Saturday, September 29, 2012

Progress Update

Today I printed, copied, organized, labeled, and sealed away applications for two out of the three MFA programs of which I have decided to apply.  It's too late today to send them out, but both packets are complete with addresses and ready to go first thing on Monday.  Concerning Letters of Recommendation, my professor from college has already sent off two (one to each college), and I have two more writers on board (both to send their letters to one college).  One of those is already written and just needs to be sent.  The other letter just needs to be sent out sometime around October 10th to make sure that it gets there by the 15th.  The two applications that are finished are for the Solstice Low Residency MFA Program at Pine Manor College and the Low Residency MFA at Queens University of Charlotte.  I have another month to finish preparing materials for the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University but I already have two letter writers for that application and I know which novel I am going to provide a critical analysis for.  The director of the RWW has encouraged me to get my essay, writing sample, and critical analysis in as soon as possible and so that is going to be my next goal.  For now though I shall glory in the knowledge that  I have accomplished something.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reading Backwards

Perhaps it is because of my natural proclivity to look for other ways to accomplish rather obvious tasks, or perhaps I just like being difficult, no matter the wherefore, I have lately found that reading backwards is not only enjoyable, but preferable.  This does not work with novels, of course, but it works wonderfully for guides and reference books.  When I read through The Pocket Muse, I used two book marks, one indicating where I was in going from the beginning and one indicating where I was in reading segment by segment backwards from the end.  When I met at the middle, I was finished.  In reading Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones I read the foreword and the introduction, wherein Goldberg indicated that the book could be read in any order desired since each chapter is written as completely as possible, and then proceeded to skip merrily along to the epilogue.  I am a third in from the end now.

Earlier today I analyzed exactly why this reverse reading appeals to me and concluded that it all comes down to the bookmark.  When it is close to the end (or the beginning as the case may be) it makes it seem as if you are almost done with the book, and when it is near the beginning (or the end, you get it, I'm sure) it looks as if you're starting nice and fresh.  In the end it is nothing more than a mind trick that has, thus far, helped me to push forward (backward) with little heed to the logistics.  Something that I've picked up from reading these texts is that it is good to alter routine once in a while, find a new perspective, and shake things up and in reading backwards I am putting theory into practice in a small and tangible way.  In high school we were encouraged to edit for spelling by reading our own essays backwards thereby removing the context of each sentence and leaving the word naked and obvious in its errors.  Walking backwards works a completely different set of muscles, checking off the last item on a to-do list can make everything else seem more manageable, and starting a story at the end can free up a writer in ways they never imagined.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hobbit Day

A friend would like to celebrate Hobbit Day this year and, as it falls a day after my birthday, I see this as a perfect excuse to extend the party.  On the twenty-first of this month I will be making a trek down to Moscow to celebrate my twenty-ninth birthday with my girlfriend, my cousin, and my favorite twins.  The celebration will span the weekend into the following Monday.  We'll be going out to a Japanese restaurant, snagging a few drinks, playing Munchkin and other games, and enjoying a marathon of fighting girl anime.  The rest of the time the plan is to relax, maybe do a little shopping, and, of course, celebrate Hobbit Day.  My plan, and I shall run this by the weekend troopers, is to eat like hobbits (OFTEN! and dining on a menu of scrumptious cheeses, crispy bacon, hearty vegetables, bakery fresh bread, and nice hot tea), run around barefoot whenever possible, go on a quest (most likely to Lewiston), and have a reading from the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.  Maybe we'll even adopt Hobbit personas for the day.  If we do that, I demand to be Pippin.  And I demand beer.  Hobbit beer.  

For further hints on how to celebrate Hobbit Day like a true book worm (or movie buff) please visit these links:

MFA updates and another application in the works...

Last night was as miserable and restless as today was productive and enlightening.  After such a horrid and sleepless night I was surprised by the passion with which I attacked my admittance essays.  I finished not one, but both of the necessary essays for me to be able to apply to Queens and Pine Manor College.  The latter requires an essay up to, but not exceeding, five pages and, as a result, my hands became scissors as I cut and cut and cut until I am now three lines over the limit.  Three lines I can handle, but for now I am letting my beta readers have at it and when I get my feedback I'll set the essay back on the cutting board and trim it down to within the guidelines.  As for the Queens essay, I started and finished that earlier.

