2013 MFA Index: Further Reading

by Seth Abramson

Online Exclusive

Online Only, posted 8.17.12

September/October 2012

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Student-Faculty Ratio

Using data on individual programs’ total student-body sizes, along with recitations of full-time core faculty in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from program websites and the Poets & Writers Magazine online MFA database, student-faculty ratios were calculated for the 122 full-residency MFA programs (75 percent of all such programs) with both sets of data available. Tiebreakers in student-faculty ratio were awarded (where necessary and where possible) to the program with the higher number of total core faculty members. Note that this listing takes into account any and all fiction, poetry, and nonfiction faculty and students at individual programs, not merely faculty and students in the former two genres.

Just as a large percentage of applicants report that they prefer, all things being equal, a more selective program, or a better-funded program, or a program that performs better at placing its graduates in fellowships and full-time jobs post-graduation, generally speaking creative writing graduate students prefer a lower student-faculty ratio to a higher one—the better to have immediate and meaningful access to those charged with instructing, mentoring, and advising them.

Fellowship Placement

Programs' postgraduate fellowship placement records were assessed by determining how many individual "placement events" a given program's current students or (much more commonly) graduates achieved during the past decade (2002 to 2012). Only a limited number of fellowships and residencies are available to MFA graduates while in-program or immediately postgraduation, and fewer still are specifically targeted at current MFA students and/or recent MFA graduates. Most of these make publicly available the names and biographical data of their fellows and residents. The focus for this year's fellowship placement listing was on forty-two of the fellowships and residencies in this group—generally speaking, the nation's most prestigious post-MFA fellowships and residencies.

The fellowships and residencies surveyed for this measure were the following: The Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany; the Amy Clampitt Residency Award at the Amp Clampitt House in Lenox, Massachusetts; the Axton Fellowship at University of Louisville in Kentucky; the Bard Fiction Prize and Residency at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; the Bennett Fellowship/Writer-in-Residence at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire; Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellowships at Middlebury College in Vermont; the Charles Pick Fellowships at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom; the Daehler Fellowship/Writer-in-Residence at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the David T.K. Wong Fiction Fellowships at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom; the Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program at the University of Texas in Austin; the Elma Stuckey Liberal Arts and Sciences Emerging Poet-in-Residence Program; the Emory Creative Writing Fellowship in Atlanta, Georgia; the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Writer-in-Residence Program at Seven Hills School in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowships in Provincetown, Massachusetts; the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellowship in English at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts; the Gettysburg Emerging Writer Lectureship; the Herbert Martin Fellowship in Creative Writing and Diversity at Dayton University in Ohio; the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University in New Jersey; the HUB-BUB Artist-in-Residence Program in Spartanburg, South Carolina; the Hugo House Writer-in-Residence at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, Washington; the James Merrill Writer-in-Residence at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut; the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Residence at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; the Kelly Writers House ArtsEdge Residency at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; the Kenan Visiting Writer Lectureship at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the Kenyon Review Fellowships at Kenyon College, Kenyon, Ohio; the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center Writer-in-Residence Fellowships in Nebraska City, Nebraska *; the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize at Lake Forest College in Illinois; McKnight Artist Fellowships at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Milton Center Image Fellowships at Seattle Pacific University in Washington; the Moseley Fellowship in Creative Writing at Pomona College in Pomona, California; New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowships; the Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York; the Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University; Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships from the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, Illinois; the Writer-in-Residence Residency at the Saint Albans School in Washington, D.C.; the Southern Review Resident Scholar Program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge; the Stadler Fellowship at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; the Steinbeck Fellowship at the Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University in California; the Stegner Fellowships at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California; the Tickner Fellowship at The Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland; Studio Center Fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson *; and the Wisconsin Creative Writing Institute Fellowships at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

* = Due to their brief duration and implicit emphasis on poets and writers already working full-time outside of the academy, these placements were assessed as to low-residency program graduates only.

These forty-two fellowships and residencies played host to 900 placement events between 2002 and 2012. As the fellowship placement listing acknowledges placement “events” rather than placed fellows or residents, it is possible for a single fellow or resident to be the subject of more than one placement event.

