MFA in Creative Writing - Kim Dana Kupperman
I am eager to explore what Baron Wormser so aptly describes as an awareness of "how many possibilities exist in a given piece of writing." To that end, the nonfiction craft elements that I emphasize in and out of workshop include:
- Dimensionality (what Phillip Lopate calls "verticality")
- What is omitted
Whenever I teach, I find myself quoting, again and again, Helene Cixous: "Writing and reading are not separate ... a real reader is already on the way to writing." Indeed, a 2009 article in the New York Times noted that there are currently more writers than readers, a condition that seems both germane and antithetical to the pursuit of creative writing as an academic discipline. This paradox, I believe, can be resolved by a focus on creative literacy, an approach that stresses the practice of rigorous reading, looking at a text from the inside out and inspecting the how of a piece of writing instead of the why. Such examination leads students to hone their proficiency and experiences as readers/writers and to scrutinize the larger context in which their writing - their own and that of others - is produced.
As a mentor, I provide margin notes/comments, line edits (hard copy or electronic copy), and a substantive letter about the work as a whole. I invite students to respond to my letter and comments with questions (via e-mail or during scheduled telephone conferences) and to discuss their development as a writer/reader. I expect students to read widely (one book, several essays, and one of several nonfiction-only journals per month) from a collaboratively developed reading list.