The MFA Program Featured in Poets & Writers

A Lifetime to Write: Warren Wilson and the Origins of the Low-Residency MFA

by Jeremiah Chamberlin

Department: Special Section
Issue: September/October 2016
Details: This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the country’s oldest low-residency MFA program in creative writing, established by poet Ellen Bryant Voigt in 1976 at Goddard College before relocating to Warren Wilson College in 1981. Contributing editor Jeremiah Chamberlin explores the program’s history and legendary faculty, and how it has served as a model for other low-residency programs across the country.

This outstanding article is not available online, but is well worth checking out.  Poets & Writers also printed today’s feature image from 1979 when the program was a Goddard College.

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An essay by Dawn Abeita

An essay by alum Dawn Abeita (fiction, ’96) appears dawn abeita the Superstition Review blog:

Guest Post, Dawn Abeita: Virginia and Flannery Together Again

Last year I went on two literary pilgrimages: Great Britain/Virginia Woolf, and Georgia/Flannery O’Connor.

The juxtaposition wasn’t intentional. My husband had work in London and I tagged along, walked around the tiny corner of Woolf’s London called Bloomsbury, then got a car and left him there working while I rambled around Sussex where she later lived. Which is to say that I drove down lanes with hedges that constantly swatted my side view mirrors to visit ramshackle houses with frowsy and riotous interiors.

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An interview with Krys Lee

An interview with alum  (fiction, ’08) about her debut novel, How I Became a North Korean, appears at The Guardian:

Krys Lee’s debut novel, How I Became a North Korean, opens with a description of a lavish banquet hosted in Pyongyang by the dictatorial “Dear Leader”. The guests wear fur coats and Rolex watches, and sit at a mahogany table, eating delicacies flown in from the Tokyo Tsukiji fish market by private jet. Following the meal, the host raises his hand: “a glittering disco globe came down from the ceiling and the Joy Brigade began strutting in pink hot pants to a banned American pop song”. One couple, a senior party official and his wife, whose story we are following, are among those obliged to dance. Suddenly the mood changes, and the evening ends with the official shot dead, and his wife and son, Yongju, forced to flee the totalitarian state across the heavily patrolled border into China.

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An interview with Gabriel Blackwell

An interview with alum Gabriel Blackwell (fiction, ’09) about Madeline E., a cross-genre book about the film Vertigo, appears at Entropy Magazine:

1) In multiple ways, Madeleine E. presents itself to the reader as a continuum of failure. Scotty’s and Judy’s inability to achieve their desires within the scripted universe of Hitchock’s Vertigo; the movie’s own disappointing initial box-office performance; the failure of the narrator to write the book his agent wants him to write; etc. Why is failure such a compelling literary subject?

There’s this scene, a little over midway through Vertigo, where Scottie goes up the tower after the woman he believes is Madeleine Elster. Though he starts up the stairs, he can’t make it all the way to the top. Now, if he had, we, the audience, know, he would have found not only Judy, but also Elster and the “real” Madeleine waiting there for him—the mystery would be solved, the story would be resolved. And to Scottie, getting to the top is the difference between saving Madeleine and letting her die. No matter how one sees it, then, Scottie’s failure to make it up the stairs is quite serious, so serious that thinking of it sends him to some sort of rest cure. Even knowing how serious the situation was, though, Scottie could not make it up the stairs.

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“Once, A Field” by Laura Van Prooyen

A poem by alum Laura Van Prooyen (poetry, ’10) appears at The Cortland Review:

Always wrapped in her red sweater, Frances walked
against the wind. First when the fields were open

and onions stung the air. Then when bare beams
rose into frames, reaching up from fertile soil.

Split-levels took shape and filled with strangers,
and Frances walked among them, her hair

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