As simply ordering programs by the number of their students or graduates subject to placement events between 2002 and 2012 would unfairly favor larger programs (which naturally have more graduates on the fellowship market annually), programs have instead been ordered on the basis of a placement score, calculated as follows: A program's total number of placement events between 2002 and 2012 was divided by the size of the program's annual incoming cohort. The resulting scores ranged from 4.40 to 0.03. In several instances, programs identical both in size and in their number of placement events received identical placement scores; where possible, these ties were broken by privileging the program with the higher number of total placement events. Programs founded during the assessment period had their scores pro-rated on the basis of how many years (out of the last ten) they had had a full class of graduated students on the postgraduate fellowship market.

Because fellowships and residencies draw no distinction between full- and low-residency programs, this is the only measure in which full- and low-residency programs were combined in a single measure. This said, low-residency programs were subsequently granted their own numeric ordering, in recognition of the fact that these programs are hampered by the decreased likelihood that their graduates will seek fellowships or residencies in the first instance (as by definition low-residency students already have full- or part-time employment).

This fellowship placement listing should be used with caution. As selection for a fellowship or residency is often the result of one or more individuals being the "consensus pick(s)" of a panel of judges—and as consensus in art has not always, historically, favored innovation—it is possible for selected fellows and residents to in some instances be amongst the most talented, but not necessarily the most innovative, of their graduating year's national cohort. This is by no means to impugn, or remark upon, the writing of any particular fellow or resident, or on the selections of any particular fellowship or residency. Instead, the emphasis in this caveat is on causation: Applicants should not presume either that a program with a high standing in the placement category can ensure them a fellowship or residency, nor that a program with such a standing necessarily hosts the strongest student cohort if innovation, rather than technical mastery, is the particular interest of the applicant.

Job Placement

Between 2008 and 2012, the most popular online discussion board for creative writing job-seekers pursuing full-time employment at the university level, The Academic Jobs Wiki, listed 353 full-time positions available for poets and fiction writers. Data on the individuals ultimately hired for these openings was available for 220 of these 353 listings (62 percent). Based on research into the educational credentials of the individuals ultimately hired for these positions, an ordered listing was created to indicate which graduate creative writing programs’ alumni enjoyed the most success on the academic job market over these four hiring cycles. The following figures may be of academic interest to those tracking employment opportunities for creative writers in higher education:

2008–2009 Hiring Season: Sixty-eight positions available (hire information available for 62 percent); male/female split for those positions with available data for final fires was 57 percent female, 43 percent male.

2009–2010 Hiring Season: Eighty-four positions available, ten of which were holdovers from the previous year (i.e., cancelled or frozen searches from the previous year); hire information available for 52 percent; male/female split for those positions with available data for final hires was 57 percent female, 43 percent male.

2010–2011 Hiring Season: Seventy-five positions available, eight of which were holdovers from the previous year (i.e., cancelled or frozen searches from the previous year); hire information available for 79 percent; male/female split for those positions with available data for final hires was 51 percent male, 49 percent female.

2011–2012 Hiring Season: One hundred forty-six positions available, one of which was a holdover from the previous year (i.e., a cancelled or frozen search from the previous year); hire information available for 36 percent; male/female split for those positions with available data for final hires was 51 percent male, 49 percent female.

While the number of available creative writing positions in higher education appears to be increasing, given that the world’s 224 full- and low-residency MFA programs, and 33 doctoral programs in creative writing, graduate more than 2,000 poets and 2,000 fiction-writers every year, along with between 500 and 1,000 nonfiction writers (some of whom have qualifications and prior publications in fiction and/or poetry), the data above suggests that each year full-time teaching positions at the university level are available for, on average, well less than 1 percent of graduate creative writing program alumni. Even if graduates were only required to compete for employment against those in their own annual cohort, and even assuming only between 10 and 20 percent of nonfiction program graduates can or do compete for positions advertised for poetry and/or fiction, this figure would be less than 4 percent. Realistically, however, each year’s graduate creative writing program alumni are competing against an ever-increasing stock of unemployed, underemployed, and employed-but-still-job-hunting alumni from previous years.