Another development has come up, however.  A few days ago I did a search specifically for low residency MFA programs closer to home.  This search stemmed from the logistical reality that paying upwards of $500 per plane ticket for five residencies is going to be difficult.  Even if I am awarded financial aide above and beyond the loans that I will taking out, the extra $2,500 is not a very pleasant prospect.  However, despite the logistical reasons behind my search, I found a very interesting program that has more going for it than location and cost.  I received a phone call today and spoke to the director of the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington for nearly an hour and a half.  This is the most time any program director (and I've contacted and been contacted by quite a few throughout my search) has spent this much time with me on the phone truly getting to know me.  I was more nervous than I ought to have been which is a clue that the program means something to me.  It is a selective, high-end program that appeals to me in many ways.  At first, I felt bad looking into the school (i.e. sending an inquiry to the program director) because I had already made up my mind to apply to two programs on the East Coast and my family and girlfriend are positively exasperated with my indecisiveness in choosing a program through which to get my MFA.  However, it's just as Hannah's father said; 'If you're going to put money into getting a useless degree, make sure it's the useless degree that you want.'  I counter by saying that an arts degree is only useless financially; for the soul it is the most nourishing of any course of study.  But it was good advice for in the end this is completely my decision and it would be an injustice to myself to settle for something less than the perfect fit - or a fit as close to perfect as possible.  And as my own father says, 'chose the one that will benefit you the most.'  There are perks to all three institutions and it looks like I will be applying to all three.  In the event that all three accept me (my ego says, 'of course they will' and my common sense says, 'not likely') I will make a secondary list of pros and cons and decide which is truly the best fit for me as a writer.

Solstice MFA @ PMC will cost approximately $27,455 including residencies and an extra $2,500 for airfare bringing the subtotal to an approximation of $29,955.  This program is a two year program (five residencies) and offers scholarships as well as auditing of classes during residencies.  It also has a great deal of opportunities for post grads.  If accepted I may be able to start in January but that is not guaranteed.  Cross genre study.  Does not offer screenplay writing.

Queens will cost approximately $26,380 plus any extra fees for residencies and an extra $2,500 for air fare bringing the subtotal up to approximately $28,880.  This program is a two year (five residencies) and offers scholarships.  It does not offer auditing but allows for guests to attend readings during residencies.  If accepted I will be able to start in January most likely.  Double genre focus.  Offers screenplay writing.

RWW MFA @ PLU will cost $31,720 for the entire program including four residencies with an additional $400 for travel via Optimus Prime (my loyal Kia), bringing the total to $32,120.  This is a three year program with four residencies.  It offers scholarships, fellowships, and need based financial aide.  I do not know about auditing but I will be asking.  No set genre - fluid genre program.  Does not offer screenplay writing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood

I recently came across a neat little book.  The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing by Monica Wood is everything that the title advertises.  In addition to having a variety of creative writing prompts, style suggestions, helpful quotes, relevant anecdotes and words of encouragement, it has a fun format that makes it accessible to someone as scatter brained as myself.  I will be sharing many of the writing exercises contained within the book through the Detangled Writers blog, but there was something I read tonight that I wanted to share here.
Don't write to hurt. Understand that a line exists between your story and somebody else' privacy. This line is zigzaggy at best, and it takes a clear eye to follow its path. Writers have the right to write. We know this. But there's a difference between writing to purge and writing to illuminate.
I have known a couple of people who wrote for revenge; as far as I can tell, publication didn't make them feel any better. Of course the worst part is that vengeful writing usually isn't good; that's what personal journals are for, to college that bad, small, narrow-eyed writing and keep it private.  
If you are embarking on a piece of writing you believe you'll have to shield from certain readers - a family member, a former friend, an erstwhile lover - think it through before beginning. My advice is to wait six months. There are so many other things to write!  If in six months the story is still lodged within your gut, that's probably a sign that the story needs writing. But be careful.
Wood, Monica. The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2002
This got me to thinking mainly about Facebook and how it has become nothing more than a battleground of volatile mud slinging all under the guise of innocent social networking.  I don't like propaganda on Facebook.  I don't like the attacks on political beliefs, slams on sexual or gender orientations, and I loathe the volumes of religious and atheistic condemnations.  I don't like hate speech of any kind and I especially despise it on Facebook.  But it's not so much a personal preference as a deep founded belief that it does not belong there.  Put such content in private blogs and in personal journals, or talk to like minded people over the phone.  But please, do not write to hurt.  Even a simple status message.  And pressing 'share' is the same as writing it yourself.  It's tiresome and, just as Monica Wood stated, it's not good writing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Robert E. Howard and Other Authors

I recently finished reading the graphic novelization of Robert E. Howard's, Conan: The Frost Giant's Daughter.  It was a great read with exciting art.  What I enjoy most about Conan, be it short stories, graphic novels, or even movies, is that this Barbarian is the amalgamation of Robert E. Howard's interaction with the world around him.  In the small afterword of the graphic novel, it is written that he took from all the real life people he had met growing up in Texas during an oil boom and put the most dominant of all of those characteristic into what would become his most famous of all characters.  There is something very real about this character.  He is raw, he is rough, he is horny, he is loyal, he is noble, and despite the fact that he never really cries, he wears his heart on his sleeve.  He is not one for deceit or for trickery.  He delights in honest, real battle and he takes pleasure when he can find it.  For anyone who is not familiar with this character, I would suggest going straight to the source first and foremost.  A great many of Robert E. Howard's stories are available for free through various public domain sites and it is through one such site that I first became acquainted with the author behind Conan.  

