Thursday, March 29, 2012

MFA Class Schedule ~ Summer Quarter 2012

Summer registration begins June 4. Beth's appointment schedule is available HERE. Please note that the below class schedule is subject to change if necessary due to enrollment numbers.

9-credit in-class clusters:

Prose Poetry--Andrew Pryor--Tuesdays

Creative Nonfiction--David Hollingsworth--Thursdays

Fiction--Mark George--Thursdays

3-credit online classes:

Selected Emphases in Poetry--Eve Jones

Poetry Workshop--Scott Berzon

Flash Fiction Workshop--Mary Anderson


9-credit Prose Poetry (1 text):
Great American Prose Poems
Lehman, David

9-credit Fiction (3 texts):
Art of Fiction
Gardner, John

Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, 2nd Edition
Williford & Martone

Patron Saint of Liars
Anne Patchett

9-credit Creative Nonfiction (1 text):
Writing Creative Nonfiction
Forche & Gerard
Story Press

3-credit Online Selected Emphases in Poetry (1 text):
A Book of Women Poets from Antiquity to Now
Barnstone, Aliki & Willis

3-credit Online Poetry Workshop:
No Textbook Required

3-credit Online Flash Fiction (1 text):
Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction
Masih, Tara
Rose Metal Press

Friday, March 23, 2012

thank you to my TLR editorial assistants

Thank you to Craig, Stacey, Liz, John, Jenn, Lindsey,
Allison, Linda, Tara, Jessica,
Courtney, James, and Heather
for their wonderful work on TLR Issue 2

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

LU MFA in Writing Thesis Guidelines

The final three credit hours of the MFA program are devoted to completion of a graduate thesis—a final writing project that the student produces independently, with midterm feedback from an assigned faculty thesis reader.

Final page count will range from 75 to 100 depending on the student's chosen genre; this page count includes a title page and a required 5-page introductory essay. The final thesis is submitted electronically to the Program Director at the end of the quarter.

The thesis may be a collection of poetry, short fiction, or creative nonfiction/personal essays; a novella; or a memoir. Students may also choose to combine genres (for example, a thesis may include both poetry and short fiction); however, all components should be linked thematically to ensure a cohesive final project.

Up to 50% of the thesis may include revisions of pieces that have been workshopped during the program; at least 50% should be new work written while enrolled in the thesis. The final thesis should be publishable work. 

Note: If a student’s chosen thesis genre is scriptwriting, the student must produce an entirely new script during the quarter in which the student is enrolled in the thesis; the script written during the scriptwriting cluster cannot be revised and used as a final thesis project. To write a script for the final thesis project, special permission must be obtained from scriptwriting faculty prior to enrollment in the thesis.

Students enrolled in the thesis will log into Blackboard once each week during the quarter and click on the appropriate week’s folder. Some weeks require a journal entry, while others remind students to continue writing with upcoming deadlines in mind. 

The thesis is intended to be primarily a time of independent writing for the student. This allows the student to transition from the workshop environment to the post-MFA writing environment. At the beginning of the quarter, a student enrolled in the thesis will complete a journal entry in Blackboard explaining the concept for his or her thesis, along with attachments of any previously workshopped pieces that the student intends to revise for the thesis (up to 50% of the final thesis may be revised workshop pieces). The student will write independently for the first half of the quarter, continuing to log into Blackboard each week to check the weekly folder for journal assignments and due dates.

At midterm, the student will email the Program Director approximately 75% of the thesis (the specific due date will be listed in Blackboard). The Director will forward this work to the assigned midterm reader for feedback. The Director will then forward the midterm reader’s comments to the student. Questions related to the reader’s feedback can be asked in the midterm Blackboard journal entry. The student will spend the remainder of the quarter revising (drawing from the reader’s comments), developing, and completing the creative content; the student will also write the 5-page introductory essay during this time.

The completed thesis (a single Word document including the cover page and the 5-page introductory essay) will be emailed to the Director toward the end of the quarter for final approval. The specific due date will be listed in Blackboard. If the thesis requires revision at this point, the Director may suggest that the student enroll in the Thesis Extension. The cost of the extension is $150, and it gives students an additional quarter to revise and complete the thesis. Students may enroll in an extension up to three times.

