Creating Your Own Writer’s Retreat

We are honored with yet another guest blogger, the fabulously talented, Susan Tekulve, fiction/creative non-fiction faculty here at the Converse College Low-Residency MFA.  In this week’s blog, she shares with us how to carve out a little space of one’s own for writing.  Enjoy her suggestions and consider setting aside some time in January for some writing with kindred spirits at our winter residency.  Application deadline is October 1, 2017.

SusanTekulve_0

Shaking Off the Village: Creating Your Own Writer’s Retreat

By Susan Tekulve

One September, I went to live and write in a 1917 camp house at the base of the Seven Sisters Mountain range in Montreat, North Carolina. I needed to finish a novel set in the Southern Highlands. I’d taken three years to write two thirds of this novel, but the story I’d begun so heartily had started to fade.   I worried that I’d lose all the unfinished pages if I didn’t devote myself entirely to them for an unbroken space of time.  For a full year, I’d saved up money and crusaded for a four-month, unpaid leave from my job. By the time I’d secured the leave, however, I had no money left for an “official” writers’ colony, and I’d missed all the deadlines for writer’s residencies that gave out scholarships for room and board.   So I arranged a one-month contract with the owner of the camp house in the mountains of Western North Carolina, about two hours north of my house in South Carolina. Though the characters in my novel are from Southwest Virginia, they have a native intelligence of wilderness and mountains that aren’t too different from those in Western North Carolina.  I wanted to walk the paths my characters might have walked, listen to the Appalachian cadence in their speech. I kept my writing expectations simple; I planned to walk and read, and to work on one troublesome chapter that I’d revised six times over the last three years.  I had the idea that retreating to a place that resembled the home mountains my characters inhabited would unlock the narrative that had been giving me fits, and jumpstart the rest of the novel that I so desperately wanted to finish.

The cove community of Montreat was settled by Scottish Presbyterians in the late nineteenth century, and it resembles a lower highland village. The churches, schools and house foundations are cobbled with golden river rocks.  There are no sidewalks in this settlement, not even a traffic light.  Laurel trails sidle a creek that runs the entire main street, leading to its center, which is a lake that’s lodged like a dark emerald at the foot of the Seven Sisters mountain range and their father mountain, Greybeard. The Seven Sisters and their father are surrounded by an older range of the Blue Ridge Mountains that extend along the main crest of the Eastern Continental Divide.  Summers, the colony brims with schoolchildren in bright, matching t-shirts bussed in for Bible camps, and on weekends adults gather there for spiritual retreats. But September is off season in Montreat, when only the locals and a handful of retired Presbyterian ministers remain. Occasional hippies saunter over from the neighboring town of Black Mountain to hike the trails, hunt mushrooms, drink home-brewed beer on the summits.

On the day I arrived, the fall leaves in the canopies were beginning to show off, their reflections flaming on the lake’s calm surface.  Two enormous white swans patrolled the lake’s rim while male wood ducks gathered on the shady banks, their teal feathers and red eyes surreally bright as they preened and fought over the single dull female.  The lake at the center of the colony was named providentially, Lake Susan.  The house where I would live all month was called Cook’s Cottage, and the owners advertised it with the enticing phrase: “We Sleep Thirteen.”    Shingled with green cedar, the cottage was shaded by pines that endlessly sprinkled needles between the paving stones leading up to the front porch. The family who owned the house had always rented it to the church groups that flocked to Montreat for the Bible camps.  The year before, however, the campers who rented the house kicked a round of holes into the walls, and a small kitchen appliance had gone missing. By the time I approached the owners to see if I could rent their old family home, they’d already decided to keep the house for themselves and rent to an individual tenant on a monthly basis. They spoke of their house as if it were alive, like an aging relative whose care no longer could be entrusted to strangers. “We’re tired of patching up holes in the walls,” they said.  “We’ve come to believe this house wants a writer living in it.”

Moving in, I saw that Cook’s Cottage had kept its promise.  It was equipped to sleep exactly thirteen people. I wandered through each room, counting beds of several makes and sizes.  In the front bedroom, three iron cots were lined in a row.    The master bedroom held a queen-sized bed with a headboard carved from birds-eye maple, and a green apple tree grew right outside the window beside it.   In the sewing room at the back of the house, mid-day sun filtered through pines and half-drawn shades, casting a mystical blue light over two more box springs with mattresses.  All of the rooms were filled with board games with half the pieces missing.  None of the windows possessed a lock.  The entire cottage smelled of the woods and damp, as if it were already becoming part of the earth.

