Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why I Love the Converse Low-Residency MFA Program

October 1 is the deadline for joining us in the next semester at Converse for the low-residency MFA program.  We would love to have you learn more about our program, and if it feels right to you, to apply and start up with us in January. You can get all the important details on the website, here. 

But here’s what the website can’t tell you:

--How personal this program is, how welcoming our students are to everyone, no matter your age, or where you’re from, or what your writing background is, how our students form tight and lasting and forever bonds with one another, how supportive our students are.

--How much the faculty members care, about the art and craft of the written word, about the program, about helping students become better writers.

--How our students succeed—yes, with the expected and exciting book and journal publications and awards—but also in the moments that aren’t listed with a line on a c.v.  I’ve seen major breakthroughs during the course of a semester, and during the course of the program; writing lives have been transformed.  I’ve been inspired by students who have worked harder than I could imagine anyone working to get it right—that ending, the structure of that critical paper—and I have been brought to tears when someone tackles “the” story they know they need to write but have been afraid of, until now, until they find the courage or permission they need.  I’ve read works of precision that started as fast, 15-minute exercises in workshop.  I’ve seen students accomplish amazing things in their work, impossible things, things that have thrilled me as a teacher and a writer and a reader.

--How much we pack into those days of residency, how we forget about the outer world because we’re alive in the world of the word, how each craft talk and lecture and reading and discussion over dinner feels in direct dialogue with the others, how much a head can spin with new ideas and inspiration, how joyful it is to sit with a group of writers past one, two, three in the morning, talking books and beer, telling stories, laughing at jokes where the punchline is “Kafka.”

--How lucky it feels to belong to this vibrant community of writers.

There are lots of writing programs, and I can’t say which one is “best” or even “best for you.”  All I can say is that this program is something special.  Every time I jump in my car to start the drive down south, chills snake my spine, and I push hard on the gas so I get there faster.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.