Summer MFA Study at Sewanee

It’s not quite the conventional “low-residency” program, but it isn’t a typical “residential” program either. The Sewanee School of Letters, which will enroll its first class in the summer of 2006, will offer both the M.A. degree in English and American Literature and the M.F.A. in Creative Writing. According to an e-mail from the School’s Coordinator, Margaret D. Binnicker, “Both programs are designed for completion in 4 or 5 summers. Classes will be held in June and July each summer on the campus of the University of the South (usually known as Sewanee), atop the Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Tennessee.” There’s no website yet, but you can find out more by writing to Ms. Binnicker at The University of the South, 735 University Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383.

ADDED JANUARY 16, 2006:

The website is now available. Check it out here.

Salman Rushdie on the Novel and Today’s World

At the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 7, Salman Rushdie read from his latest novel, Shalimar the Crown, and spoke about storytelling in today’s world.

According to the Harvard Gazette, Rushdie said that the novelistic conventions we associate with Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Gustave Flaubert don’t suit our own times very well.

“The novel does not want to live in a world like this. The novel wants to be about Madame Bovary living in a small town and having an affair because she’s bored. It’s much harder to write a novel about our world, but it’s important to try.”

(To which I say, “Amen.”)

At the same time, Rushdie also cautioned against allowing larger world forces/events to overtake the novel.

“One has to remember, at the heart of the novel is the human figure. In this book, Shalimar gradually becomes a man of violence, but he’s from a community where everyone undergoes the same privations. Why does he become a man of violence when others don’t? This is where individual character becomes very important.”

Rushdie further noted: “The reason Tolstoy wrote ‘War and Peace’ was not to describe the battle of Borodino. It was to write about the lives of his characters. The novelist has to make sure that human beings stay at the center.”

Pretty intriguing stuff, especially for someone (like me) often drawn to what some have disparaged in writing workshops as “current events” in my fiction. To read the full Gazette article, click here.

On the Subject of Funding for Low-Residency MFA Programs

Another topic that comes up quite a bit concerns funding possibilities (and general lack thereof) for students who want to attend low-residency MFA programs. In this post, which I’ll add to the blog links for future reference, I want to begin listing a few helpful notes and resources for potential (and maybe even current) low-res students trying to negotiate the MFA’s financial costs.

To begin, here’s an observation: at least two relatively new low-res programs charge significantly reduced tuition for in-state residents. One of these programs also offers reductions for “regional” residents. Check out the University of Nebraska’s program and Murray State University’s program (the program is based in Kentucky but also charges less for writers from Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, and Indiana):

Also, according to its website, the “New England College MFA Program in Poetry is deeply committed to offering scholarships for MFA poetry students who qualify based on their financial need. These scholarships are awarded annually on the basis of either academic achievement or artistic accomplishment with consideration for financial need. All students applying for financial aid are automatically reviewed for scholarship eligibility upon acceptance into the MFA program. In order to be considered for a scholarship, prospective students must file their FAFSA. These scholarships are awarded to incoming accepted students and are annually renewable based on satisfactory progress and faculty recommendations. (NEC information updated February 13, 2013)

Check back to see what’s been added here. And click here for some more information on applying to (and choosing) MFA programs.

 

UPDATED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2013:

A few more findings:

1) According to the Wilkes University Creative Writing Financial Aid page, two graduate assistantships are awarded for each class. The Graduate Assistants “will receive a small stipend and full tuition remission for a maximum of 18 months.” There’s also a fellowship, the Norris Church Mailer Fellowship, which “is awarded annually to a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program who has artistic promise.”

2) According to the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers website, “all financial aid is based on need. Students interested in financial aid must complete a FAFSA by March 1 or September 1. We offer a range of MFA grants for qualifying students, which can cover over 50% of the costs of tuition, as well as smaller supplemental grants (such as the Renate Wood and Larry Levis Scholarships). In any given year, between 1/3 to ½ of our students receive direct tuition reduction through these grants. The FAFSA also enables many of our students to finance remaining education costs through low-interest, deferred-payment, federally-supported loans. In addition, minority students may apply, on admission, for a Holden Minority Scholarship which covers full tuition and residency costs for four semesters of study. Beginning in March 2011, entering female students who qualify for aid will be considered for the Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship covers tuition and fees for the first two semesters of the program and includes a $4000 stipend. All of this support is renewable for four semesters, assuming eligibility continues. Once matriculated, students may qualify for additional aid, such as the Lisel Mueller Scholarship for students with small children, and the Carol Houck Smith Scholarship for students entering a final semester. And our students continue successfully to locate substantial support from outside sources, such as the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Javitz Scholarship.