I spent my first day in the house unpacking. In addition to some clothing and linens, I’d brought three boxes:  the first was filled with reference texts on herbs and wildflowers, a slender volume of Thoreau, and a wilderness guide called How to Stay Alive in the Woods; A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter, and Self-Preservation That Makes Starvation in the Wilderness Next to Impossible.  In the second box, I’d stacked books that inspired me, ones that I always keep close by when I write. I added to that a few more books by authors that I’d always wanted to read.  I topped this box off with notebooks and pencils, and a hard copy of my manuscript.  In the third box, I placed my computer, blessedly disconnected from the Internet, and a few writing talismans— a dog eared postcard of a quilt I’d seen once at the Wichita Art Museum, a tapestry of women pictured in various domestic chores, woven with seashells and constellations.  It was called “Women’s Holy Work.” Near my pencil holder, I placed the postcards beside a bowl of stones I’d collected off mountains and shores from around the world. After arranging heavenly and earthly items that made me feel at home and secure, I spent the next several hours in the house wandering through the labyrinth of beds, acquainting myself with the space and light of each room, testing and eliminating mattresses.  “This one is too small, this one is too hard,” I chanted beneath my breath until I settled upon the middle room filled with the queen-sized bed for my sleeping room.  I chose the sewing room with the mystical blue light for an office.

I called my landlady and asked her permission to move a few beds.  Then I began hoisting a few of the excess mattresses over my shoulder, carrying them down the back stairs to the basement, which housed the eight remaining beds promised in the rental ad.  As I stacked the extra mattresses on the beds in the basement, I discovered the family’s old library— several ancient copies of the Bible and the Quran, Treasure Island, The Complete Works of Shakespeare and a book called Where There Is No Doctor, an old medical counselor filled with home remedies used by people living in developing countries.  I carried these books up to the blue sewing room, placing them on a wobbly bookshelf beside my own books.  I scavenged a table from the front room to use for a desk.  Muscles aching from hauling books and mattresses, I fell asleep just after dusk, listening to the woodland noises outside my open window–acorns dropping on the tin roof, the apple tree’s branches swaying, unseen animals moving beneath ferns and hedges. Dozing, I dreamed that a giant raccoon had crept in through one of the unlocked windows in the middle of a storm.  All night, the dream raccoon nested just beneath my pillow.

I woke before dawn the next morning and did not try to write.  Instead, I dressed and put on my hiking boots, heading toward the lake and trail access, vaguely planning to “christen” my retreat with a hike into the mountains.  The smallest summit of The Seven Sisters is called Tomahawk, and it tops at 3700 feet above sea level.  Its antique trails had been re-blazed and graded recently by Eagle scouts.  I decided upon a lower trail along the Blue Ridge called Lookout Trace, a hike described on my map as “a little burst of energy,” a moderate half-hour climb to its summit. At the time, I was under the influence of Henry David Thoreau, who suggests that a good walk allows us to “shake off the village,” free ourselves of worldly engagements.  He claims that the art of walking purchases the freedom and independence that are the capital of poets and writers, a commodity that no money can buy.  He writes, “We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return–prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms.” I had no intention of sending my embalmed heart back to my husband.  The kingdom I’d left behind was hardly desolate. I simply wanted to sharpen a basic skill that had come naturally to me when I was younger–the ability to let go of what Thoreau calls the “daily palaver” that muddies up the senses, and prevents our minds from remaining open to the sights and sounds that keep us in touch with the world around us and ourselves, the sensations that feed into our writing.

The best way to recover this skill is by walking, the kind of aimless sauntering that sets your mind ambling.  The beginning of Lookout Trail was a steady climb through a rhododendron tunnel, cobbled unevenly with petrified tree roots.  As I reached the old trestle road, the halfway point, the gentle grade gave way to four-foot sandstone steps arranged like a giant’s staircase that required rest and more oxygen after climbing each one. The rising sun flickered through the understory, mingling with the blue shades of night lingering on the path. Bear musk wafted across the path.   I began to feel very alone and foolish for being up here alone, but the quest for truth and the freedom to write fiction don’t always co-exist with common sense. Climbing steadily above the earth, my mind remained more fully within my body than it had been for a long time.  I felt newly awakened, independent.    When I hit the bare rocks near the summit, I scrambled the rest of the way up, pulled by the promise of a vista. I scooted out onto the ledge, where spruce and fir grew as if out of air, bristling against the deep blue sky. On the other side of Montreat Valley, the Seven Sisters reclined like the smooth backs of women, all leaning toward their father, Greybeard, a dark, outlaw mountain fringed with clouds.

