Journeys Tales from the MFA

a winter wuthering heights

tales from the MFA

I have been in an intensive first residency of my poetry MFA program. We have been lodged in Northfield, MA, which has been described as the “Wuthering Heights Residency.” The campus has myriad architectural styles gracing the buildings, along with two graves in the middle of the campus that turned out to be those of D.L. Moody and his wife.

My class consists of ten other students who are so different and varied from each other both in temperament and personality as well as poetic style. One of the things that I think each of us can attest to is a sense that we have struggled at least once throughout the week about why we are here, if we’re qualified to be a part of this community. As my new friend Mercedes pointed out, if we didn’t care then it wouldn’t matter. Ours is a class that cares a lot.

We request three mentors and the faculty decide who they take on. I was partnered with my first choice: Alicia Ostriker. Her work is rich in the midrashic tradition and lush with imagery. Check her out at Over our course of meetings, I have learned we both love to draw, have an affinity for India and a passion for artists like Chagall. It’s such an honor to have her as my guru-ji. 🙂 This semester I will be working on four major topics: Self + Spirit; Self + World; Narrative; and Tradition. Every student has four packets full of fun due throughout the semester. Ours will be a semester rich in work and words.

Tomorrow we will traipse around the campus while being videotaped for fun. I have been dubbed the director, so will don my best George Lucas hat. We are wanting to memorialize these early moments in our careers and friendships. As numerous “upper classmen” have stated, “Ours is a strong class.”

I am coming back to San Francisco Saturday and interested to see how the dominoes will fall. The time here has been invaluable as well as the direction received from multiple faculty and students. We have each been able to nicely admit that poets are eccentric people who tell the truth slant. So it is refreshing to be with others who are trying passionately to pursue the truth in the written artistic vase that is poetry. Ours is an intimate circle of 65ish.

And this is just the beginning…

Journeys Tales from the MFA

the weight of waiting

tales of the MFA

In January, I set off for Boston to a slew of writing workshops and classes, a fresh sea of faces, among whom could be my next friend and writing confidante. In the meantime, I wait, trying to anticipate what a modicum of a schedule for my first semester will look like. I write everyday, through the medium of a blog or poems- they have not been tepid in their response and life seems to have such fodder presently.

At Green Apple Books tonight, I rifled through the “Writers and Poets” magazine, reading up on MFA programs and the fuel under my candle came in the assessment of low residency programs as providing a “real world” experience to writers by teaching discipline in the midst of working, loving, living. And so I wait, considering that I like life to be bubbling over with activity and will embrace whatever realities and relationship curvings that come with an immersion in a life of letters.