Primer on Low-Residency MFA Programs

Happy to announce the arrival of the latest, updated version of our Primer on Low-Residency MFA Programs. This excellent e-book includes:

1) a set of questions to ask yourself in assessing whether a low-residency program may be the right option for you in the first place;

2) a list of what I call “consideration categories”–issues that I recommend each prospective MFA candidate evaluate for him or herself when analyzing individual low-residency programs;

3) the names, websites, and other contact information for more than two dozen degree-granting programs administered through a low-residency model;

4) a directory of additional resources (in print and online) to consult.

Check it out for yourself right here.

Travel and Study Grant Program

If you’re an emerging creative artist (with “emerging creative artists” defined as “writers of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and spoken word; film and video artists; and choreographers”), and you are a resident of New York City or Minnesota, you may want to check out the Jerome Foundation’s Travel and Study Grant Program. Funds “support periods of travel for the purpose of study, exploration, and growth” outside of New York City or Minnesota. The grant awards may not be used, however, “for touring, performances, appearances, exhibition expenses such as shipping, production of new work, and teaching.”

Grants up to $1,500 will be awarded for shorter-term travel (three to six days). Award amounts of up to $5,000 will be awarded for trips lasting one week or longer.

There’s no application fee. Applications must be postmarked on or before January 13, 2006. For more information and forms, click here.

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.


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.