Thoreau believes that the art of walking is a direct dispensation from heaven.  Sitting on the unearthly summit, I felt as though I’d been given something that I could not purchase.  Later, I learned that I had climbed 700 vertical feet in the last half a mile of the hike, reaching 3,621 feet at Lookout Summit.  I felt a pleasant loosening in my mind and body, the hitches of both opening.  I could see everything around me with more clarity.  I had been lost and blessed by a few hours in the woods.

It took a few more days before I was ready to write. Every day, I walked and read until one day I simply drifted to my desk in that little blue room.  I started by editing the early chapters of the novel.  Then I moved onto revising the “troublesome” chapter that I charged myself with finishing. Around the time the fall rains started, the rest of the chapters of the novel poured forth in a relatively short amount of time.  Two days before my lease ended on the house, the thunderstorms moved in.  As black clouds glided over the ridges, and cloud tendrils rose like the smoke of ancient fires from the ridge clefts, it felt like the mountains were telling me to go. So I went.  I brought home a draft of a finished novel, and enough energy to sustain me as I continued to revise and submit my book for publication over the next year.

 

A Few Tips for Creating Your Own Writing Retreat

 

  • The place you choose for your retreat doesn’t need to be far away, elaborate, or expensive.  It simply needs to have a bedroom that is separate from your workspace, preferably a place to cook simple meals.  Talk to people who own cabins or guesthouses near you.  The best, more affordable places tend to be found by word of mouth.  Also, it’s not always possible, or feasible, to get away for a long stretch of time.  Ask around.  You may know someone across town who would be willing to “loan” you her place one day a week.

 

  • Choose a place that speaks to you, preferably one that your characters might inhabit.  There were many times when the plant and animal life of the Western North Carolina mountains found their way into my novel while I was writing it.    For instance, those enormous swans on the lake and the mystical sewing room found their way into a chapter.  I also received visitations from a doe that led her two fawns beside the window of my sleeping room every evening so that she could spy on me while her fawns grazed on the shade grass at the side of the house.  She made it into the novel, along with the trails I walked, and many other sights and sounds of the Appalachian flora and weather that I became attuned to while living there.

 

  • Keep your expectations simple. Don’t tell yourself that you’re going to write an entire novel, or an entire book of poems, in one month.  You’ll only intimidate yourself out of writing anything at all.  Try bringing one chapter, or a story, that you’ve already been working on, and start with that.  Keeping your goals simple will decrease any timidity, and, most likely, you’ll surprise yourself by far exceeding your expectations.

 

  • Treat yourself to a trip or meal into a nearby town every 2-3 days. If you don’t take periodic breaks, you might risk “undoing” all the good work you’ve completed. I happened to be living near the town of Black Mountain, which hosts several family-run restaurants, so every 2 or 3 days I’d treat myself to a meal at one of the local restaurants.  I am decidedly an extrovert, so this satisfied my hunger for food and my hunger for the company of other human beings all at once.

 

  • Stay connected with people who understand what you are doing. I don’t remember how, but my most disciplined writer friend and colleague, Leslie Pietrzyk, found out about my mountain retreat.  She sent a handwritten note, via my husband, who hand-delivered it during one of his visits.   It was a lovely note of encouragement.  I sent her a thank you email, describing the details of my day, the daily sights and sounds that had astonished me or fed my writing in some way.  Looking back, my emails detailing the minutiae of living in a mountain camp house were probably pretty boring, but Leslie wrote back to me every few days, offering encouragement, insights, and stories of her own.  I recall not having very good cell service, so I had to stand on the back deck of the house, and lean out over the railing while typing my notes to Leslie while the doe and her fawn spied on me, coming closer every day.  These “conversations” were as valuable to me as the quiet, meditative stretches of time I spent “shaking off the village,” freeing myself from worldly concerns so that I could create a fictional world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latest Faculty Publication News

41aYXPz7wdL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_

We are always excited when one of our faculty members has a new publication in the works, but we’re especially happy to announce when their books get the praise they so rightfully deserve.  Fiction faculty member, and author of multiple books, including: Coal Black Horse, Far Bright Star, and The Coldest Night, Robert Olmstead, has an upcoming book, Savage Country, and it has already received a Kirkus starred review, which called Savage Country, “Another gorgeous, brutal masterpiece from a great American writer.”

olmstead_robertRobert Olmstead, fiction faculty

We are excited to read Bob’s latest, and September 26, 2017, seems far too long to wait. And while we’re on the subject of waiting, don’t wait too long to get your application in for the January 2018 residency.  The deadline is October 1, 2017.  You just might get to study with this award-wining writer.

