Becka McKay, director of the MFA in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University as well as poet and translator, was featured in the podcast series In Conversation: An Arts and Letters Podcast. This podcast features Michael Horswell, dean of FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, talking with various faculty members “about research and creative activity that spans the arts, humanities, and social sciences.” New episodes are released on the second Tuesday of the month.
The podcast episode was recorded from a video call back in December 2020. The first question asked was about Becka’s journey of poetry and translation. Her answer: “I have been writing poetry since I could write.” She talked about running away from poetry for awhile and how she majored in history in college and even had thoughts of going to veterinary school. With all of this she had the idea, though, that she wanted to be an historian who writes poetry.
George Mason University’s creative writing program has recently announced the creation of Watershed Lit: Center for Literary Engagement and Publishing Practice. This new center “represents a commitment to the dynamic ways literature connects people” as well as to students’ professional development. The name emerged from the importance of place and a connection to geography.
Gregg Wilhelm, director of Mason Creative Writing, says “if students graduate from the program without being more thoroughly prepared for the job market, we think that’s a disservice. The many ways students can get involved with Watershed Lit make for unique experiential learning, resume building opportunities.” With the new center, students will be able to explore traditional publishing, digital publishing, literary arts festival management, the evolving roles of literary journals, and so much more.
Watershed Lit’s leadership team consists of representatives of the English Department and the partner enterprises: Fall for the Book, Stillhouse Press, Cheuse Center for International Writers, Poetry Daily, Northern Virginia Writing Project, phoebe, and So to Speak.
Early Placement Application Deadline: February 1 for May entry. Spalding’s nationally distinguished low-residency MFA is the most affordable of the top-tier programs. In the MFA and its sister programs, study one-on-one with outstanding faculty, gain editorial experience on Good River Review, and develop a lifelong writing community. Fiction; poetry; creative nonfiction; writing for children and young adults; writing for TV, screen, and stage; and professional writing. Scholarships and assistantships available.
The MFA in Creative Writing at Long Island University is an innovative program centering on world literature, multi-genre education, and publishing. They prepare their students to be “professional writers in the world and visionary literary citizens.”
The LIU Brooklyn MFA is a two-year residency program that also helps prepare its students for careers in creative writing, academia, translation, and publishing. Students have the option of studying poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and translation to receive a robust multi-genre education.
Students are able to learn about commercial, independent, and academic publishing during the course of their study while studying directly with professionals at the heart of the publishing industry. Current faculty include Zaina Arafat, Rita Banerjee, and Robin Hemley.
The MA in Creative Writing at Eastern Michigan University is distinguished as one of the only interdisciplinary programs for creative writing in the country. They accept applications year-round with January 10 being the priority deadline for the fall term.
“Locating the writer’s work along the frontiers of social imaginaries and civic possibilities, our program nourishes opportunities to develop a conceptually rigorous and imaginatively engaged writing.” The program also emphasizes the importance of aesthetic risk and social application while also offering writers opportunities to explore multiple arts and mixed genres.
Core faculty for the program are Rob Halpern, Carla Harryman, Christine Hume, and Matt Kirkpatrick. Recent visiting writers include Latasha N. Nevada Diggs, Nathaniel Mackey, Ted Pearson, Joanna Rocco, Daniel Borzutzky, Wayne Kostenbaum, Kevin Killian, Sarah Schulman.
They also have a literary magazine, BathHouse Journal, and a reading series, BathHouse Reading Series.
Fairfield’s two-year, low-residency MFA program helps writers develop their literary voice and make connections that lead to publication. Students receive mentorship from an award-winning faculty of authors and gather for nine-day residencies on Enders Island. Degrees are offered in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or dramatic writing. Concentrations are available in publishing, spiritual writing, social justice, and literary health and healing.
Application Deadline: January 1.
One of the first creative writing programs in the country, UNC Greensboro’s MFA is a two-year residency program offering fully funded assistantships with stipends and health insurance. Students work closely with faculty in one-on-one tutorials; take courses in poetry, fiction, publishing, and creative nonfiction; and pursue opportunities in college teaching or editorial work for The Greensboro Review. More at our website.
When I applied to MFA programs, it was with the intention of finding a writing community. During my time at The Ohio State University, I was lucky to foster strong relationships with my classmates through our shared experience and dedication to the written word. To this day, I continue to edit and be generously edited by a group of talented writers, most of whom I met in my very first class, a nonfiction workshop with the writer Lee Martin.
But what is a writing community when the people sharing their art are only able to do so virtually? And when writers find themselves in the middle of so many American catastrophes, where do we find the urge to create at all? I asked Lee Martin, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English at Ohio State, for insight on his teaching and writing life during a pandemic.
How have your workshops/classes adapted to being online?
Lee: We seem to be adapting well. I love my students, and the level of engagement seems to be high. It’s not quite the same, of course, as sitting around a table, but we’re doing fine. I’ve had some students comment on how our Zoom meetings give them a chance to feel a part of our writing community, so that’s a good thing. I just wish we could do the things we used to do—go out for $4 burger night at Brazen Head Pub, have spaghetti dinners at my and Cathy’s house, have bowling parties, etc. Ah well, I hope we’ll be able to do those things and more very soon.
How has your writing changed, if at all?
Lee: I find myself writing steadily as a way of escaping the reality of what’s going on in the world around me. It’s a comfort to me to escape into the worlds of my own making in novels and stories set before the pandemic. I’m only now working on something more current that, of course, will eventually have to face the pandemic head-on.
What are your words of wisdom as to finding the space in this chaos to create art?
Lee: I’ve been thinking a lot about how to stay in the present moment of what delights me rather than thinking about all that depresses me or makes me fear for the future. Silence is a good thing. If we can find those places of silence we can fill them with the efforts of our own choosing rather than the worries and the fears that the current climate places upon us. Today, for instance, Cathy and I went out to Inniswood Metro Gardens and disappeared into the natural world and immediately felt our breath coming more easily. Such places and moments are all around us. All we have to do is look for them.
Good River Review resides at Spalding in Louisville, Kentucky, which sits on the Ohio River, providing inspiration for the name: Ohio is a Seneca word for good river. Issues will appear twice a year. Between issues, the website will regularly publish interviews; book reviews; reviews of new plays, television, and films; craft essays; and literary news.
“We intend to publish the best writing in all the genres we teach in our graduate writing programs,” Kathleen Driskell (chair of the School of Writing who will serve as editor-in-chief) said. “We love writing that blurs boundaries, so contributors will find their work published as prose, lyrics, or drama.” The journal will also publish writing for children and young adults, as well as original web, TV, and short film productions.
The journal’s submission period will be ongoing. Good River Review allows for simultaneous submissions and does not charge reading or submission fees. For more information, email email@example.com.
Application Deadline: January 1. One of the first creative writing programs in the country, UNC Greensboro’s MFA is a two-year residency program offering fully funded assistantships with stipends and health insurance. Students work closely with faculty in one-on-one tutorials, take courses in poetry, fiction, publishing, and creative nonfiction, and pursue opportunities in college teaching or editorial work for The Greensboro Review. More at mfagreensboro.org.