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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

life after an mfa

Tara Mae Mulroy:

"You have worked at your degree for 2 or 3 years, maintained a high level of productivity and stress, been around other writers, talked constantly about writing, taught writing, hammered out a thesis, and now you’re…done."

I never really went through an MFA postpartum.  How do I say this?  I didn't enjoy my time at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.  I never long to relive those years.  If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self: Don't go! But I did go. It wasn't all bad. Did I really just type that?  Yes, I did.  Here are some positives about my time in Iowa.

I adored (still do) most of my classmates.  Sabrina.  Cathy.  Matthew.  Spencer.  Joe.  Robin. Keith. Shane.  Sara.  Margaret.  Naren.

I did learn some important things about writing poetry. That's something to be thankful for.

I was given two years to read and write.

There were a few handsome men. That's all I'm saying. 

I had a lot of good times at the Foxhead, which was the bar the poets claimed.  I drank a lot of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I don't think I ever played pool, though.  What a crime. 

Iowa City is an amazing college town.  I loved living there.  The people were so kind and welcoming.  I felt safe as a brown man, as a gay man. 

I studied with two of my favorite contemporary poets: Mark Levine and James Galvin. 

My first winter! The first day it snowed I sat on my porch and watched as the snow slowly covered everything. It was a magical moment. 

Prairie Lights Books.


Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...

Thanks for sharing some tidbits about your time in Iowa. I'm curious, do you recommend MFA programs in general? I ask because I've been researching them but am still teetering on the to MFA or not MFA debate.

Alex said...

So why would you tell your younger self not to go? What would you tell a young writer trying to decide whether or not to pursue an MFA?

Eduardo C. Corral said...

Andrea and Alex,

I do recommend MFA programs. You will enter a community of writers who understand your passions and your fears and, if you do your homework, you will study with teachers who will become mentors.

But you must do research. Visit online MFA application blogs. Ask questions. Contact students currently enrolled in the programs you're interested in.

What I'm saying isn't new. I'm sure you've heard it from others. If you have specific questions, feel free to email me.

Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...

I'm doing my research now that I've narrowed the programs down. Thanks for your feedback. You may be receiving an email from me soon!

Enjoy your weekend!

Paul Pedroza said...

Yeah, pretty much ditto on the sentiment. My writing has really opened up in the two years since I graduated, believe it or not. The program was great for earning the money which gave me the time to write, and it's something I'm glad I did. Was an MFA program necessary for me? I'm going to be all wannabe chingon and say that it wasn't necessary for me to push through with writing. It helped in other ways such as getting to know my literary community and, most especially, becoming an instructor.