While surveys of MFA applicants suggest that only about half of the nation’s creative writing program graduates wish to teach, even this statistic—if it is used to amend the figures provided above—cannot bring an individual degree-holding poet or writer’s employment chances (all things being equal) higher than, at best, 8 percent. Consequently, those graduate creative writing programs with the best track records in terms of job placement—the ten highest-placing programs in this measure achieved full-time job-placement rates, during the period assessed, of between 10 and 25 percent—are offering to students significant value-added as they pursue postgraduate employment. Whether higher job placement rates at certain schools are due to stronger alumni networks, better career placement services, better teaching, or simply more talented and/or better-published graduates is unclear, though there appears to be a high correlation between a program’s standing in this measure and its standing in other cohort-assessment indicia.

Program Duration

A program's duration is measured by the average length of its curriculum in years. Some programs allow students to petition to extend their stay; because such petitions are granted on a case-by-case basis, and because the granting of such petitions often results in only an additional unfunded, non-tuition-remitted year of study, individual programs' program-extension policies have not been considered in calculating program duration. Nationally, only one full-residency MFA program is known to be one year in duration, and only two programs are four years in duration. The remaining 164 full-residency programs are either two or three years in duration, with a notable trend being the increasing popularity of three-year programs among applicants.

Generally speaking, few programs that fund less than 33 percent of their incoming students are more than two years in duration. In contrast, fully funded programs are slightly more likely to be three years in duration as opposed to two. Low-residency programs are much more commonly two years in duration rather than three, and yet these programs cannot be measured by their duration because, unlike full-residency programs, they are generally highly flexible with respect to the duration of their students' courses of study.

Assessments of program duration do not consider the availability of postgraduate fellowships, or automatic postgraduate placements, unless these opportunities are guaranteed to all rising third-years in good standing in the program. As applicable, nonguaranteed postgraduate funding opportunities are formally acknowledged in program funding provided the average number of opportunities available each year is known. This said, at least two programs, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, so consistently offer a postgraduate lectureship to all or nearly all of their graduating students that they may nominally be considered (in the case of Cornell University) a three-year program (though some students receive a fourth-year lectureship as well) or, in the case of the three-year program at University of Michigan, a four-year program. Another program, the University of Iowa in Iowa City, is known to offer postgraduate fellowships or lectureships to as many as 33 percent of its graduates. In the index, these three programs have had a “+” appended to their program duration to indicate the frequent availability of program-sponsored postgraduate fellowship and employment opportunities.

Program Size

In the MFA Index, the size of a program's annual incoming cohort is expressed using the usual acronyms for magnitude: XS (Extra-Small, an average total of two to nine students, per matriculating class, across all genres combined); S (Small, ten to nineteen students); M (Medium, twenty to thirty students); L (Large, thirty-one to forty-nine students); and XL (Extra-Large, fifty or more students per year). Because many programs do not include their matriculating class size on their websites, in some instances this data has been extrapolated from other available information. One program, the University of Wisconsin in Madison, was by necessity granted a special dispensation in several categories, as it is the only MFA program in the United States or abroad to admit fiction and poetry students in alternating years. This required two methodological accommodations: (1) using statistical extrapolation for the one-year and four-year applicant surveys (the program’s previous-year percentage of survey responses in the “off-year” genre—that is, the percentage of all poetry-applicant responses compiled for the 2010–2011 application cycle that the University of Wisconsin’s poetry program received—is multiplied by the number of respondents in that genre in the current year; this is then added to the actual number of applicant responses attributable to the program in the “on-year” genre); and (2) averaging the class-size figures for the program. Because the program accepts six poets and six fiction writers every two years, the program is treated as having an average annual matriculating class size of six.

Students Fully Funded

Full funding is defined as the equivalent of a full tuition waiver and a minimum $8,000/academic year stipend. Where the tuition waiver offered is less than 100 percent, the program's stipend value is reduced by the amount an admitted student is asked to pay in tuition annually. All stipend values are adjusted for cost of living. Cost of living assessments were made using the website Sperling's Best Places (www.bestplaces.net/COL/default.aspx). Healthcare costs, administrative fees, and student relocation costs were not estimated or considered, nor was the cost of tuition—as students receiving full funding do not pay tuition.