2013-dec-suzanne-photo-225x300Suzanne Cleary, poetry faculty

If poetry is more your thing, check out this wonderful interview with poetry faculty member, Suzanne Cleary.  You can even get a taste of her actual poetry as her piece, “Elm Street” is included at the end of the interview.

As you can see, even though it is summer, it is a busy time in the MFA office keeping up with all our faculty accomplishments.  We look forward to meeting all the new students in January and sharing their achievements when they come.

We have a guest blogger!

Today, we have the special honor of having a guest blogger, the oh-so-talented/amazing, Leslie Pietrzyk.  She is the author of Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day (novels). Her collection of unconventionally linked short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. A new novel, Silver Girl, is forthcoming from Unnamed Press in 2018, and Reversing the River, a historical novel, is being serialized on the literary app Great Jones Street in summer 2017. Her short fiction and essays have appeared/are forthcoming in Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Southern Review, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, The Sun, Shenandoah, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Iowa Review, Washingtonian, The Collagist, and Cincinnati Review. Pietrzyk is a member of the core fiction faculty at the Converse low-residency MFA program and teaches in the MA Program in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

PietrzykLeslie (1)

When I put out the call for guest bloggers, she was the first to respond, always eager to promote our program.  And if you apply to our fiction program, you just might get to study with this award-winning writer.

 

Why I Love the Converse Low-Residency MFA Program

October 1, 2017 is the deadline for joining us in the next semester at Converse for the low-residency MFA program.  We would love to have you learn more about our program, and if it feels right to you, to apply and start up with us in January. You can get all the important details on the website, here.

But here’s what the website can’t tell you:

–How personal this program is, how welcoming our students are to everyone, no matter your age, or where you’re from, or what your writing background is, how our students form tight and lasting and forever bonds with one another, how supportive our students are.

–How much the faculty members care, about the art and craft of the written word, about the program, about helping students become better writers.

–How our students succeed—yes, with the expected and exciting book and journal publications and awards—but also in the moments that aren’t listed with a line on a c.v.  I’ve seen major breakthroughs during the course of a semester, and during the course of the program; writing lives have been transformed.  I’ve been inspired by students who have worked harder than I could imagine anyone working to get it right—that ending, the structure of that critical paper—and I have been brought to tears when someone tackles “the” story they know they need to write but have been afraid of, until now, until they find the courage or permission they need.  I’ve read works of precision that started as fast, 15-minute exercises in workshop.  I’ve seen students accomplish amazing things in their work, impossible things, things that have thrilled me as a teacher and a writer and a reader.

–How much we pack into those days of residency, how we forget about the outer world because we’re alive in the world of the word, how each craft talk and lecture and reading and discussion over dinner feels in direct dialogue with the others, how much a head can spin with new ideas and inspiration, how joyful it is to sit with a group of writers past one, two, three in the morning, talking books and beer, telling stories, laughing at jokes where the punchline is “Kafka.”

–How lucky it feels to belong to this vibrant community of writers.

There are lots of writing programs, and I can’t say which one is “best” or even “best for you.”  All I can say is that this program is something special.  Every time I jump in my car to start the drive down south, chills snake my spine, and I push hard on the gas so I get there faster.

Previously posted in Leslie Pietrzyk’s literary blog, Work in Progress:  www.workinprogressinprogress.com For more information: www.lesliepietrzyk.com

 

Summer Residency Round-Up 2017

IMG_9470.JPG

Well, we made it through another residency, another ten days of frenzied writing, workshops, readings, and even time to squeeze in a little fun and fellowship.  Everybody went home tired and happy and lugging suitcases full of way too many books signed by the amazing authors who read each night.  We even got a visit from our fearless leader on the final night when we celebrated our graduating students, all of whom gave superb readings and craft lectures.  It really was everything you want a summer residency to be: hard work, beautiful writing, and most importantly….air conditioned rooms.  It would be difficult to capture every moment of our fabulous ten days, but here are some highlights. And don’t forget, the deadline to apply for the next residency is October 1, 2017, so don’t miss out!

