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Creative Writing Poetry

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing: Poetry

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Founded in 2002, New England College’s Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program offers a rigorous, individualized graduate education in Poetry and Fiction, with specialized concentrated study options available in the areas of Translation, New Media, and Performance. The New England College Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing combines four semesters of individualized, home-based coursework with five brief residencies on campus. Students are individually mentored by accomplished, award-winning faculty members who are among the most exciting writers in their genres and who also are known for their excellence in teaching. The program has the lowest faculty-student ratio among low-residency Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing programs, and students have an opportunity to work with every member of our outstanding faculty in residency workshops and classes as well as during the mentor-ship semesters. Students also have opportunities to work with distinguished guest faculty and attend events with visiting writers at the residencies.

Program Objectives 

  • Develop an understanding of the history, theories, and movements that have shaped and continue to influence the writing, reading, and critical reception of literary works.
  • Develop the ability to locate one’s own writing in historical, theoretical, and cultural contexts.
  • Develop the ability to engage in rigorous critical discourse on one’s own writing and the work of others.
  • Develop a keen awareness of the writer’s craft and demonstrate effective use of craft in one’s own writing.
  • Apply what one has learned and practiced to the production of a substantial body of literary work. 

Admissions

Admission into the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program is based on a combination of criteria, with most weight given to the strength of the creative writing sample (10 pages of recent poems for Poetry applicants, 20-25 pages of fiction for Fiction applicants, Poetry and Fiction samples for applicants who wish to be considered in both genres). A 2-4 page personal essay addressing the applicant’s writing life, previous study and experience, and personal and professional goals for graduate study and beyond is also required.

Academics

The New England College Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a four-semester/five-residency program (64 credits). Each of the four semesters begins with a brief program residency on the New England College campus. Students then return home for the work of the semester. Students’ home-based coursework is guided by an individualized study plan and one-on-one faculty mentor-ship. In the fourth home-based semester, students work to produce a book-length thesis in either Fiction or Poetry, with support from their faculty mentor and additional feedback provided by a second faculty mentor. Following their fourth home-based semester, students return to campus for a fifth program residency to complete their work in the program, gain hands-on teaching or other professional experience, and participate in graduation events.

Residencies at New England College 

Faculty and students come together in community every six months during program residencies on the New England College campus. The ten-day summer residency is held in late June, prefacing the home-based fall semester, and the six-day winter residency is held in early January, preceding the start of the home-based spring term.

During the campus residency, students attend workshops, lectures, elective classes, literary readings, and community events. Throughout the residency period, students also meet with their faculty mentors to discuss their creative, critical, and theoretical work, and to design their individualized study plans and prepare for the work of the home-based semester ahead.

The New England College Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program is a warm, nurturing community of writers. While the campus program residency schedule is intensive, students and faculty say they find the residency experience to be both productive and energizing. Following the campus residency, students return home to work independently, but with the guidance of their faculty mentor and the members of their MFA community supporting them across the miles via various channels of communication.

Residency Journals 

Students are required to write incisive responses to five residency events (e.g., readings, panels, lectures, presentations, colloquia). The residency journal should be at least ten pages in length and must be submitted with the first packet of the home-based semester.

Home-Based, Mentor-ship Semester 

Students’ home-based coursework is guided by an individualized study plan and one-on-one faculty mentor-ship. Students’ study plans must be reviewed and approved prior to beginning the work of the home-based semester. Many of our students remain connected to their peers throughout the home-based semesters, and students always have designated program contacts to help them with practical issues that may arise and to offer additional support as needed. While the home-based work of the program is designed to mirror and develop the solitary writing practice of a professional writer, it is supported by the mentor-ship faculty, and structured to offer students the ongoing benefits of our rich, encouraging program community.

During the home-based semester, students submit four packets of coursework and engage in an ongoing dialogue with their faculty mentors. The coursework packet contains a cover letter, along with a combination of creative work and critical work, and may also include: revisions, reading journals or annotations, longer papers, special projects, or work in areas of concentrated study (e.g., new media, performance, and translation). Packet work is governed by the individualized study plan developed in one-on-one meetings with the faculty mentor during the campus residency. Home-based coursework packets are submitted every four weeks during the semester, with the entire program following the same schedule of due dates. Faculty mentors will respond to a student’s packet within a week of its receipt, providing the student extensive feedback, suggestions, and resources for their work, and contributing to the ongoing, semester-long mentor-ship discourse. Students are expected to commit a minimum of twenty-four hours per week to their home-based coursework, and their packets must reflect at least this level of investment in their work.

Home-Based Semester Work Requirements 

Cover Letter 

The 2-3 page packet cover letter is intended to frame the creative and critical work of the packet period, discuss the student’s writing process, alert the mentor to any challenges or issues the student may have encountered in the work or writing, and continue the ongoing academic dialogue between the student and her/his mentor.

Substantive Work

Readings

New England College MFA students are expected to read at least twenty books of poetry, fiction, criticism, or theory (or an equivalent amount if readings will include articles, works in journals, etc.) per semester. Students keep reading journals and/or annotate their readings throughout the semester. Poetry students’ semester work also may include poem memorization and recitation, and recitations may be performed at the campus residency.

