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By Writers, For Writers
Our program was built entirely by writers, to guide authors organically through the exploration of their craft and thorough preparation for a sustainable life of creation and publication. No other program nurtures a writer from line and sentence to essay, story, poetry collection or novel like ours does.
Our editing semester is a uniquely practical experience in crafting work which is both thrilling and publishable. Our gifted faculty are here because they want to launch unique, individual voices within a global dialogue; to see risks taken, new moves in language braved, and students grow into professional and artistic peers.
Come lean toward our fire and tell us your stories, poems, essays. We’re listening.
How does a low residency MFA program work?
We’ve made this program so that people who are unable to walk away from jobs and families and service can still become masters of their craft . . . NOW.
Over four distance-learning semesters punctuated by five week-long residencies, students will focus on their chosen genre (be it fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction) while exploring new territories of artistic expression.
Faculty meet with their students one-on-one during each residency to set plans, then work with them intensively throughout the semester providing written critiques. With a student-to-mentor ratio never greater than 5:1, students receive creative, focused, individualized feedback.
Each residency is an eight-day intensive period of workshops, seminars, readings and more, in which we explore the wide landscape of the writing life from practical tricks-of-the-trade to subtleties of conceptual nuance. Residencies take place in early January and early August, with the option for every fifth residency overseas. Our August 2014 residency was in Doolin, Ireland, and our January 2017 residency was in Jamaica. The 2019 summer overseas residency will return to Doolin.
Meet Our Faculty
Honorary Creative Writing Faculty
Carolyn Forché: Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950, poet, teacher and activist Carolyn Forché has witnessed, thought about, and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. According to Joyce Carol Oates in the New York Times Book Review, Forché’s ability to wed the “political” with the “personal” places her in the company of such poets as Pablo Neruda, Philip Levine, and Denise Levertov.
Each of our faculty members is an experienced writer and an incredible teacher of their art. Here are a few:
- MFA, University of Arizona
Arianne Zwartjes is the author of the lyric nonfiction project Detailing Trauma: A Poetic Anatomy (University of Iowa Press); a selection from Detailing Trauma won the 2011 Gulf Coast Prize for Nonfiction and was named a Best American Essays Notable Essay. Her writing can be found in Tarpaulin Sky, Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Fourth Genre, Essay Daily, and elsewhere; her previous works include Disem(body), The Surfacing of Excess, and (Stitched) A Surface Opens: Essays. She is currently at work on a manuscript exploring themes of cultural relocation, violence, and migration, and looking at the treatment of refugees in Europe and the US drone program. Zwartjes has taught writing at the University of Arizona, the United World College, Pima Community College, Santa Fe Community College, the UA Poetry Center, Urban Word, and elsewhere. Visit her and her writing at ariannezwartjes.com or on Medium @ariannezwartjes.
- PhD, University of Houston
Lacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based artist, curator, professor, activist, and is author of the memoir The Other Side (Tin House, 2014). For its frank and fearless confrontation of the epidemic of violence against women, The Other Side was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, the CLMP Firecracker Award in Nonfiction; it was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writer Selection for 2014, and was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus, Library Journal, and the Houston Chronicle. She is also author of Trespasses: A Memoir (University of Iowa Press, 2012), which has been anthologized in The Racial Imaginary (Fence Books, 2015, edited by Claudia Rankine et al.) and Literature: The Human Experience.
Johnson worked as a cashier at Wal-Mart, sold steaks door-to-door, and puppeteered with a traveling children’s museum before earning a PhD from University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, where she was both an Erhardt Fellow and Inprint Fondren Fellow. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Dame, Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, TriQuarterly, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. As a writer and artist she been awarded grants and residencies from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, the Houston Arts Alliance, the Kansas Arts Commission, Millay Colony for the Arts, and the University of Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.
Her third book of nonfiction, The Reckonings, is forthcoming from Scribner. She teaches creative nonfiction in the Low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College and at Rice University.
- MFA, Vermont College of Fine Arts
Jessica has a BA in Social Welfare from Bloomsburg University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut picture book biography about Gloria Steinem, Gloria Takes a Stand, is due out in March 2019 with Bloomsbury, and her second biography, yet unannounced, in 2020, also with Bloomsbury. Her middle grade duology, The Dare Sisters, will be out in 2020 and 2021 with Macmillan/Imprint. Jessica writes across all categories and has published creative nonfiction, short stories, and poetry in addition to her forthcoming children’s books.
In 2010, Jessica won second place in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award, and was chosen as one of Warren County New Jersey’s “Writers on the Rise” in 2010 and 2012. In 2017, she was the Writer in Residence at Weymouth Center of the Arts in Southern Pines, North Carolina. She has interned with a literary agency and literary magazine, and currently works as a developmental editor and writing coach for Wild River Publishing and Consulting. Prior to (mostly) full-time writing, Jessica has been a professional actress, literacy teacher, theatre reviewer, a stay-at-home mom, and rounding out her Jane-of-all-trades approach to life, a barista at a fabulous little coffee shop that has provided her a lifetime of fodder for stories.
We want artists who will write for the rest of their lives. If you are interested in adding your voice to this transformative conversation and intrigued by the possibility of working with teachers and peers who are passionate about the art they love, then please contact us — we look forward to meeting you.