IMG_9455.JPG   IMG_9454.JPG  IMG_9445.JPG

IMG_9488.JPG         IMG_9489.JPG

Just a sampling of some of the amazing readers we had each night: L to R, Leslie Pietrzyk, Marlin Barton, Clifford Thompson, Richard Tillinghast, and JJ Johnson.

 

IMG_9450.JPG

Did we mention the weather was spectacular?

IMG_9496.JPG  IMG_9497.JPG

Some faculty members: L to R, Robert Olmstead, Jim Minick, Marlin Barton, and Richard Tillinghast.

IMG_9498.JPG  IMG_9503.JPG  IMG_9502.JPG

See?  Everybody was still smiling and laughing days into the residency.

Of course, what we were all really waiting for was the graduation celebration dinner…

IMG_9571.JPG

Our amazing graduates.

IMG_9555.JPG  IMG_9539.JPG

IMG_9564.JPG  IMG_9557.JPG

We know how to have a good time.

So if you haven’t yet sent in your application, get to work so you won’t miss out on the fun in January 2018!

The Not-So-New Newbie

The summer residency is almost here.  The MFA office is busy with all the glamorous work that makes a residency possible, packing envelopes, finalizing arrangements for room and board, answering panicked last minute questions, and just generally relying on our own personal wonder woman/admin, Paula.

Of course, this time around, we are officially doing this whole residency thing without our fearless leader, Rick Mulkey, who is on a well-deserved sabbatical.  This leaves the summer to the new Associate Director, me, Sarah Gray, and my new favorite person in the whole world, Denise Duhamel, who is my savior in addition to being a world-class poet.

It has occurred to me, however, that aside from the faculty and some of the alumni attending the MFA Alumni Days, none of our valued students know me from Adam’s house cat. (This is my favorite colloquialism/cliche.  Don’t take it away from me.)  But seriously, I am so excited (and humbled) to join Rick and all of the amazing faculty in the Converse MFA program, and I thought it might be nice to introduce myself.

Converse College is not new to me.  I began attending Converse as an undergrad at the ripe old age of twenty seven.  (Call me a late bloomer.)  I graduated in 2009 with a BFA in Creative and Professional Writing just as the new MFA low-residency program was starting up.  After being accepted into the very first fiction group, I attended my very first residency three weeks after my undergraduate graduation ceremony.

If you’re in the program, you know what that first residency is like: exciting, exhausting, terrifying, and the best nine/ten days ever.  Two years and a baby later, I was in the first graduating class of the program.  So long story short, I love Converse College and the MFA program, and I am highly invested in the success of the program and its participants.

As far as personal stats, I live in Greer with my husband, seven year old writer/first grade graduate, giant dog, and evil cat.  I turn 40 this year, and I expect a parade.  I read compulsively, and my tastes vary widely from literary fiction to graphic novels to historical fiction to memoirs.

So that’s pretty much it.  I can’t wait to see you all on campus.

SarahGray

I dug this old first residency photo out just for you.  Enjoy. 

What a Residency is Like…in Pictures

So you’re interested in a low residency MFA but don’t know what to expect?  Well, we could tell you about the faculty craft lectures, the workshops, the one-on-one conferences with your faculty mentor, the lifelong friendships that are made, but why not show you what a residency looks like?

8024239734_60834369fe_kFirst there are the craft lectures in our state-of-the-art lecture hall, Dalton Auditorium.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then there are the workshops.  Sharing your work with others can be scary at first, but you’ll soon find that everyone just wants you to succeed.

Some of your most important time during the residency will be spent one-on-one with your faculty mentor, planning out your semester’s reading and writing plan and nailing down your goals for growth as a writer.

Graduating MFA students give craft lectures and readings in front of peers and faculty.

But there is still time for fun and fellowship.  The low-residency experience lends itself to building close friendships with colleagues.

 

If you’re still not sure if the Converse College Low Residency MFA is right for you, we now offer a brief immersion residency and a lecture pass option for those who want to give the program a try without the commitment.