The thesis project must include a 5-page essay introducing the thesis, describing the over-arching theme for your project, and reflecting on the journey you have taken as a writer, culminating in this final writing project. You may reflect on your writing interests and experiences before entering the MFA program as well as your time in the program. You can discuss insights you have gained about writing craft or your own writing process. You may include acknowledgements of people who have been supportive or instructive in your journey as a writer. You may discuss books or writers who have inspired you, and you may include quotes from writers you admire (use MLA format for direct quotes). You may include examples of your own creative writing to illustrate points you make about your growth as a writer. Ideally, the introductory essay should be written at midterm or later in the quarter.

Before a grade can be submitted for the thesis, all students must complete the final journal entry in Blackboard and the program survey. Completion of Blackboard journal entries throughout the quarter and adherence to deadlines will be factored into the final thesis grade.

The final thesis must be emailed to the Program Director by the due date designated in Blackboard and must be formatted according to the guidelines below:
  • The thesis must be emailed as a single Word document (both at midterm and for final submission). Do not send separate files for individual portions of the thesis.
  • The first page of your thesis document should be a title page that lists the overall title for your thesis, your name, and the date of final thesis submission.
  • A page number should not appear on the title page (when inserting page numbers, click the box for Different First Page under Design).
  • Insert page numbers beginning with page 2; the page number and your last name should be right-aligned at the bottom of each page.
  • After your title page, begin your 5-page introductory essay.
  • After your introductory essay, begin the creative content of your thesis.
  • The page count for the final thesis must be between 75 and 100 pages (including cover page and introductory essay).
  • Use standard font size.
  • Double-space the intro essay and all prose pieces. Poems should be single-spaced; print one poem per page.
  • Left, right, top, and bottom margins should be set at one inch.
  • If you have any questions, contact the Program Director. 
—revised 3/12 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

LU MFA Students Reflect on the AWP Conference

Nick Alexander, Pat Feeney, and Michelle Sanford

Michelle Sanford:

Attending AWP was such an inspiring experience for me. While working at The Lindenwood Review table, I met so many different writers, editors, and publishers. They all congratulated us on our first issue, showed interest in our program, and wished us future literary luck.

The keynote speaker this year was Margaret Atwood. Months ago, when I found out Atwood was the speaker, I knew I could not miss AWP. A few years ago, I was really struggling to find my writer's voice. In one of my classes, we read a short story by Margaret Atwood, and after that class, I continued to read her work. What I realized during my exploration of Atwood was that I needed to try writing characters from a different perspective, which for me meant beginning to write female characters I felt familiar with. I hadn't even realized that up to that point in my writing career, I had only written from the male perspective. After that, I started to become more comfortable with who I was as a writer and started developing my own writer's voice, instead of a mishmash of others' voices.

One point that Atwood brought up was that when she began writing, there was no such thing as creative writing classes or the study of craft. Writers had to read and figure out what makes a story a story on their own. I have learned that some of the realizations I have made about writing I have had to come to on my own, like with my writer's voice. However, it was in a creative writing class that I was first introduced to Atwood, and it was in a creative writing class that I learned about craft and how to read like a writer. Having the support of the people in our program is invaluable. Without this program, I'm not sure I would have felt comfortable facing the writing world alone, and I'm thankful to be share my experiences with a community of writers.

Nick Alexander:

The yearly AWP conference is an event all aspiring writers need to attend because nowhere else will have over 10,000 writers and editors in one location. AWP’s positive environment was addicting and made it a great place for writers and editors to interact and encourage one another. The lectures ranged from panels discussing craft and pedagogical ideas to readings from established writers. The most difficult aspect of the trip was trying to find enough time to see all the lectures.

AWP’s book fair was a great place to discover new presses looking for submissions and for picking up the latest copies of literary journals. Also, working The Lindenwood Review booth was enjoyable in itself. We received a lot of positive feedback about our first edition; many were excited to read and submit their stories to the next edition.

I know that I’m already saving my money to attend the AWP Conference in Boston in 2013. This is an opportunity that all Lindenwood MFA students should be looking to attend. If there is a booth for The Lindenwood Review again next year, I can see the positions for working the booth being very competitive.

Pat Feeney:

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending my first AWP Annual Conference and Bookfair. As I prepared to leave for Chicago, I spent several hours dissecting the conference schedule, choosing from among hundreds of panels, book signings, receptions, and readings to identify which I most wanted to attend. In addition to these offerings, a huge Bookfair runs in concert with the Conference, featuring presses, literary journals, and books for sale, and I wanted to cover this element thoroughly, as well.

My pre-trip analysis paid off, as I was able to visit all the booths at the Bookfair, and attend a string of sessions that sparked my curiosity, nurtured my creativity, and added to the body of knowledge I’ve gained from Lindenwood’s MFA program. One panel discussion left a particularly deep impression: “Ambitious Fiction” (Lucy Bledsoe, Jane Smiley, Achy Obejas, Allen Gee, Brian Bouldrey).

