Alumni Readers Series
The MFA in Creative Writing Program is proud of the program’s alumni. During each residency, the program is pleased to bring in alumni to celebrate and share their professional achievements with students through readings, workshops, and panels. Recent and upcoming alumni readers include Kiara Brinkman, Mark Doty, Karen Essex, and Martha Southgate.
Jane Sprague is the author of the books The Port of Los Angeles (Chax Press, 2009) and, with Tina Darragh and Diane Ward, The *Belladonna Elders Series 8 (*Belladonna, 2009). She is also author of the chapbooks Apache Roadkill (Dusie / Weekend Press, 2009), Sacking the Henwife (Dusie, 2007), Entropic Liberties (with Jonathan Skinner; Dusie, 2006), fuck your pastoral (Subpoetics, 2005) and The Port of Los Angeles (Subpoetics, 2004) among others. Her poems, essays, reviews and interviews with poets and editors have been published in numerous print and online magazines including Columbia Poetry Review, Rain Taxi, How2, Jacket, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics, ecopoetics, Dandelion, Tinfish, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Tarpaulin Sky , Kiosk, P-Queue, Hot Whiskey and others. Since 2004 she has edited and published the imprint Palm Press, www.palmpress.org, an independent press committed to making possible works which interrogate the boundaries of contemporary politics, poetry, pedagogy and poetics. She regularly reads from her work, recent readings include The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church (NYC), The Poetry Center at CSUSF (San Francisco), and Colorado State University at Boulder (Boulder, CO), among others. Additionally, she has curated several reading series in the states of New York and California and the conference “Small Press Culture Workers” (Ithaca, NY, 2004). Her current writing and editorial projects include My Appalachia, a poetry and prose work that explores geography, genocide and generational poverty in upstate New York, where she is from, in addition to the collection Imaginary Syllabi which gathers documents by contemporary writers who teach in modes of radical, utopian, fabulist and generative student-centered pedagogies (Palm Press, 2010). She is an associate faculty member of Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking and its Language and Thinking Workshop. She teaches writing at California State University, Long Beach in Long Beach, CA where she lives on an island with her family.
Kiara Brinkman grew up first in the Midwest and then some more in California. She graduated from Brown University and earned her MFA from Goddard College. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, One Story, Pindeldyboz, and Failbetter.com, among other magazines. She has worked as a teacher, a tutor, and a nanny, and currently lives in San Francisco. Her book, Up High in the Trees, is a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, a Book Sense selection, and a Borders Original Voices pick. It is also Kiara’s Goddard thesis.
Anna Balint is the author of Horse Thief, a collection of short fiction, Curbstone Press, 2004. Earlier publications were Out of the Box, poems, Poetry Around Press, 1991; and spread them crimson sleeves like wings, poems and stories, Poetry Around Press, 1993. She co-edited Poets Against the War, an anthology of poems protesting the Gulf War, 1991. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous journals including, Calyx, Briar Cliff Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Raven Chronicles, Caprice and Stringtown. In 2001, Balint received the Starbucks Foundation “Leading Voices Award” for outstanding work with urban youth in the Puget Sound Region in the field of creative writing. She lives in Seattle, where she teaches creative writing.
Adam Braver’s first book, Mr. Lincoln’s Wars, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer’s pick, a Border’s Original Voices selection, a Book Sense 76 pick, as well as appearing on the San Francisco Chronicle’s bestseller list, among many other year-end lists. His work has also been published in the Cimarron Review and the Pittsburgh Quarterly. He received his MFA from Goddard College in Vermont. Born and raised in California, Braver has now settled in Cranston, RI with his wife and son. He is on faculty in the Creative Writing department at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. His newest novel, Crows Over the Wheatfields, will be published in June 2006.
