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You offer a very clear picture of how time pursuing an MFA through Brooklyn will be spent. What makes Brooklyn’s MFA program unique in your eyes?The fiction program at Brooklyn College is rigorous, intimate, and supportive.
In these classes, students are asked to write in genres other than their own.
(Topics for these classes have ranged from “Dictionaries” to “Modernism.”) The intergenre format allows students to learn about the practices, mindsets, and aesthetics of other genres; it sometimes results in cross-genre collaboration, and very often in cross-genre friendship.
Would you describe Brooklyn’s MFA in fiction as highly literary or broader in focus?
Although our students have gone on to write in a variety of genres—our alums have published literary novels and short story collections, young adult novels, children’s novels, mysteries, etc.—our program’s primary focus is on the creation of literary fiction.
Many students are tempted to use their two years to polish and perfect an existing novel draft, for instance, or an existing collection of short stories.
It’s often a better use of time for students to write a body of fresh new work—in doing so, students are often forced to take risks, try out different voices and styles, and discover new approaches to their writing practice.I know this can be difficult to define, but with applications for the following year due soon, what does Brooklyn look for in MFA candidates? It is hard to define, but not necessarily hard to recognize. We don’t seek out any particular style or approach—in our opinion, excellent writing justifies its own means.Although the manuscript is by far the most important piece of the application, we also care about getting a sense of the person behind the writing.Our students, alumni, and faculty receive updates on many such events, opportunities, and resources via a weekly MFA newsletter.Some students choose to take copious advantage of these opportunities—our graduates have started successful literary journals, such as Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading; some students frequently give readings, write book reviews for lit blogs and magazines, and take on literary internships, to list just a few examples.Take advantage of the social resources that your MFA program provides.You’ll need willing readers (and friends with whom to commiserate and celebrate) for the rest of your writing life.Our students receive extensive feedback from faculty members inside and outside of class; it is not unusual for a faculty member to critique a new draft of a student’s work months or even years after a workshop has ended.Our students have the unusual opportunity to take a novel workshop, if they wish.We spoke to Eliza Hornig, Administrator of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Brooklyn College.Take a look at what they have to offer MFA students and pay particular attention to Ms. She offers some valuable insight for writers in any program.