In setting the stipend value for full funding at a cost-of-living-adjusted $8,000/academic year, the funding listing makes no assertion as to whether this should be considered a living wage. A single individual earning this amount per annum is eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit when filing federal taxes; however, because the "$8,000/academic year" standard translates to $8,000/nine months, this rate of income accrual in fact extrapolates to an annual income of $10,667. This is still below $13,440—the amount, in 2009 dollars, at which a single individual is phased out completely from the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The MFA Index acknowledges that MFA students receiving the minimum full-funding stipend may still find themselves borrowing a de minimis amount (defined as less than $3,000/academic year) to help defray the costs of program attendance. For the purposes of this article, the de minimis borrowing level has been set at that rate of borrowing that both puts an applicant out of range of pro-rated EITC coverage and yet results in less than $10,000 in total federal debt during a three-year MFA program. Of the nation's 41 fully funded full-residency programs, only two are known to offer cost-of-living-adjusted stipends of less than $10,000/academic year.

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Comments

Caterina says...

On the positive side: The application numbers are being called “popularity,” as they should be.

On the less positive side: It appears the Seth has still failed to distinguish “selectivity” from “acceptance rate.” As a Yale University administrator, whom I quoted last year, pointed out, the quality of the applicant pool makes a huge difference. In other words, a program that has a 25 percent acceptance rate might be more selective that some schools with, say, 10 percent acceptance rates. (And I have no bone to pick here: According to Mr. Seth’s own measures, the program I finished has a 4-5% acceptance rate.)

 I’m of course, in the above references, talking about Columbia (and some of the other NYC schools). For whatever reasons, Columbia’s MFA program has been associated with an exceptionally large number of fine writers. Tom Keeley, and Seth Abramson, were correct in alerting MFA applicants to the reality that funding is more available at some schools than at others, and that some of those latter schools are incredibly expensive if you don’t get funding. But it seems that Mr. Seth categorizes such schools as moral transgressions, even though some students get funding from them. (And anyway, if you’re living in NYC and you’ve got the money...)

 I also wrote earlier about Seth’s distinction between “studio” and “academic” MFA programs in creative writing, a distinction that caught my attention because I’d never it anywhere when I applied to programs in the ‘90s—which is why I came to call such terms “Sethisms.”

 Again: I have a friend who, during his MFA program at Iowa, took a seminar under James Alan McPherson--who also has a Harvard Law degree--on early classical Western thought. How is that not “academic”?? And why should we conclude that artistry and intellect are mutually exclusive? Since when? The idea that they're deeply different is a fairly recent distinction in the West.

 And one more time: In my own four-year program, we didn’t study Derrida or Foucault, etc., etc... So is that "academic" or not?

Oh, and I’ll add for good measure: I think Jorie Graham is, at least in her later work, a fantastically bad poet. Iowa (IWW) is lucky to be rid of her. And if we’re talkin’ intellectual stuff: Graham’s stupidly irrelevant references to obscure Latin botanical terms and to quantum theory say one thing she seems to want others to believe about her above all other possibilities: “I’m really really really really smarter than you!!

(And I'll later post a small bit about Columbia.)

 

Caterina says...

Forgot the end-parentheses in the second sentence above ("Sethisms").

Caterina says...

I agree with you, TimO'M.

A few additional claims made by the polll's creator that I'd wanted to respond to, including statments made by him that I think of as "Sethisms--a term I don't mean as denigrating but use because Seth has made a number of claims I'd never heard elsewhere but that he presents as if they should be believed merely because he made them (unless he thinks they carry some other obvious force: e.g., that they're self-evident or were handed down by the MFA Goddess and transcribed by Seth):

1) That MFA programs provide a "nonprofessional, largely unmarketable degree..." The problem with this claim is that this used to not be the case, before the number of MFA programs mushroomed (I think there are too many MFA programs now, and I suspect that some of them were created as cash cows--little equipment required but good salaries for the faculty and cheap labor by those who do manage to get funding from them). Although most Harvard law grads probably do manage to find good-paying jobs in the profession, the same phenomenon, more or less, has happened with law schools--a professional and marketable degree, traditionally: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/business/09law.html?pagewanted=all.