Karen Essex is a novelist, screenwriter, and award-winning journalist. She is the author of the national and international best-selling novel, Leonardo’s Swans (Doubleday 2006), about the rivalries among the powerful women painted by the great master when he was employed by the Duke of Milan. She has also written two acclaimed biographical novels about the queen of Egypt, Kleopatra and Pharaoh, published in 2001 and 2002, which she adapted into a screenplay for Warner Bros. Essex also adapted Anne Rice’s novel The Mummy or Ramses the Damned into a screenplay for Titanic director James Cameron and 20th Century Fox, and has written a screenplay about Kamehameha, the first king of Hawaii, for Columbia/Tristar. Most recently, she has written a dance movie for Jennifer Lopez Entertainment and Paramount Pictures.
Dickey Nesenger began her work in the film business in 1973 as a documentary and commercial film editor in New York. After moving to Los Angeles in 1978, she worked as a script supervisor on films, television series, commercials and music videos, and alongside such luminaries are Orson Welles and John Frankenheimer. Her screenplay, Commercial was sold to Lighthouse Productions in Los Angeles. Also a playwright, Dickey’s plays have received numerous awards and productions throughout the United States. The Green Lake Monster, a finalist for the prestigious National Heineman Award at Theatre of Louisville for “Best Ten-Minute Play,” was published in Knock and nominated for a Pushcart Prize 2006. She received her MFA in Creative Writing through Goddard College, and currently teaches dramatic writing at Richard Hugo House and Antioch University Seattle, and is a frequent lecturer at Screenwriters’ Salon Seattle.
Christian Peet is the founder and publisher of Tarpaulin Sky Press and the author of the forthcoming true-crime novel, Angela’s Story (GPB/TS Press), as well as a collection of “postcards,” Big American Trip (Shearsman Books), and two cross-genre chapbooks, Pluto: Never Forget (Interbirth Books) and The Nines (Palm Press). Other fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid work appears in anthologies such Chain Arts’ study of feminism, A Megaphone, and Fence Books’ A Best Of Fence, as well as in literary magazines online and in print, including 5-Trope, Action Yes, Delirious Hem, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Everyday Genius, Fence, Ghost Proposal, Montevidayo, No Colony, Octopus Magazine, SleepingFish, Spinning Jenny, Trickhouse, et al.
Selah Saterstrom is the author of The Meat & Spirit Plan [Coffee House Press, Fall 2007], and The Pink Institution [Coffee House Press, 2004]. Her work has recently appeared in Cranbrook Magazine, 14 Hills, Tarpaulin Sky, The American Book Review, and other places. She has been the Case Writer-In-Residence for Western Illinois University and Artist-In-Residence at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She currently lives in Denver where she is on faculty in the University of Denver’s Creative Writing Program.
Martha Southgate received her MFA in fiction from Goddard College. In 1996, her Goddard thesis was published as Another Way to Dance, a young-adult novel which won the Coretta Scott King Genesis Award for Best First Novel. She went on to publish two adult novels: The Fall of Rome (2003), and Third Girl From The Left (2005). She received a 2002 New York Foundation for the Arts grant and has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O, Premiere, and Essence.
Matthew Quick earned his BA through La Salle University and his MFA through Goddard College. His debut novel The Silver Linings Playbook (Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus & Giroux) was lauded by People, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Publishers Weekly, and others. The movie rights for The Silver Linings Playbook have been optioned by The Weinstein Company, and David O. Russell has written the screenplay adaptation. TSLP is being translated into Italian and Spanish, and will soon be released in the UK by Picador. Matthew’s debut young adult novel Sorta Like a Rock Star (Little Brown) will be published in fall 2009. Matthew lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife. (Photo credit: Dave Tavani)
Advisors in the MFA in Creative Writing Program are award-winning professionals who actively write, publish, and produce new work, in addition to teaching. Your advisors will provide detailed editorial feedback, offer support and insight into your writing process, and give you reading suggestions to stoke your creativity.
