Archive for the ‘MFA Programs’ Category

See Vincent Francone‘s lovely little essay on the joys of holding an MFA here.

Takeaway: “I may spend life toiling in drudgery, but I’ll always have poetry to sustain – if I may borrow a line from Nazim Hikmet – the tiny jewel in the center of my chest.”



The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, written by instructors from the New York Writer’s Workshop, is currently available for FREE in Kindle format at Check the link.

The book is 280 pages long and contains chapters on writing fiction, poetry, plays, memoir and magazine articles. I haven’t read the book and so can’t personally recommend it, but the reviews at amazon seem pretty good and the book is, after all, free.

If you haven’t tried Kindle books yet, note that you don’t have to have a Kindle device to read them–you can read Kindle books on your laptop, your IPad, whatever.

Anis Shivani‘s “new rules for writers” is one big Fuck You to careerism, conformity, and any kind of literary  “success.” An excerpt:

The “system”–in all its manifestations–is in utter disrepair, decadence rather. The only way to conquer it is to humiliate it. This goes against everything you’ve heard, all the advice to play nice. But that gets you nowhere… Confound them. Bewilder them. Disrespect them. Mock them. “They” meaning all the authority figures in publishing…

Read more at:

Anis Shivani: New Rules For Writers: Ignore Publicity, Shun Crowds, Refuse Recognition And More.

(In other words, become this guy:

A convict, Kenneth Hartman, weighs in on the best books about prison life.

Bruce Cordingly writes about the odd business of sustaining a literary reputation.

And Mike Agresta on the value of the MFA.

Excellent article by Chad Harbach on the two literary cultures in the United States: MFA programs and Brooklyn/NYC. What motivates these two cultures? What are their canons? Recommended.

And here’s Paul Collins on what the Victorians, including Henry James, thought about training writers.

And Christian Wiman, editor of that venerable magazine, Poetry, on what’s he reading now.

An interesting piece on MFAs. (See The Rumpus, Annelise Chen. )

Having been both pro- and anti-MFA in the same lifetime, even while enduring/barbaricyawping an MFA at a Famous MFA Place, the Bat Terrier found that often Chen’s prose seemed like a fingernail plucking at Ye Olde Crusty Wounde. Why does an MFA in Creative Writing, unlike, say, a Master’s degree in, who knows, Communications or Accounting, hurt so damned much?

Takeaways: The MFA may turn you into a creaky machine-human, perhaps like the Tin Man. Do not go into debt to be made into a Tin Man.