Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fantastic MFA Program with Brian Turner and Colum McCann - Too Cool for School, But It's Poetry / Prose School

Poets Brian Turner and Patricia Smith; Novelist Colum McCann for prose!
Sometimes I wish I could turn the hourglass back a few decades and become a student again. Life as a writer means there's always more to learn, to play with, and to be inspired by.

I know from my teaching at the Antioch MFA Creative Writing Program a few years ago that on-line MFA programs offer the adult learner (or the young person who needs to work) a wonderful way to work and be in school full-time all at once. I taught at Antioch during the "glory years" right after Eloise Klein Healey had created and then directed the program, the residencies had a wonderful energy back then; the kind of magic that comes from a brand new endeavor. Because of Eloise, the Low Residency program (the first on the West coast, I believe) was, for a few years, an exceptionally vibrant program.

Now there's another new program on the block -- just entering its early adolescence --- the low-residency MFA at Sierra Nevada College would be my program of choice today. Why, you might ask? First, because it's one of the only MFA low residency programs that actually offer fellowships; because there is a focus on joining poets with the world around them, and because  my good friend and former MFA classmate (we studied at the University of Oregon together) poet Brian Turner is the founding director of the program. If you don't know his books, Here Bullet and Phantom Noise, find them immediately and delve in.

This year the writer-in-residence at Sierra College is my absolutely favorite novelist, Colum McCann. He is best known for the brilliant Let the Great World Spin but I think my favorite is his newest novel, Transatlantic, that includes a wonderful investigation into Frederick Douglas's visit to Ireland as well as insights into Senator George Mitchell's important work negotiating peace for Northern Ireland. I love the way McCann wields a sentence and stretches an idea from history into the present moment. For an earlier novel, McCann went and lived in the New York underground tunnels (it is rumored) and thus wrote a compelling (and perhaps this is actually my favorite) book, This Side of Brightness.

I can think of no better poets and writers to work with than the ones gathered together in this poetry community. Not only are these writers among the most brilliant working today, they are also among the most generous people I know.

I have not even mentioned the poets Patricia Smith, Nathalie Handel, and Lee Herrick who are also on faculty. No small change here.

If you are even remotely thinking about doing an MFA --- and if you are interested in fellowship money for the 2014 year. Now is the time to check out this global, generous, and glorious (so many g's) program. Here's the information you need -- click here!

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