Tag Archives: MFA program

Old Poems, Old Articles, New Inspiration

I didn’t realize that I was sonnet-obsessed twelve years ago. Supporting evidence: in the first-semester packet from Warren Wilson. I did a LOT of work that semester–and not nearly as much as I’d hoped to. On the other hand, I also was working full-time as a writer for CNN. (Let’s see. Breaking news in Fall 1995?. . .)

The poems I found as part of this file were some I’d wondered about, but which I had apparently done quite a lot of substantive work on and then abandoned. At the time, I didn’t have the skills, but had plenty to say. Now, when I have the skills but feel I have so little to say, what a great Christmas gift to find my old work-in-progress. I can do a lot with this stuff. I might even actually finish my first book without exhausting whatever I come up with for my dissertation. Oh, joy! Oh, thank you, personal organizer who makes me clean out my office! Oh, thank you, Muses! Oh, thank me, person who refuses to throw away writing for years on end!

Another self-explanatory goldmine I found was a file labeled “Best Clips.” This also puts me squarely back in the freelance business. (I see lots of document scanning over the break.) I have a magazine article, possibly series, that I need to nail down. I miss writing for magazines. One thing I’ve promised myself as a reward for all the doctoral suffering is a regular magazine gig–the first nanosecond it becomes practical. Blogging is a temporary (and, thus far, unremunerative) substitute for the pleasant pace of print journalism.

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Where Intellect Trumps Grading

Here’s a short list of places that eliminate the whole grade issue in favor of actual intellectual development:

Reed College (?)

New College of Florida

Evergreen State

Bennington (?)

Warren Wilson College (?)

Downside: A narrative transcript can be slanted (accidentally or deliberately) in much the way a job evaluation can be. Perhaps an ideal would include some combination?

Some of these schools can/do include letter grades alongside narrative transcripts.

Maybe if the state universities started adding narrative transcripts for each course. . .

“X is quite charming, but prefers to text-message while others take notes during class. Knowledgeable end user of Facebook/MySpace; however, has no marketable web design skills. With demonstration over time of good work habits, could become a productive member of the academic community; at this time, does not yet demonstrate the level of responsibility required of entry-level office intern. Needs to get serious about the intellectual enterprise.”

Hmmmm.

Wait a minute.

Suppose a written evaluation of the student as student, carefully worded, along with a prescribed course of action, were handed out at midterm?

We already write evaluations on each paper. Why not an overall narrative evaluation of each aspect of the grade, at midterm?

That’s a lot of work.

That might require an “attitude rubric.” Attitude, after all, does affect one’s grade. Perhaps it should be graded.

Interesting.

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Mmmmm…. JUICY AWP panels!

Sounds like the natives are restless… good!

S187. A Department of Our Own. (Brian Clements, David Harvey, Eric Nelson, Abbey Zink, Philip Gerard) The divergent goals of writing programs and English departments are leading to the establishment of many independent writing departments. Representatives of several independent writing departments discuss the advantages and disadvantages of pulling out of the English Dept.; the obstacles to independence; strategies for making the case to administrators; the benefits to students; whether comp goes with Writing or with English; etc.

S121. The Price of the Ticket: Writers of Color & Writing Programs. (David Mura, Tim Seibles, Patricia Smith, Gina Franco, Natalie Diaz, Marilyn Chin) Many writers of color have found writing programs to be alienating and inadequate to their needs as writers. Often we encounter a refusal to recognize our cultural and literary traditions and the communities that have formed us. To explore how programs might become more open to writers of color, this panel will address such issues as aesthetics and the canon, multicultural pedagogy, and personnel and institutional changes (for example, organizations like Cave Canem, VONA, Kundiman, Macando).

S108. Recognizing Common Ground: Creative Writers as Composition Teachers. (Lad Tobin, Michael Steinberg, Robert Root, Sarah Dickerson) MFA TAs and graduates are frequently asked to teach both creative writing workshops and composition courses. To help creative writers become more successful and versatile as teachers and as job candidates, our panel of writer/teachers will point out some assumptions and approaches that are common to both disciplines. They will also offer a range of multi-genre prompts, exercises, and examples that can be applied to both creative nonfiction and composition courses.

F136. Working With Diversity: The Ten Genre Writing Program of the University of British Columbia. (Bryan Wade, Meryn Cadell, Andrew Binks, Alison Acheson) Since the Industrial Revolution people have specialized, often with narrow focus. Has this created a disconnect within ourselves as humans? It is critical to the sustainability of human life and human resources that we work collaboratively and live with the abundance of diversity. What are the rewards of this? What are the challenges? The panel of faculty and students will discuss these, while illuminating the day-to-day realities of a ten-genre program.

F153. Sleeping with the “Enemy”: Garnering Support and Gaining Resources for Creative Writing Programs in a Corporate Era of Higher Education. (Kate Daniels, Judith Baumel, Mark Jarman, Lisa Russ-Spaar) What has been called the “corporate corruption” of U.S. higher education is cause for real concern among faculty, students, and administrators of creative writing programs. Even in the best of times, creative writing programs struggle for their fair share of institutional resources. This panel brings together writers from a variety of different types of colleges and universities to discuss the issue. Panelists have served as administrators of creative writing at the program, department, and decanal level. They will address some of the most urgent concerns, and suggest ways to communicate about arts missions in this new, bottom line-oriented environment in order to procure institutional resources for “soft,” non-revenue-producing curricular areas like creative writing.

Full sked online at http://www.awpwriter.org/conference/2008schedWed.php

Other exciting panels/readings/discussions involve Alicia Ostriker, Judith Johnson, translation, bilingual creative writing communities, and  a study of the interplay of syntax and poetic line, thank you Jesus.

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