3) From Spalding University‘s program: an updated list of scholarships and scholarship resources for students.

 

ADDED ON DECEMBER 5, 2005; UPDATED FEBRUARY 13, 2013:

From the Emrys Foundation:

The Keller Cushing Freeman Fellowship, to be awarded by the Emrys Foundation, is designed to encourage North and South Carolina residents to pursue post-graduate study in the arts. This fellowship reflects the goals of the Emrys Foundation, whose mission is to nurture emerging and established writers. Special consideration is given to projects that collaborate across several art forms.”

The Alice Conger Patterson Scholarship is designed to encourage South Carolina individuals to pursue continuing education or to develop a creative endeavor in order to enhance a career in the arts or to change career direction. Preference is given to endeavors involving the literary arts. The Alice Conger Patterson Scholarship reflects the goals of the Emrys Foundation, whose mission is to nurture creativity in emerging and established writers, to expand the impact of the literary arts and collaborate across a broad variety of art forms to give voice to the written word.”

NB: Scholarships and fellowships are not ordinarily awarded in the same year.

 

ADDED SEPTEMBER 3, 2006;UPDATED FEBRUARY 13, 2013:

1) Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Scholarship Opportunities: “A small number of partial scholarships are available each year. We encourage all qualifying applicants to apply.”

2) From Pacific University: “Pacific offers two Pearl Scholarships per year in the amount of $7500 each to students entering the MFA program. In addition, a limited number of partial, merit-based scholarships are also available to students entering the program. Scholarships are based on the quality of the creative manuscript and supporting application materials and are awarded at the time of acceptance. No additional application is required.” In addition: “Graduates studying in Pacific’s MFA in Writing program may apply to teach undergraduates on Pacific University’s campus in Forest Grove, Oregon. Teaching associates receive a financial award of approximately $3000 to instruct a semester-long college composition or introductory creative writing course. All students who have been in the MFA in writing program for more than two semesters are invited to apply for these positions. Selections are made based upon the quality of the application and the writing and teaching background of the applicant.”

 

ADDED NOVEMBER 30, 2006:

My sincere thanks go to the writer currently enrolled in a low-residency program who wrote to me with the following advice:

“I got a scholarship from my alma mater…that helped with my first year….Another student…has a similar (much larger) scholarship from…So students should always check the possibilities at their undergraduate alumni associations.”

This writer also notes that s/he received an interest-free loan from the Bill Raskob Foundation.”Much better deal than a Stafford!”

I welcome any other useful tips/suggestions on this topic!

 

ADDED ON AUGUST 30, 2007

Just saw this on the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA in Creative Writing Web site:

In the first phase of building its scholarship and student loan program, the Whidbey Writers Workshop is pleased to announce a full-tuition merit scholarship with the establishment of the Elizabeth George Foundation scholarship.

“Through her generosity and belief in our program Elizabeth George has given a great boost to the MFA scholarship and financial aid drive,” said Nancy Ruff, board chair of the Whidbey Writers Workshop. The organization is seeking additional support to aid students.

In addition to the Elizabeth George Foundation full scholarship of $12,000 for an incoming student that is renewable for a second year, the WWW is also building funding for half-tuition and quarter-tuition scholarships and for financial aid assistance.

“The foundation is truly pleased to be able to support WIWA’s establishment of an MFA program through this scholarship,” said Ms. George, who is the award-winning author of more than 20 books, including the Inspector Lynley mystery series, a book on writing and whose work has been developed for television including PBS’s Mystery.

Beginning with the fall semester of 2007, the Whidbey Writers Workshop will also offer a limited number of low-interest student loans through Coastal Bank of Freeland, Washington, which will partner to provide management of the loan fund.

