Author Archive

And Then We Came to the End

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“That’s it,” my thesis advisor said. “You’re done.” I still have a month left of classes, but with my thesis velo bound and signed, it’s hard not to feel like my MFA is complete. I’ve got a bunch of new writer-friends (having come into the program with none; most

Those Who Can, Teach

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It’s a question every newly minted, card-carrying poet/fiction writer faces after graduating from an MFA program: should I go and teach creative writing to pay the bills and make connections while I finish my Great American Poetry Collection/Novel? Or should I get as far away from academia as possible?

Exit Strategy

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In six weeks, I’ll be done with my MFA. No more workshops, no more craft classes, no more hanging out in the creative writers’ house, no more external structure or deadlines. It’ll be back to the years B.P.S. (Before Poetry School): making my own schedule for writing, revising, and

Pro Forma, Pro poetica

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Some of you would accuse me of never having had any formal instruction in Latin. Some of you would be correct! If you crack open an issue of a nationally distributed literary magazine these days, you’re unlikely to see a lot of traditional sonnets, villanelles, ballads, or other formal

The Elements of Style

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On the first day of class, my ninth grade biology teacher told us the curriculum called for us to learn science from the least abstract level to the most—biology this year, followed by chemistry, physics, and calculus. “Of course, that’s completely bogus,” he said at the end of this

A Day in the Life

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I’ve worked full time and attended the MFA program at NYU full time for about eighteen months now. While I’ll certainly miss the program and all the people associated with it once I graduate in May, it’ll be something of a relief to return to my usual Monday to

Five Books That Changed How I Think About Writing

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The best books I’ve read haven’t just been good: they’ve changed the way I think about writing, they’ve challenged what I think a book can and should do, they’ve encouraged me to go back to older texts and read them in a new light. In short, they’ve not only

Things I Wish I’d Always Known

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I was teaching undergraduate creative writing last fall, and toward the end of the semester a few of my students began asking me about how, exactly, one becomes a writer. They wanted to know what classes they should take, what sorts of things they should be thinking about or

Under the Influence

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When you were in school, did you ever do one of those projects (usually in a foreign languageclass, where you’re getting the hang of basic vocabulary) in which you invent a family tree? You know, the works: Judi Dench is your grandmother, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is your dad,


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Not much fazes me in the World of Creative Writing—a terrifying realm, to be sure—and though occasionally bummed, I don’t get too shaken up by phrasing such as “Dear Writer,” “we regret to inform you,” and “over x hundred/thousand/million/billion applicants.” So it goes. There are six words, however, that