No matter what your interest in the program, feel free to contact us at:

 

Rick Mulkey, Director
(864) 596-9685
Rick.mulkey@converse.edu

Sarah Gray, Associate Director
(864) 596-9550
sarah.gray@converse.edu

Paula Cash, Administrative Assistant
(864) 596-9678
Paula.cash@converse.edu

That Time We Joined the 21st Century

IMG_8927Converse College Low Residency MFA officially has its own Instagram account, and we did it all without once saying, “THE Instagram” or “THE Twitter.”  All of us at the Converse College Low Residency MFA office are feeling quite smug and hip and think our account is on fleek.  Too far?  Too far.  Old fogies aside, we’d love to include you, our followers, current students, prospective students, alumni, and just anyone who loves good literature and the people who write it. If you have a new publication coming out, send us a pic of that too, and we’ll #filter the heck out of that thing and share it. Send in your pics to the office at sarah.gray@converse.edu for us to share on the ‘Gram.  (We slipped into old fogey again, didn’t we?)  What are you reading?  What books are on your personal reading plan for the semester?  How tall is your TBR stack(“to be read list” for the uninitiated.)?  Looking forward to some fun pics and a chance to promote our amazing program, students, faculty, and alumni. And filters.  I really want to play with filters.

How to Make the Most Out of Your MFA Experience

Are you considering applying to a low-residency MFA program?  Already working your way through your second or third residency?  Here’s some sound advice from some of our current faculty:8024243383_27296bcaf8_z (1)“Take this time to experiment with your work and to be open to new ways of writing and new ideas.  Also, this is the only time in your life (probably) when you will be part of an intense community of writers, all working towards the same goal of perfecting their art and craft, all carefully reading and evaluating your work—so, especially during the on-site residencies, be sure to spend time interacting with other students and teachers to develop relationships with other writers that will sustain you after you finish the program.  Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually difficult to develop as a writer if you’re a total hermit!” Leslie Pietrzyk

“Have courage.  Be determined.  Write deliberately.” Robert Olmstead

“As I said before, I would suggest using the program to help establish life-long writing routines.  Also, I think that the forming positive relationships with other MFA students and with MFA faculty members is really important.  Finally, I think that it is important to read all the literature that is introduced to you while you are in the program, and to observe how the professional writers who teach in this program conduct themselves.  All the faculty members who are teaching in this program are successful writers, but they have worked hard to earn their reputations.  It is useful to observe the many ways that writers are able to balance their lives with their writing careers successfully.” Susan Tekulve

Getting Ready for June Residency 2017

While it may seem like we just wrapped up the January residency, June is fast approaching, and the program is working on some exciting new offerings for the upcoming residency.  The first of our “firsts” is the addition of this blog.  Over the next few months, you’ll be hearing from our faculty and students, what they’re reading, what they’re writing, and what they think about that pesky Oxford comma.  It’s simply too long between January and June, and we want to keep in touch with all our students, faculty, and alumni throughout the year, as well as giving prospective students a glimpse into our exciting (and friendly) program.

Another addition to this residency is our MFA Alumni Days, Thursday, June 8th, and Friday, June 9th, a time for our valued alumni to come together for fellowship, learning, and a good, old-fashioned workshop.  Alumni, be sure to have your registration and fees in my May 1st to not miss out on the fun.

If you’re intrigued by the prospect of an MFA program, but you’re not ready to commit to two years of life-changing work, we are now pleased to offer two options that allow prospective students to give our program a try.  The first is an Immersion Residency program where students can listen to lectures and participate in workshops, just like a low-residency MFA student.  The difference?  The cost is significantly less than a full semester, and your work ends when the residency does.  Another low-cost option is our Lecture Pass, which allows prospective students to sit in on faculty lectures on everything from fiction to poetry to literary criticism.  So if you’re not ready to commit to an MFA, please consider checking out non-credit options to see if Converse College is right for you.

The last of the firsts is a change in faculty.  Our brave and fearless leader, Rick Mulkey, will be on sabbatical this semester, and so the June residency will be overseen by the new Associate Director, Sarah Gray.  Sarah is a graduate of the program and a huge fan of Converse College in general.  Poetry faculty member and all-around amazing person, Denise Duhamel,  will be lending her a hand throughout the residency, so if anything goes wrong, remember to blame the new person!

We look forward to seeing all of our returning students and alumni in less than two months, and if writing hard and making friendships that last for years after graduation sounds like something you’d like to do, call our office, click our links, or drop us an email. The place for your next book is here.