In fact, numerous law professors and members of the American Bar Association have questioned the ethics of this phenomenon.

2) That teaching is a relatively unimportant component in the MFA experience. While Seth is welcome to his opinion on this matter, that's all it is: his opinion. I earned my MFA from a program that, according to Seth, is associated with high post-grad employment. Why did I choose to apply there, though? A) the quality of the alumni; and B) the quality of the writers on the faculty. Most others I knew who had applied to harder-to-get-into programs considered the same two factors.

Although being a good writer doesn't guarantee that one will be a good teacher, I've had only one writing teacher who excelled the former but not the latter. Most good writers are good readers. How can that help (enormously, I'll add) and MFA student? By being read by a nuanced reader who understands the art form--someone who isn't also in competition with you, by the way--you can learn what you're doing well and what you're not doing so well. (Many of us have witnessed or even experienced this phenomenon: where one student will make in workshop a humane and fair-minded criticism of another student's piece and then the latter will later say, as payback, something nasty about the former's work. it's childish but also human, and it's more likely to occur among peers.)

No precise scientific measure will be created for MFA rankings, and I suspect that's why Abramson treats, for example, the quality of the faculty as rather trivial. How would he be able to measuer the quality of the writers on the faculty? By awards won? Which awards? As imperfect as it was, I find the old US News & World Reports helpful in that a) a faculty respondent was unable to rank her own school and b) faculty, who often guest-teach at other programs, have an idea of where the better students tend to be studying. Any more "scientific" a ranking seems highly unlikely to me. 

3) That it's really one's classmates--peers--that determine the quality of one's experience in an MFA program. Again, Mr. Abramson is entitled to his opinion, but that's all it is. A talented poet, and perhaps the gentlest person in my class, left after the first year (of a four-year program) for what he said would just be a "leave." He never returned. One thing he told me before he left was that he'd found no "writing community" there. Others did. But let's face it, an MFA program can include a lot of back-biting among students. (A friend of mine who attended Iowa in the '80s said that a running joke there was that the Iowa Writer's Workshop kept the student counseling services plied with clients. Perhaps the environment there is more humane now. It's refreshing to see the current director publicly state that applicants she's stongly supported--based on their writing sample--have sometimes been, to her surprise, rejected by the rest of the faculty votes.)

4) This distinction between "studio" and "academic" MFA programs, terminology I hadn't encountered pre-Seth Abramson (though I'd done an enormous amount of research on programs before I applied). He's said that Iowa is one of the "least academic" programs. By what measure? That they don't give grades? I know someone who took, during his MFA program there, a seminar that included classical Greek thought and was taught by James Alan McPherson: Pulitzer winner, Guggneheim and MacArthur Prize winner, and graduate of Harvard Law School before he attended the IWW. (Ever read any of his essays, often known for their intellectual, as well as emotional, nuance?) Not an "academic" program? (In contrast, my more "academic" program focused on reading literature as an art form; no postmodernist/post-structuralist/cultural studies-based lit-crit was involved. Otherwise, I wouldn't have attended.)  

5) That the level of the writing of MFA students at Iowa (or similar programs) is exceptional (I wish I could find the reference to that--if I do, I'll include it)--another justification for the claim that teaching isn't all that important?

While, as an undergraduate, I was taking other kinds of courses at Iowa, I used to sneak to the bin of fiction submissions for workshop (but only after the workshop had met) and steal the one or two leftovers (I wasnted to write fiction but was also scared by the prospect). Some of the writing was exceptional. Some of it, though, was rough-hewn (it was a workshop, after all)--and occasionally it was relatively bad, even if the prose was pretty good. My friend once described to me Frank Conroy's response to such stories: "Beautiful prose in the service of what?" (I.E., where was the plot, the characterization, the conflict, the sensory detail...?) Yes, this is hearsay, but I've heard the same depiction from several other grads of the IWW.

