Posts Categorized: Writing

“MFA vs NYC”: Both, Probably

The archetypal anti-workshop argument was made by David Foster Wallace in “The Fictional Future,” a section of a 1988 essay that is reprinted in “MFA vs NYC.” In his telling, creative-writing programs are filled with teachers who would rather be writing than teaching, and who resent their students for the lost time.

MFA vs. NYC: America now has two distinct literary cultures. Which one will last?

Two years spent in an MFA program, in other words, constitute a tiny and often ineffectual part of the American writer’s lifelong engagement with the university. And yet critics continue to bemoan the mechanizing effects of the programs, and to draw links between a writer’s degree-holding status and her degree of aesthetic freedom. Get out of the schools and live! they urge, forgetting on the one hand how much of contemporary life is lived in the shadow of the university, even if beyond its walls; and on the other hand how much free living an adult can do while attending two classes per week.

Fluffed pieces of insulation
yellow and pink against green
notes left by a tornado.

A Master’s in Chick Lit

I’m a genre writer. Gary Shteyngart hasn’t blurbed any of my novels, and Marion Ettlinger has never photographed me for a book jacket. I’m more at ease with the sequins and shirtless men at the Romantic Times conference than I am with the serious eyewear at poetry readings.

Crowdfunding Scintilla

I started Scintilla three years ago to get back into the literary world of publishing and to learn how to work with WordPress and PHP. Some friends had begun The Cupboard and part of me wished I was involved in a project like that. Why not do it myself, I asked? Armed with a credit card and the support of R, I decided to give it a try. As the magazine has grown, I realized I could use some help. Being free and without ads, there’s no source of revenue. It’s available to anyone with a web connection and I love that. I love that anyone could stumble upon it and enjoy it.

Two weeks ago, I created an IndieGoGo campaign with the goal to raise enough money to cover hosting, the submission manager, and domain registration. We met the goal of $200 last week, but IndieGoGo has a $500 minimum that makes it look like we’re 2/3 of the way there. If you still want to contribute to the magazine, we could definitely use your help, otherwise just keep on submitting great writing. Thanks!

Poem Draft: On Sunday the Atheists Shop

While the lots of First Baptist
and Central Methodist are filled
tight like parishioners in the pews
knees touching knees
beneath khaki and hose
the atheists are on the move
weaving through town
as the minister stands to preach.

Faces unshaven, elastic
waisted pants slipped on
between bedroom and front door
tennis shoes lightly laced
the atheists shop. They pray
to finish before the worshippers
pile into the grocery store
the aisles overflowing with combed hair
eye shadow just so, and kids in collared shirts
as the faithful greet one another, hands
pressed firm, inquiring after grandma
or the girls, amidst the unwashed
who hunt for a bargain
and sample cheese, the lactose covered cracker
crunching and melting in their mouth
a mix of pepper jack and whole grains.

Carts heaped like collection plates
the atheists whisk through the checkout
barcodes scan, small talk is made, numbers
transfer from card to computer.

At home, the family gathers. Bags
are brought in, unloaded.
The ritual completes and the meaning
is found in another day, another week
spent together, preparing food
joining around the table as dinner is served
and silence gives way to voices, laughter
the sounds of people sharing a meal.

1poetry voice noun \ˈpō-ə-trē, -i-trē also ˈpȯ(-)i-trē ˈvȯis\

a : a warbling of the vocal cords that allows the speaker to move from breathless whispers to punctuated singsong according to an unknown rhythm

b : a treatable disease that predominantly affects young poets

Examples of POETRY VOICE

  • “Everywhere and nowhere,” she said in her poetry voice, standing on stage with her eyes closed.
  • I drank so much PBR, I lost my poetry voice!


Middle English, from Old French vois, from Latin voc-, vox;akin to Old High German giwahanen to mention, Greek eposword, speech, Sanskrit vāk voice

First Known Use: 14th century


Related Words