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listed of funded MFA programs? (and some other questions...)

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Hello all, I have recently been considering applying for MFA programs (in poetry) for fall 2013. I have an MA in English (literature) and applied for English PhDs this year, and was rejected from all of them. I will likely try again for the PhDs at some time, maybe even for 2013 along with my MFA applications, but its become clear to me that writing poetry is my primary passion right now. Being able to write and teach poetry for a living would be a dream, and I had always planned to approach it "obliquely", ie by studying literature and writing poetry when I could squeeze it in, but I've recently had the thought that maybe a more "direct" approach might be better. I have never taken a creative writing class before, and have only showed my poetry to a few close friends (who have been very enthusiastic about it). As a total newbie to the MFA world, I'm wondering about a few things.

--is there a list somewhere of funded MFA programs? I only want to consider programs where I could be fully funded. (Too much debt already from BA, MA.)

--recommendations: I have 4 professors from my MA who wrote recommendations for my PhD apps and who I know could speak very highly of my academic abilities, work ethic, etc., but they've never seen my poetry and I don't particularly want to show it to them. Would it be ok to just have them write about me as a student, in general, and just let the poetry evaluation happen when the adcomm looks at my writing sample? Or do I HAVE to show these professors my poetry?

--I'm entirely self-educated as a poet and thus have had no "professional" feedback on my work. It would be nice, before applying to MFA programs, to get some feedback from someone who is in this world and could tell me honestly whether I even have a chance, or not to bother, etc.... because I really have NO idea. I'm working in Korea right now so don't really have access to universities where people speak fluent English. Is there any sort of online forum or something where MFA- type people can anonymously share work, provide feedback, etc?

Thanks so much for any help you can give me!! :)

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Posted

another thought: since I've been on the "academic" side of things for so long I think that really comes through in my work. My poems tend to be a bit philosophical (though not in a stiff, dry way or anything...) and I just wonder if that sort of approach is looked down on my MFA programs at all (somewhere I heard that they could tend to be "anti-academic.") Are they more focused on autobiographical writing and stuff like that? I actually think my work is somewhere between autobiographical and philosophical... but it is more tipped towards philosophical. I'm very interested in explorations of what poetry is, what the aesthetic experience is, etc... through poetry itself. I'm obsessed with Martin Heidegger's notion of "poetic thinking." Could this kind of thing be supported at an MFA program?

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Posted

I really can't speak to the nature of MFA programs, but I do think it would be beneficial to have your professors read your poetry. Partly because I feel it would allow for them to write more germane letters of recommendation, and because it would allow you some of the feedback you're looking for.

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As a starting point I would check out the ubiquitous MFA blog: http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/ and the MFA Draft facebook group which is linked to there.

Securing a well-funded spot at a good MFA program is a very competitive business, so I would start discussing your poetry with someone else (faculty members, classmates, members of the facebook group referenced above) as soon as you can. Not to question your writing ability, but I think it's very difficult to produce a body of good poetry without discussion and feedback. Also, the numbers of students admitted at well-funded programs are such that it's basically a lottery, even for students with stellar portfolios. Going through the documents of the facebook group is a good way to get a sense of what you're getting yourself into.

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