Given all of these obvious questions in response to this "ranking" system, what is it that has convinced P&W to attach it's name to it and give it such exposure.

I want to raise one more matter (one I consider at least as important as the above concerns I expressed), but it's getting rather late, so I'll sign off for now.

My feline pal, Caterina (one of three cats I live with), thanks you on my behalf for your indulgence--assuming you've made it this far into my comments.

TimO'M says...

These rankings continue to be an absurd blemish on PW's otherwise superb support for the CW community. The whole debate seems very simple to me - the information is useful, so make it available. But ranking requires criteria, and no-one has yet come up with sensible and generally-applicabe criteria for ranking MFA programs. Seth Abramson's criteria might work for him, and that's great. But putting PW's name on Abramson's ranking is silly (almost as silly as prorating the number of MFA programs founded in the 2010s on the basis of the number founded in 'the first thirty months' of the decade). 

Caterina says...

He argues that surverying MFA graduates would be a create a biased sampling because graduates would tend to rank their own programs highly. Fair enough--at least in theory.

But his method of examining prospective applicants doesn't get rid of the problem of bias; it merely replaces one kind of bias with a set of other biases beyond funding: location, picking "easy" programs regarding admission, having a "connection" to a particular faculty member, etc., etc., etc.

Noticing such details isn't rocket science.

(Oh, by the way: I'm trying to figure out how to separate paragraphs with white space. It seemed easier last year!) 

 

Caterina says...

Bit by bit, I want to respond to several assumptions made by Mr. Abramson. What I'll say tonight:

He describes his respondennts as "well researched," yet he provides no empirical evidence whatesover to support this claim. Also, he states in his "methodology" that his enterprise isn't "scientific" because, he argues, not all programs have responded. The problem, however, is that even if every program WERE to provide all the data he's searching for, his "rankings" (or "index," or whatever P&W wants to call it this year) would STILL be unscientific, and here's part of the reaon that that's the case:

One cannot make assumptions about one's sample without supporting evidence; also, human subjects, when it comes to their OPINIONS or FEELINGS (as opposed to, say, tissue samples), are fraught with well known interpretive difficulties that go beyond those found in the typical study in the natural or physical sciences.

Anyone who fully understands the scientific method understands at least this much: Making unsupported assumptions about your sample is NOT THE WAY SERIOUS SCIENCE IS DONE.

Anyway, more later...

 

Caterina says...

P.S. Sorry for the typos in my first post! I find spell checks useful (though I never rely on grammar checks)--and for that reason, I miss the squiggly red line! (Those can catch clerical errors as well!)

Caterina says...

I've so far put off commenting on this cosmetically altered version of the "rankings." So, apparently, have others. The people I've discussed this topic with have not based their decision not to respond on the judgment that they consider the problems with this barely-different "methodology" solved; they've based it on the question of whether or not we should ignore this enterprise altogether.

I decided I shouldn't. The rankings are based on so many logical and empircal flaws that it's important, I think, for someone to address them (and I'm hardly alone in this opinion). So I'm gonna add my many 2 cents in the next few weeks, when I have spare moments.

As I mentioned last year, my brother is a mathematical (as opposed to applied) statisticain--which means he also understands the applications of stats. Having already read half of the "methodology" (it's still so long), my brother raises the obvious question about sample size. Before I receved a response from him, I'd raised to him the quesiont of the Central Limit Theorem, and the question of when it does not apply. (I first encounted the theorem in stat 101.) It does not apply well to this kind of sampling. 

As I did early on last year, I won't read any of Seth's responses unless a friend tells me that I ought to because of some innacuracy he's made about my claims or other good detail I should consider. I've seen smart and fair questions raised in response to Mr. Abranson's claims: e.g., on (I believe) HTMLGiant, a woman raised the quite reasonable question that myabe it was "misleading" for Abramson to say that Iowa's program was the "best" MFA program long before any other program existed; after all, "better" and "best" imply that there's something to which the item in question can be compared. His response to her was, in my view, rude and unfair.

Besides, I'm not really writing to him anyway.

 

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