Interview With University of Wyoming
Let’s start by talking about the culture at your program. What’s the location like? What are some local hangouts for writers?
My program is in Laramie, Wyoming. The location is very rustic and western. While this may seem like novelty to some, there is a distinct small town charm that comes with living in Laramie. For those who enjoy the outdoors, the summer and early fall months offer a superb landscape for hiking, biking, fishing, camping, and many other activities. There are also a number of coffee shops and bars that are great hangouts for graduate students.
Tell us about your experience in class. What’s the focus of your workshops? What parts of your writing have you put the most focus on?
The focus of the workshop is on the work. Rarely does the professor lecture about craft or so-called rules of writing. While those conversations do come up from time to time, the majority of class time is student-centered. We discuss the weak and strong areas of a manuscript, and what makes them that way. Most students turn in short stories. This makes the workshop a more complete experience. There is no guessing what will come next in the novel. What you have in front of you is what you get.
What sort of funding opportunities are available? What are you teaching? How easy is it to balance your teaching and writing?
Each student is fully funded. We are given a summer stipend, as well. In order to receive the funding, MFA students must teach one section of English composition. This teaching load is incredibly light, and balancing it with time for writing is not a problem in the least. In addition to our full-funding, a large amount of grants are available to those who apply.
What’s been your best memory of working with faculty?
With so many wonderful events my first year, it is hard to pin down one memory. I enjoyed the various dinner parties, readings, and hikes. However, one moment sticks out in my mind. Last October, the MFA program had a cookout in the mountains with Joy Williams and Brad Watson. That afternoon stands out as a perfect example of the University of Wyoming’s MFA program. It was casual and fun, but at the same time we were able to discuss our novels over hotdogs.
What’s been your greatest struggle in graduate school thus far? How has this program shaped your view of craft?
My greatest struggle has been to recognize the strengths in my writing. The program has taught me to acknowledge and even celebrate those strengths while giving me the discipline to pay more attention to my weaknesses.
What’s your next step? What sort of steps does your program take to prepare you for your post-graduate experience?
The program offers various post-graduate resources. In the spring, a panel is put together on finding a teaching job. We are also encouraged to apply for a number of fellowships and residencies. Additionally, the program website offers a comprehensive list of post-graduate resources.
What tips would you give a prospective student who is considering attending your program?
Keep writing and don’t be afraid to ask current students for their opinion of the program.