letters:

Semester One, First Packet

Semester One, Second Packet

Semester One, Third Packet

Semester One, Final Packet

Semester Two, First Packet

Semester Two, Second Packet

Semester Two, Third Packet

Craft Annotations:

Ross Gay’s Wild and Sensual Poems

Rachel Zucker’s Unclear Narrative

Adrian Matejka’s The Big Smoke: A Meta-Narrative

Szymborska, Imagery, and Abstraction

A Close Reading of “Elegy for my Father” by Annie Finch

Song and Compression in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry

The Martha Collins Race Trilogy

Poetic Line in the Work of William Carlos Williams

Denise Levertov’s Use of Argument and Rhetoric

Heather McHugh’s Poetic Music

Rilke’s Use of Imagery

Elizabeth Bishop’s Use of Rhyme

Voice and Point of View in Sylvia Plath’s Poetry

Nonlinear Time and Poetic Structure

More on Nonlinear Time

Interdisciplinary Studies:

Art of the Chapbook: Paper

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