Friday, November 21, 2008

Warm Sounds

Mr. Bobby "Blue" Bland for you. I first heard "Two Steps from the Blues" when I was in grad school at ASU. I was over at Michael Guerra and Thea Kuticka's house and Michael had this song playing during a party. They had stained cement floors throughout their rental house, so the sound kicked into every single room. On top of that, the deep tones of this particular song shook the windows. Wow.


Speaking of my ASU days, much has been made of the current crop of potential grad students who have asked for letters of recommendation from me. And I've been a bit whiny, so sorry for that. Thinking back on what I did for grad school, I was no different. I had been a pre-med student prior to my rebirth, but a lot of the core principles of my pre-med lessons were still intact--namely when you want to get into med. school, you've got to apply to a lot of schools because it's ultra competitive. So I applied that practice when I applied to MFA programs. From the top of my head, here's where I applied back in 1995:

American University
Arizona State University
Penn State University
University of Maryland
University of Oregon
University of Pittsburgh
University of Virginia

Mind you, there weren't as many MFA programs out there. I didn't apply to U of Iowa because, well, as you can see, most of my selections were coastal or semi-coastal. I didn't want to live in the Midwest because I had been living in Los Angeles for five years and I figured I wouldn't be able to stomach the cold (sorry Midwest people). I got into all the schools I applied to except UVA.

ASU called me first and they were actually the VERY last application I had filled out. I even had to send it via FedEx because I was running out of time. If I remember correctly, the deadline for the ASU app. was at the end of January and I received a call from them the second week of February. Penn State and U of Oregon called me, maybe a week or two after ASU accepted me. Then came U Maryland and U Pitt. Emerson and American never called me, they just sent me a mailed acceptance letter. UVA's rejection letter came fairly early, like in the early months of February.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say about this whole process is that I don't think it's the same process any longer. I think it's much more competitive. There are a lot more schools and there's a lot more attraction to MFA programs for undergrads. Additionally, a lot of schools are now creating Creative Writing majors, which really wasn't happening when I was in school. Mind you, these are my observations. They're not based on any statistics or statistical analysis. It's just what I see.

So I GET why my students are applying to so many schools. Totally.


Almost done with the letters, so I'll get parts of my life back soon. Until then, I've got three letters I have to create and a few more that I have to print and stuff into envelopes.


The budget crunch has hit Washington State and I'm worried, especially since WWU is a state school. We're a union school now, so there's a bit of a safety net, but still, something will get squeezed at it will affect the family in some way, I'm sure.

I want to go to a movie.


I know what I want for Christmas . . . how about debt relief?


Currently reading American Born Chinese for my Asian American Lit. class next quarter. The special theme of the course will be Asian American Masculinity--because I am the prime example of the Asian American male (chuckle).

Currently spinning Paste Magazine Sampler #49.


Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

I read ABC a couple of weeks ago for my children's lit reading and then gave it to our middle schooler and husband to enjoy.

We all loved the graphics style and the retelling of the Monkey King stories, but DH and I were intrigued by the insertion of Christian themes as an overarching redemption trope.

I'd planned, though, to contrast it with The Invention of Hugo Cabret and the use of graphics as narrative. Hope you enjoy ABC!

Security word: banes

Sejal said...

What year did you apply to grad school Oliver? I do think the whole process has changed. At Marymount we have a whole creative writing minor...nothing like that at my college back when I was in undergrad (now I believe there is a "creative writing concentration"). Have you pointed your students to Tom Kealey's book on MFA programs? Tom's a former UMass MFA classmate of mine...a few of my students have his book and have found it to be a helpful guide...

Oliver de la Paz said...

This'll be my second time through ABC, Bec. It's alright, but I was bothered a bit by that whole redemption bit. I wonder how the students will take it.

Sejal, I actually did get Kealey's book and somehow, a student ran off with it!!! Anyway, tell Tom that he's making money off of my recommendations and that I shall be waiting for my cut. He can mail it to my WWU address.

sandrasimonds said...

Just wanted to say that I was also pre-med and my approach to applying to school was pretty much the same. When my students ask me advice on applying to MFAs, I just tell them to apply to a bunch of schools---and it seems to work!

Susan Allspaw Pomeroy said...

I applied to 13 schools, got into 5. I honestly didn't know that much about ASU when they called me, but it was a good thing.