You will work closely with one advisor each semester. You may choose to work with a different faculty member each term, or you may prefer to work with just two or three over the course of your MFA. In your final semester, you’ll also have the benefit of a “second reader,” a faculty member who will read and provide additional feedback on your thesis as a whole.
At Goddard, advisors don’t try to impose a style on you or dispense the one-size-fits-all type of writing advice you could get from a book. Instead, they strive to help you realize your own unique creative vision.
The MFA in Creative Writing Program supports students writing in the following genres:
- Creative Nonfiction / Memoir
- Libretto Writing
- Television Writing
- Graphic Novel Scriptwriting
- Cross-Genre / Hybrid
The Low-Residency Model
The low-residency model removes the barriers between living your life and learning. Each semester begins with an eight-day residency in Vermont or Washington. Residencies offer seminars, meetings with your advising groups, workshops, one-on-one meetings with an advisor, and presentations. You will also connect with faculty, practitioners, activists, and artists, and your fellow students.
Following the residency, students return home for 16 weeks of independent work in close collaboration with a faculty advisor.
Students in the MFA in Creative Writing Program may choose to attend residencies in either:
- Plainfield, Vermont, on Goddard’s historic main campus, located just outside Montpelier, the state capital. It’s a former farm with a manor garden, surrounding forests, and period architecture.
- Port Townsend, Washington, on our Fort Worden campus, a former Victorian-era Army base with beaches, trails, and a vibrant, seaside arts community on the Pacific Coast, north of Seattle.
When you apply, you’ll select one of these two sites for the duration of your studies.
Goddard College programs operating in Washington State are authorized by the Washington Student Achievement Council. For more information, please refer to Accreditation and Approvals.
The Residency Week
Residency weeks offer an array of classes, readings, lectures, screenings, presentations by visiting luminaries, and formal and informal social gatherings. You’ll join a diverse, passionate, and welcoming community of writers of all ages and walks of life. With these other writers, you’ll immerse yourself in conversation, instruction, and discovery that will ignite your writing process.
Upon arrival you’ll receive a schedule of classes and events in all genres. All offerings are open to all Goddard students, regardless of genre.
- Master classes
- Keynote addresses on each residency’s theme
- Workshops and small seminars on individual texts, authors, forms, and theories
- Take Ten, a ten-minute play festival produced entirely by students (VT campus only)
- Classes and panels with industry professionals from the writing, theater, and publishing worlds
For a preview of the wisdom and advice you can expect at a residency, check out Alchemy of the Word, a collection of past residency keynotes and commencement addresses by our faculty.
At each residency, you’ll be paired with a faculty advisor with whom you’ll meet throughout the week, both in workshop and individually to craft your study plan. This documented plan consists of your semester’s assignments and reading list — all tailored to your specific interests and intentions for your thesis. It will provide the deadlines and guidelines you need to sustain your writing process and achieve your goal of completing your thesis project.
The residency week offers both freedom (an open schedule of classes, with mini “writing retreats” for each genre) and an intense focus on the craft of writing. The residency week is endlessly varied: challenging, invigorating, and inspiring. Best of all, it will launch you into the semester, ready and eager for the work to come.
Monthly “packet exchanges” allow you to sustain an ongoing dialogue with your faculty advisor about your work throughout the semester. Every packet contains your work — creative pages, critical essays, and/or other degree requirements. Packets also include a process letter in which you raise any artistic concerns or questions about your work and life as a writer.
You’ll submit four written packets to your advisor each semester, on specific due dates, and your advisor will respond with detailed margin notes, a comprehensive response letter, and an engaging dialogue about how your critical explorations can assist you in bringing your creative work closer to your vision. In addition, you’ll engage in a “virtual packet” midway through the semester, consisting of a one-hour virtual meeting or phone call with your advisor.
The core focus of your MFA studies is your creative work. The intellectual rigor you gain through reading and critical analysis will help you develop your craft and voice. You’ll have many opportunities to share your work in readings and workshops, and you’ll deepen what you’ve learned by applying it in your Teaching Practicum.
