Friday, March 02, 2012

Give Us A Look

A few weeks ago, a former student of mine wrote asking me about a particular low-residency MFA program. It was a different one than the one I teach at. She was particularly interested in the genre fiction possibilities, as she writes in the paranormal arena.

In responding to her, I mostly ended up talking about my program. I didn't mean to make it a hard sell, but I honestly believed the stuff I wrote. Makes me feel like saying it publicly, to. So that's what I'm doing.

Here's what I wrote:

Hi S,

Let me begin by saying I've nothing against the program you're interested in. I don't know that much about it, except that it exists and does popular fiction. I do know a bit about low-residency programs, though, and I think they can be really great for professional writers. I'm a bit advocate for them.

That said, I have a vested interest in another low-residency program. Do you know of the Stonecoast MFA Program? It's a based in Maine. I teach there. Have for the last seven years or so. I was more part-time with them when I was at Fresno State, but I'm back full time now and loving it. The program has a VERY strong popular fiction concentration. It's grown like crazy over the last few years.

Our faculty is terrific. Award winning, actively publishing authors. Since it's SFF that you're interested in, I'll mention that we have James Patrick Kelly (multiple Hugo and Nebula winner) and Elizabeth Hand (multiple award winner and this year's main guest of honor at the World Fantasy Convention and Nancy Holder (who writes horror, YA romance and lots of things in the Buffy universe). Catherynne Valente currently mentors some students too. We've also got other faculty working in other genres!

We're having the paranormal romance writer XX (X's added because I'm not sure if I can ID her yet) visit this summer, and we've had the likes of Nalo Hopkinson and Jeffrey Ford visit recently. Our students are terrific, many of them actively publishing in their genres - or preparing to.

Last year, we ranked eight in Poet&Writers rankings of Low-Residency MFA programs. Most of those programs don't even accept genre fiction. I've no doubt at all that Stonecoast is number #1 for popular fiction.

What else? Um... Our residencies happen on the rocky coast of Maine. Everyday we're in a historic building, the Stonehouse, with views of the ocean. Our winter accommodation is in an awesome, rambling historic inn - the Harraseeket Inn. In the summer we stay at Bowdoin college's campus. Not quite as nice, but we may soon move the summer residencies to an inn as well.

Yeah, I'm very enthusiastic about the program. It's the most honest, useful, supportive and welcoming graduate program I've ever been a part of. (Fresno is high on my list of welcoming programs too, but Stonecoast, for me, exercises both my literary and my popfic inclinations - and that's hard to beat.)

So, if you're looking at low-residency MFA's... do give us a look!


Blogger Bryan Russell said...

Sounds great. And Valente is wonderful - she has blog posts that are better written than most people's novels.

11:12 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Yeah, Cat's terrific. I'm not entirely sure how much she's going to be a part of the program in the long haul, but she's working with us at the moment.

11:47 AM  

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