 

ADDED ON DECEMBER 1, 2007

Over on the Poets & Writers Speakeasy a poster suggested that I mention the American Association of University Women (AAUW) “Career Development Grants” program. These “support women who hold a bachelor’s degree and are preparing to advance their careers, change careers, or re-enter the work force. Special consideration is given to AAUW members, women of color, and women pursuing their first advanced degree or credentials in nontraditional fields.” Funds do provide support for master’s degree work, and are available for distance learning. Awards range from $2,000-$12,000. And the deadline is coming up soon (December 15). Note that there is an application fee here ($35 for those who are not AAUW members). You’ll find more information at the AAUW Web site.

 

UPDATED ON FEBRUARY 23, 2008

Information on the S. Portia Steele Memorial Scholarships.

According to the site, S. Portia Steele “had a keen interest in Creative Writing and always favored that endeavor.” In her memory, one scholarship each year will be awarded “to a woman seeking a graduate or under-graduate degree at an accredited college or university.” Exact amount of award may vary by year, but will not be less than $500. Based on merit and need.

The “ideal applicant” meets the following requirements:

1) Achieve/maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA;

2) Demonstrate financial need;

3) Seeking a baccalaureate or master’s degree;

4) “The applicant must be a woman currently enrolled in good standing at an accredited College or University.”

Find out more here. (UPDATE, FEBRUARY 13, 2013: The old site does not seem to be working. Here is all that I can find on this opportunity at the moment.)

 

ADDED ON MARCH 9, 2008

“Five Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships in the amount of $15,000 will be awarded to young poets through a national competition sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry. Established in 1989 by the Indianapolis philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the fellowships are intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry. Applicants must be U.S. citizens between the age of twenty-one and thirty-one as of March 31, 2008.” Applications must be postmarked during March 2008.

Find out more here. (UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 13, 2013: I have updated the link, but I haven’t updated the details/dates for this annual opportunity.)

 

ADDED ON JULY 2, 2008; UPDATED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2013

From Drew University’s program: “Financial aid comes in two forms, academic merit scholarships, and need-based aid. Applicants for scholarships and aid must fill out the Drew Supplemental Financial Aid Form and return it to the Office of Financial Assistance. Academic Merit Scholarships are competitive and range from 10% to 50% of tuition. The application for admission serves as an application for merit scholarships. Need-based aid takes the form of loans and work-study. In order to be considered for need-based aid, an applicant must fill out the federal FAFSA form and return it to the processor.”

 

ADDED ON JUNE 10, 2010; UPDATED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2013

The Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College offers fellowships and scholarships.

 

ADDED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2013

“The Pan-European MFA in Creative Writing annually offers two scholarships to students who begin study during a summer residency. Scholarships provide $1,500.00 USD per year toward tuition for up to two years of study during the distance mentorships ($750 USD toward tuition for each fall and spring distance-mentorship semester over two years, up to a maximum of $3,000 USD per student).

War Poetry

No, I’m not talking about the British World War One poets–this time. That’s a subject I’ve been known to focus on.

Today, however, I suggest you check out Dana Goodyear’s Talk of the Town piece in the current New Yorker. Goodyear profiles Brian Turner, 38, a former Army sergeant whose book of poems, Here, Bullet, was recently released by Alice James Books. The book, about a year Turner spent deployed in Iraq, won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award. It’s Turner’s debut collection.

Opportunities for aspiring doctor-poets

This may be a real niche population–medical students who are also poets–but for this group there are two no-cost contests coming up with December 31 deadlines.

First, the William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition, sponsored by the Human Values in Medicine Program of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM), is open to students attending schools of medicine or osteopathy in the United States and Canada. The contest’s final judge is John Stone, M.D., poet and essayist from Emory University School of Medicine. The top three poems will be considered for publication in the Journal of Medical Humanities and will be awarded $300, $200, and $100, respectively. The three winners will also be invited to read their poems at NEOUCOM in April (expenses paid). For more information about this contest (including submission instructions), visit the NEOUCOM website.

And second, “medical undergraduates currently enrolled in accredited U.S. medical schools” may submit poetry for the Baylor College of Medicine’s annual Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Award. This competition awards the top winner a cash prize of $1,000; the second- and third-prize winner receive $500 and $300, respectively. Note that “All winning poems become the property of the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Award program.” The first-prize poem will also be submitted for possible publication in “a major medical periodical.” For more information, click here.