Your thesis project consists of a complete book, play, script, or libretto. To help you progress toward that goal, you’ll be expected to engage actively in creative writing throughout each semester. Our students are encouraged to experiment with different genres and methods at each residency and during their first semester, and by their second semester, select a particular genre for their final thesis and concentration.
By the end of your final semester, you are expected to produce a unified creative thesis of professional quality, conforming to standard industry length. You will share an excerpt from this work at a public reading during your commencement residency.
Close reading is the foundation of the critical work you’ll do at Goddard. Close reading means avidly exploring the construction of the text and moving beyond general impressions to note specific authorial choices and to consider their implications.
Each semester you will work with your advisor to create a reading list that reflects the themes, technical/craft issues, and literary traditions you choose to explore in depth. Your selections will be informed by your own personal experiences, educational background, and reading habits, with attention to such factors as gender, genre, and multiculturalism.
In response to your reading, over the course of your MFA you’ll complete 45-60 annotations, two five-page critical papers, and one twenty-page critical paper.
As a terminal degree, the MFA in Creative Writing is a credential for faculty positions in higher education. To offer you the skills necessary to confidently enter the classroom as a teacher of creative writing, you are also required to complete a “teaching practicum,” as described in the next section.
Unique among MFA programs, Goddard has created a model that gives you:
- the freedom to shape the creative writing course that best serves your goals
- your choice of location and student populations
- your choice of craft topics
- an opportunity to expand your resume
- a way to give back to your community
With a minimum of just three students, our students have offered creative writing courses at colleges, grade schools, retirement communities, libraries, juvenile detention centers – even coffee shops!
You can be involved in all aspects of publishing, from editing to layout, with these opportunities:
- The Pitkin Review: the literary journal written and edited by Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing students
- Clockhouse: the national, Pushcart-mentioned literary journal, edited and published by Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing alumni
- The Writer in the World: the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing blog for students and alumni
Visiting Writers & Professionals
At residencies, you’ll meet a diverse range of visiting writers and professionals from the worlds of book publishing, theater, and film and television production.
- Our Visiting Writers Series is one of the most anticipated aspects of each residency. Recent guest writers include Chris Abani, Lynda Barry, Nilo Cruz, Meghan Daum, Mary Gaitskill, Pablo Medina, Dinaw Mengestu, Ruth Ozeki, and Dani Shapiro.
- Our Visiting Professionals Series will introduce you to professionals from the publishing and production industries. Recent guests include editors and agents from Penguin/Tarcher, Hawthorne Books, Janklow & Nesbit, Feminist Press, Simon & Schuster, and Copper Canyon Press.
- Our Alumni Readers Series celebrates the professional achievements of our alumni. Recent alumni readers include Mark Doty, Justin Hall, Cara Hoffman, Simone John, Matthew Quick, and Selah Saterstrom.
- Our Playwrights’ Enrichment Series is unique among MFA writing programs. Once a year, on our Vermont campus, we welcome a visiting luminary from theatre or film. Recent guests include playwrights, librettists, and dramaturgs, as well as literary managers and directors from theatrical powerhouses, such as The Public Theater, HowlRound, Lark Theater, Dramatists Guild, Eugene O’Neill Theater, and the Sundance Institute.
Social Justice Book Club
We are a community of creative writers who are also serious readers—readers who want to be engaged, entertained, and enlightened. We come from a rich array of backgrounds and experiences.
It is this diversity that makes the residency a special place where we can explore books about race, gender, immigration, sexuality, or other topics related to social justice. The resulting conversations allow us to develop our identities—that is, who we are and what we want to say as writers in the world.
Some of the books the SJBC has chosen recently are: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates, Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum, All the Names by Dinaw Mengestu, Fun Home: A Tragicomedy by Alison Bechdel, and Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong.