Monday, August 03, 2009

Used to be...

I used to think I wanted an MFA to help me set aside time and space to work on my poetry. But after five years of reading essays on the pros & cons of MFAs, the diatribes for and against the "MFA-workshop-poem", as well as the latest saga on whether someone is evil for making a buck off of the truly confused... I have decided that I don't really need an MFA right now. I mean, I've published a chapbook, my poems are being published, my manuscripts have been finalists for publication at various presses, etc.

What would spending $25,000 on an MFA get me? Letters. Okay. I do believe in higher education and I think no one should ever rule out getting an advanced degree if they want one. Many of the poets I know have wonderful things to say about their own MFA experiences. But if the only reasons to spend $25K on an MFA are to dedicate time & space to furthering my creativity... um, I can think of many less expensive ways for me to dedicate time & space for my poetry.

Or, if the reasons are to rub elbows with big names, I've rubbed enough elbows in my time to know it just causes chafing. Mentorship is one area that I will admit am lacking in. I could use the occasional nudge now and then as to poets whose work I might find illuminating, but it's not that I'm not reading everything I can get my hands on right now.

I still assume I will one day get an advanced degree. But the waters currently feel a bit muddy, and I think the pond I'm swimming in right now is clear enough for me.


Karen J. Weyant said...

I love this post! I don't have an MFA, and there are days where I feel I don't belong to the poetry "club". However, at $25,000+, I can't afford that membership! I'm glad for my friends who do have MFA's and are very successful. However, I also know people with MFA's who are far less "successful" in their writing careers than I am.

Steve Rogers said...

I think you are doing just fine. Even though I have a PhD I often feel the "pile it higher and deeper" definition of that degree fits. It's not how you develop your talent, but what you do with it once you know you have it. You have it, so keep up what you are doing. I think you are on the right track.