Poetry at the Post: Should I Get an MFA?

Workshop
BY BILLY COLLINS
I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title.
It gets me right away because I’m in a workshop now

Poetry Workshop outside Galway, Ireland Photo: Maria Hofman
Poetry Workshop outside Galway, Ireland Photo: Maria Hofman

Now that I have an MFA in Creative Writing, writer friends have asked, “Should I get one too?”

Well, I can’t answer that question as getting an MFA is a personal decision based on one’s objectives, needs—and financial resources. But—if you have already decided to take the plunge and commit yourself to 2-4 years of demanding work then Spalding University’s MFA program may be the one for you.

But what I’m not sure about is the voice,
which sounds in places very casual, very blue jeans,…

One of the reasons you may not have applied to an MFA program yet is that you are nervous about the “workshop experience.” I know I was but  “Serious critique doesn’t have to hurt. At Spalding University, you’ll find a top-tier low residency MFA program that celebrates creativity and community, not competition. The program offers real intellectual stimulation in a supportive environment while giving writers the tools to make writing fresher, richer, more uniquely their own. There’s no such thing as a “Spalding voice.” It’s your voice, and at Spalding, it will be heard and read.”

Four years ago I became a member of the Spalding MFA family— a very large family indeed! Not only am I now connected to all of the incredibly talented and caring staff, faculty and fellow students but also to an alumni group over 500 writers strong. In addition, because I elected to do my residencies abroad, I have poet/writer friends around the world—and one of them is currently translating a selection of my poems into Bulgarian!

Poets in Paris Photo courtesy of Stephen Woodward
Poets in Paris Photo courtesy of Stephen Woodward

Residencies abroad? Yes! For me, a global nomad, this was a compelling reason to consider a Spalding MFA.  At Spalding, you have the choice to attend your residencies in Louisville, Ky or abroad—or do a combo of the two. During my years at Spalding, I traveled to Rome, Tuscany, Paris, Dublin, Galway, Prague and Berlin. I actually graduated in Berlin! How cool is that?

Graduating class Summer 2014 Spalding MFA in Writing. A biergarten in Dresden, Germany Photo courtesy of  Karen Chronister
Graduating class Summer 2014 Spalding MFA in Writing. A biergarten in Dresden, Germany Photo courtesy of Karen Chronister

But the best part is that in actuality you never really graduate as you can continue to connect with the Spalding family with opportunities for post graduate study, homecoming in Louisville,  and even travels with the program as an alumn.

In 2015, Spalding’s summer residency will be in Athens and Crete, Greece.

So-what are you waiting for?

The application deadline for spring and summer is February 1. Holy Ouzo! Get that application started today!

You can email: mfa@spalding.edu for more information. Or contact me at alicecatherinej@gmail.com.

You never know—we may meet up this summer in Greece. I hope so! First ouzo is on me!

But then there’s that last stanza, my favorite.
This is where the poem wins me back,

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