As a graduate of the lowest ranked MFA program in the country, I thought I’d weigh in on the current cacophony of the MFA this & MFA that debate.
I guess the two main essays currently having balls dragged over them (and I’m talking eyes here) are that Boudinot thing and that Anonymous yelp at Electric Literature, which is full of typos and dumb dumb-ness.
They’re both stupid.
Boudinot sounds like a crotchety old hack teacher (thankfully retired) and Anonymous sounds like some elite piece of swine. I mean, he (let’s face it, it’s gotta be a white dude) points out for us the good MFA programs, y’know, declares that all subsequent programs are mere predators of the lowly student—the kind of student that has aspiration but no motivation.
There are all kinds of things in this world. So many, we can’t even count.
As far as I can tell, the writers I studied with were not limited by their writing talent or their reading habits. They were situated, rather, by geography and culture. The Rio Grande Valley is about 90 percent Hispanic, and it is notorious for producing people who don’t want to leave it. My fellow students wanted MFA’s, didn’t want to move to get one. Can you blame them? School is expensive. Why incur debt in a land far from home?
I did not go to one of those AMAZING schools that funds their students. I paid for school with money I earned teaching Special Ed. During the day, I would work with kids who had a variety of specific needs (some of them needed their diapers changed) and at night I would attend classes.
I applied to exactly ONE MFA program. I applied to that ONE MFA program for TWO reasons.
1) I wanted an MFA.
2) The school was nearby, and I could keep my job while I attended it.
But, since I paid for my education and because my school was a recent start up, Anonymous might assume my program was “taking advantage of desperate people who don’t know any better.”
Am I desperate to you then?
Do I know nothing, friend?
I paid $10,000 in MFA tuition. Two weeks after I graduated from said program, I got a college teaching job which paid me, with overloads, exactly $10,000 more a year than I made teaching Special Ed.
Shit, I had it figured out.
The problem with most people who would weigh in on the MFA debate is they’re prescribing roads for strangers. Why would you do that? Who are you to say anyone should do anything?
Ryan Boudinot’s debut collection had a title story that ripped off a South Park episode. And Anonymous is so terrified of a backlash he won’t even tell you his name. These are people we should listen to because? These people should evaluate the world because?
They both seem positively indignant that those who seem lesser than they, would ever attempt to enter the MFA fray. Why? Neither of them are famous writers. There’s at least 100 folks well suited to look at them and say, “You can’t write. You annoy me. Shut the fuck up.”
Perhaps this is what they know: they know they’re mediocre.
Misery likes company.
They’re spitting on those they can hit with spit.
For most of the world, though, there should be a disconnect.
Why are people who’ve earned money from MFA programs putting down MFA programs? Why are people with MFA’s talking shit about MFA’s?
This is America, friends. A bunch of people get what they want and don’t want others to get it.
Old folks call Obamacare a handout while getting Medicare treatment which is heavily subsidized.
Do what you want. No one knows what’s best for you, and you don’t know what’s best for others.
If you do get an MFA, though, remember there are no equations in writing. This doesn’t always lead to that.The MFA might get you a teaching job. That’s why I got mine. It was fun. I liked it.
Whatever Boudinot and Anonymous are talking about is merely for them.
They’re just talking for them.
They got thoughts that just have to come out.
Remember, they’ve never met you.
Here are links to purchase books put out by writers who I was grateful to get to study with at my MFA glutting institution. I don’t think any of these writers would have MFA’s if it weren’t for my MFA glutting institution. They might not have ever put out books if not for my MFA glutting institution. And that would make the world a sadder, though more homogenous, kind of place.
Rodney Gomez – Mouth Filled with Night
Joeseph D Haske – North Dixie Highway
Erika Garza Johnson – Unwoven
Juan Ochoa – Mariguano
Isaac Chavarria – Poxo
Katie Hoerth – Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots
Myra Infante – Combustible Sinners