Funds raised by Friends of Writers provide scholarships and grants to graduate MFA students. Please help Friends continue to offer this much needed support by contributing to our end-of-year fundraising campaign.
Below is a message from Friends of Writers Board Member, Dean Bakopoulos. We hope it inspires you to consider a year-end gift to FOW. Contribute via the DONATE link in the right sidebar.
Our community of writers is rooted firmly in our love of literature and the rigorous working (and re-working) it takes to make literature of our own. Yet, as grounded as we are in that simple but challenging mission, our community is always evolving as well, as we strive to meet the changing needs of writers in an unpredictable world. That is the work being done by Friends of Writers, through its summer conference, digital craft lectures, Levis stipends for completing a first book, AWP gathering and other projects—and its need-based MFA scholarships, which depend so crucially on your help.
I consider myself a fast writer of first drafts, but in all honesty, asking for that help in the nation’s current political climate has been slow going. My computer bings and shimmers with hundreds of provocative and distracting headlines as I type; each day, more and more urgent causes come to the forefront, requesting help. In typical Warren Wilson MFA fashion, I’ve thrown out many drafts of this letter, hoping that the next one puts on the page what I feel in my heart. I’ve played with tone, structure, and voice—and then I’d check Twitter, and feel perhaps I’d missed the mark yet again.
What kept me working on this letter? First: I am heartened that even in tumultuous 2017, Friends of Writers has been blessed by participation levels of historic significance. For this, we are so grateful, and I find encouragement in the shared belief that our mission is vital. Second: I’ve now mentored nearly four dozen WWCMFA students in the past decade, and I’ve witnessed first-hand how this program changes lives. It does not guarantee ease, or even success, but it does positively impact the way emerging writers see themselves in the world, and thus changes their relationships with the world in dynamic and powerful ways.
At the graduation ceremonies that conclude our residencies, we celebrate our like-mindedness, our common commitment to craft. But perhaps a more important cornerstone of our program’s longevity, success, and deep camaraderie is our ability to challenge one another. Certainly, faculty mentors challenge their students each semester. (Some of these packet exchanges can grow a tad intense, as many of you well know.) But I’ve also seen firsthand how our faculty challenge and support each other, how our lectures and readings and informal late-night conversations and long-distance friendships shape the way we teach and write and live. Most importantly, and most recently, I’ve seen how our students have challenged us, the faculty and leadership of the program, to keep evolving, to keep examining and re-examining the program’s strengths and weaknesses, particularly in our efforts toward greater diversity and access. This has had a remarkable and welcome impact on our unique, extended community these past few years, strengthening our ability to be both challenging and supportive simultaneously, to be like-minded in our commitments to both a rigorous collective vision and unique, individual expression.
Fundraising for the FOW scholarships is not about new buildings, or endowed professorships, or cushier dorm rooms (though we’re not opposed to a donor building us a spa-like headquarters, if one of you has the means and inclination.) No, it is simply about access: the stronger our endowed funds, the more varied the students we can serve. Because of the Friends of Writers’ scholarships, the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson–unlike the many other low-residency programs that have adapted our pioneering model–guarantees financial aid for every admitted student who needs it. For the 2016-17 academic year, FOW has pledged $120,000 in scholarship awards.
Please consider joining me in supporting Friends of Writers this year, as we continue to nurture innovative, daring, much needed new voices. Send gifts electronically to friendsofwriters.org and click the “Donate” button, or by snail mail using the donor card and envelope included in this mailing.
P.S. As many of your own personal journeys of late have included a move to a new physical space, we ask that you help us phase out our snail mail efforts and give us your most recent email address. We promise not to share your contact information with anyone outside of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. We also won’t clog your inbox—most news about faculty and alumni successes, alumni conferences, residency recordings, and program deadlines is available on the FOW blog (http://friendsofwriters.org/blog/). Do sign up for the blog. You get to choose how often you wish to receive it.