Tuesday, January 12, 2010

You Have Your Poetry MFA...Now What?

Remember the day you received the telephone call or opened the letter that read, "We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Poetry MFA Program...?" Remember the buzz? The celebration? Now, two or three years later, after having invested $30,000-45,000 (or worse, borrowed that amount or more), armed with a manuscript of your 48 best poems, you set out to conquer the literary world.

You apply to several colleges and universities for a teaching position in the creative writing department (you were told that the MFA was the terminal graduate degree in creative writing), send out your manuscript to a dozen first book contests, fill out applications for a few grants and fellowships (until the creative writing job comes through), and wait.

Maybe you're one of the fortunate few (for every 100 MFA graduates there is one teaching position in creative writing departments), who does land a teaching position or get your manuscript published the first year. But maybe you're not. And maybe the job of making a living (or of raising a family or of a hundred other responsibilities) to pay off your loans has crowded into your writing time and you haven't produced any new work in months and you're questioning why you ever got that degree anyway.

Now what?

That's what this blog is about. How to keep on writing poetry and growing as a poet after your poetry MFA.

We'll look at the Post Poetry MFA life through the successes and failures of real live Poetry MFA graduates--what's worked for them and what hasn't, as well as provide links and resources to help you stay on track with your first and most important task: continuing to write!

Hopefully we'll also build a community of poets along the way who help one another grow and help one another reach their professional goals in the same way they helped one another while earning their Poetry MFA.


  1. This blog will fill great needs!!! Thank you Terry! I think we write for an audience and when we lose our teachers and peers as audience, then we must rely on our own resources to conjure a public space for our words, a reason to refine drafts so the poems continue to have a chance to rise out of us. I am the type who likes a running partner, an office mate, a mama-friend. Without poetry friends, I'm alone and the writing stops. I'm lucky to be in community with you!!! Seems blogs are the way to go--this is a beautiful site!

  2. Terry, there is much that shifts after leaving a writing community. The absence of a writing community can be a void after experiencing several years of intimacy with instructors and peers. The realtionships I have maintained have assisted in keeping me writing when all other structures were gone and when I asked myself, "Why the hell am I writing anyway?"

    My working relationships and friendships with other poets in my own post-mfa poetry community have kept me accountable.