This panel addressed the need for a writer to identify when a piece of work calls for deep description and/or in-depth character development, versus a bare-bones offering from which the reader is expected to infer a great deal. Some examples of work that require more writing include stories that feature a large cast of characters, stories that address complicated themes, and stories that turn on complex plots. The panelists discussed their recent work – either published or in progress – and how and why they concluded the need for a more full-bodied rendering of the story. For example, Allen Gee is writing a novel of love and betrayal between an Asian man and woman. The male character is intensely passionate, a characterization of an Asian man that is rare in literature. Thus, Gee found he couldn’t do justice to the character with spare language and minimal insight to his motivation. More must be given in order for the reader to draw the intended conclusion about who this character is.

I thought this workshop offered great insight to economy of language, when it works, and when it may fail. The alternative – lush language and/or precise but carefully and slowly drawn characters – has its place, and in fact, at times is required. Though I think minimalist versus lush language is, in part, linked to a writer’s style, I think the panelists made a good case for stories that require the latter.

Beth Mead’s post on the AWP conference can be read here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Congratulations to TLR Contributor Erin Elizabeth Smith

Congratulations to Erin Elizabeth Smith on publication of her poetry collection, The Naming of Strays, which includes two poems that were published in Issue 1 of The Lindenwood Review ("Index of the Midwest" and "The Way the Cold Attaches")Her press release appears below:  

Erin Elizabeth Smith's The Naming of Strays Released
Randolph, MA – Gold Wake Press is pleased to announce the publication of their twelfth full-length print collect, The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press, $14.00) by Erin Elizabeth Smith.

The Naming of Strays is a collection of poems that ruminate on place, transience, gender power, and sexual fidelity. From the orange hills of upstate New York to the Illinois prairie and finally the sultry humidity of the Deep South, these poems deftly draw connections between region and personal experience and the ways in which we are defined by the land around us.

“Erin Elizabeth Smith's The Naming of Strays is on fire in the best possible way—the poems sizzle with sensuality, celebrating all the senses in the way that the best blues music tips us from sadness into full-throated joy. The poems keep moving, shifting, defying expectations, singing the literal and the dream world, exalting the narrative and the experimental. I will recommend this book for poetry workshops as a primer on what poetry is and can do. And for seasoned readers, Erin Elizabeth Smith's work reminds us of why we fell in love with poetry in the first place.”
-Marilyn Kallet

“Erin Elizabeth Smith's poems are delicious—it is hard to resist them. But they bite back, and that is the thing: they're painful, too. And gorgeous, always. The Naming the Strays is luminous, intimate, and never afraid.”
-Paul Guest

"Erin Elizabeth Smith's poetry is the impossible love child of a young Jorie Graham and a old bottle of Jack Daniel's."
-T.A. Noonan

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the author of The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Chainsaw Bears (Dancing Girl Press 2010). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including 32 Poems, New Delta Review, Yalobusha Review, Water~Stone, Cimarron Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Stirring: A Literary Collection and the Best of the Net Anthology.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What I Learned at AWP

  • Margaret Atwood is incredibly funny.
  • Allison Joseph (winner of the AWP/George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature) is eloquent, stunning, inspiring, encouraging, lovely in every way, and exudes goodness. With her words and her hands and the tilt of her head as she speaks, she is the embodiment of poetry.
  • Even panel talks that weren’t what I expected or hoped had me scribbling down good ideas for my teaching, or the program, or the journal. Just take breaks from the panels, browse the bookfair, remember to eat.
  • Not all Chicago deep dish pizzas are created equal: Pizzeria Due  >  Lou Malnati’s  >  Chicago Hilton room service
  • So many writers are gracious and kind, sincerely congratulating us for starting our new literary journal, and telling us our book is beautiful, and recognizing names of authors we’d published. And: writers love free books. We put 500 copies of TLR into the hands of lots of writers from lots of places, and that makes us very happy.
  • Yes, windy. Very, very windy. 
  • My students who manned our bookfair table were wonderful representatives of Lindenwood’s MFA program—generous with their time and knowledge, pleasant and engaging with everyone who stopped by, and endlessly happy to be there. I am so grateful for them, and for our growing program, our new journal, and the University’s support in all of this. That may be the most important thing I learned—how very lucky we are. 
Thank you to Nick, Pat, and Michelle!
--Beth Mead