Creative Work

Poetry: 3-5 page-oriented poems or an equivalent amount of work in new media, performance, translation, or other forms, as defined by the student’s individualized study plan.

Fiction: up to 30 pages, with terms per packet varying according to the form and nature of the work and the terms of individualized study plan (e.g., 2-4 works of micro-fiction, 1 short story, or an equivalent amount excerpted from a longer work).

All students are expected to edit and revise their creative work throughout the semester. Revised works should be submitted with the final packet.

Critical Work

Students must complete eight short (2-3 page) critical papers each semester. Students typically submit two papers per packet, but that is left to the discretion of the faculty mentor. Critical papers must be revised after the student has received feedback from the faculty mentor. Paper revisions should be submitted with the final packet.

Third-Semester Project

In the third semester, students undertake a semester-long critical, creative, or practical/service-oriented project. Students must submit project proposals for faculty approval in advance of the semester, and, once approved, the work of the project must be outlined in the student’s third-semester individualized study plan. Third-semester students are not required to submit critical work outside of the project. The requirements for letters, readings, and creative work are standard.

Thesis Semester

In the fourth home-based semester, students work to produce a book-length thesis in either Fiction or Poetry, with the guidance and support of their faculty mentor. Fourth-semester students receive additional feedback on their theses from a second faculty mentor. Fourth-semester students also must complete a 3-5 page thesis introduction that contextualizes their work and demonstrates fulfillment of program objectives. Following the fourth home-based semester, students return to campus for a fifth program residency in order to complete their work in the program, present their thesis, gain hands-on teaching or other professional experience, and participate in graduation events.

Concentrated Studies 

New England College Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing students have the option to study and create work in new media, performance, and translation. These optional concentrated studies are designed to complement and expand upon students’ work in their specified genre. Elective classes in the program’s concentrated study areas are offered during every campus residency. In the third semester, students may undertake a semester-long project in their area of concentrated study. Students also may choose to include work in their secondary area of concentration during the home-based semesters, in consultation with their faculty mentor.  

Requirements for MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry

Semester 1

  • EN 5110 – Poetry Workshop I Residency (3cr)
  • EN 5210 – Craft, Poetics, and Theory I Residency (3cr)
  • EN 5310 – Tutorial on Poetry I Home-Based  (9cr)
  • EN 7120 – Residency and Reading Journals  (1cr)

Semester 2

  • EN 5120 – Poetry Workshop II Residency (3cr)
  • EN 5220 – Craft, Poetics, and Theory II Residency (3cr)
  • EN 5320 – Tutorial on Poetry II Home-Based   (9cr)
  • EN 7120 – Residency and Reading Journals (1cr)

Semester 3

  • EN 6110 – Poetry Workshop III Residency (3cr)
  • EN 6210 – Craft, Poetics, and Theory III Residency (3cr)
  • EN 6310 – Tutorial on Poetry III Home-Based  (9cr)
  • EN 7120 – Residency and Reading Journals  (1cr)

Semester 4

  • EN 6120 – Poetry Workshop IV Residency (3cr)
  • EN 6410 – Craft, Poetics, and Theory IV Residency (3cr)
  • EN 6420 – Final Manuscript Tutorial Home-Based (9cr)
  • EN 7120 – Residency and reading Journals (1cr)

Course Descriptions for MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry

EN 5110 Poetry Workshop Residency

Poetry workshops are comprised of small practical classes (a ratio of 1 to 5) that focus on close, critical reading of students’ poems. Led by faculty members, these classes meet seven times during the residency session, allowing students the flexibility of two successive workshops with the same faculty member and classmates two out of the seven workshops, and an alternating mix during the rest.

EN 5210 Craft, Poetics, and Theory Residency

These lectures and presentations focus on such subjects of craft and poetic theory as received forms, free verse, tone, lineation, voice, structure, figurative language, imagery, poetic economy, duende, intentionality, poetic devices, etc.

EN 5310 Tutorial on Poetry Correspondence

In addition to exchanging four packets of poems (3-5 poems in each packet) with his or her assigned faculty member for close reading and criticism, each student is also required to complete two craft/critical papers (two to three pages in length) on single poems from books of poetry designated in their correspondence study plans. These short papers are designed to address aesthetic and craft issues (i.e. voice, tone, form, strategy, imagery, etc.) that are relevant to each student’s own writing. Students are also required to read four to five books of poetry and/or criticism during each four week packet period. The correspondence semester is comprised of four packet periods. (9cr)

EN 7120 Residency and Reading Journals, Recitations

Each semester students are expected to keep a reading journal in which they respond to poems or lines of poems from each book of poetry they read. These responses may be either critical or personal or both. Each response should be more than just an initial reaction to the text, but a thoughtful expression that contains a succinct idea. The program director will assess these journals at the start of each new residency. (1 credit reading journals) Note: Residency Journals – Students are required to write on five residency events (lectures, readings, symposiums, forums, panel discussions) of their choice. These journals should be at least ten pages long. 

Contact

New England College
School of Graduate and Professional Studies
98 Bridge Street
Henniker, NH 03242

graduateadmission@nec.edu
603.428.2252