There is much I have yet to read, and many characters that I have yet to get to know, but of the Howard creations I've encountered, my favorite is, by far, King Kull.  The movie, Kull the Conqueror, staring Kevin Sorbo was a huge disappointment and I long for a better, more accurate, motion picture representation of my wonderful Kull, the exile turned King.  Alas, this will probably never happen since Kull and Conan are very similar - both have dark hair, bulging muscles, brooding faces, and fight as beserkers - and the world has already claimed one as their favorite.  They chose well, as I too love Conan, but it's a pity that there can't be two brave, brawny barbarians ruling the silver screen.  They have, however, recently started releasing new graphic novels of Kull and my girlfriend has been ever so diligent in acquiring these for me.  

Along with Robert E. Howard, I have been very swept away by H.P. Lovecraft and during explorations of both of these amazing and influential authors (one being the father of sword-and-sorcery and the other the father of modern horror) I have come across a variety of names that merit further investigation.  Clark Ashton Smith and his horror/fantasy comrades, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, were known as the 'three musketeers' of Weird Tales, a magazine that frequently published their materials.  Other authors of the time who delved into similar subject matter were Frank Belknap LongAugust Derleth, and Robert Bloch.  Of the three just mentioned, I have actually read some of Robert Bloch: This Crowded Earth, an obscure look at the future of an overpopulated world and the means and measures people take to adapt for survival.  However, Robert Bloch authored much more popular pieces, one of those being Psycho.  I have seen the film, loved it, and would very much love to get my hands on the original book as I am finding that it is best to stick to the horse's mouth when it comes to horror stories.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Application Checklists

Application Form PDF
In order to be considered for admission to the MFA program in creative writing, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
  1. Hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university or have equivalent experience practicing creative writing as that experience is reflected in the quality of the prospective student's application portfolio.
  2. Submit a completed graduate application form
  3. Submit official transcripts from the college or university from which their highest degree was awarded. If the candidate does not hold a bachelor's degree, a high school transcript must be submitted. Transcripts must be received in a sealed envelope. They may be sent separately, or along with the other application materials.
  4. Submit one copy of a portfolio of creative writing in each genre for which you are applying, consisting of approximately 25 pages of fiction, creative nonfiction, or writing for stage and screen, or 10 pages of poetry.
  5. Submit one copy of a one-page, typed, single-spaced essay on the prospective student's reasons for applying to the MFA program and expectations for the program.
  6. Provide one letter of academic or professional reference that speaks to the applicant's ability as a writer or potential as student. Letters of recommendation may either be sent separately or along with the other application materials.
  7. Submit a $45 application fee for each genre in which you are applying.
Application deadlines: Applications must be postmarked by March 15 for the Summer/Fall term which begins in May, or by October 15 for the Spring term, which begins in January.

Application Form PDF

In order for your application to be considered:
  • The manuscript, essay, and application form must be submitted in triplicate.
  • Your manuscript must represent work in the genre in which you plan to concentrate: 25 typed pages of fiction.
  • Pages must be numbered, and your name should appear on each poem, story, or chapter.
  • Your manuscript must be typewritten, in a 12-point font. Fiction and creative nonfiction must be double-spaced. 
  • The personal essay should state: highlights of what you’ve been reading during the last two years, and what you have learned from any literary influences (new or old) and how you have applied what you’ve learned to your own work; what you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of your own work; experience with critical evaluation of your work; what you hope to gain from an MFA program; and possible obstacles to carrying a 25-hour-a-week workload. The essay must not run over the limit of five typed, double-spaced pages.

      You must arrange for the MFA Office to receive:

      • *Three letters of recommendation sent directly (not enclosed with your application) to our offices: Meg Kearney, Solstice MFA Director, Pine Manor College, 400 Heath Street, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467.
      • Official college transcript(s) from any school(s) where you received a degree or transfer credits.
      Please ensure that ALL materials are clearly labeled Solstice MFA Office to ensure proper on-campus delivery.   Deadline is October 15.

      Tuesday, September 11, 2012

      Goldberg Writing Exercise - I (Don't) Remember

      This is a writing prompt by Natalie Goldberg, author of Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life.  My response to this prompt is a free write based on the phrases 'I remember' and 'I don't remember.'  The writing time for each segment was 10 minutes with a break in between and is not intended as memoir or as story.  For more prompts like these and more information on writing in general please visit the Detangled Writers Blog.


      I remember thinking that I would really like to kiss her and I felt some regret because I never did.  I remember that it was hot that summer and a little Chinese girl wanted to use me as a mattress and a pillow and I loved her dearly for it but found myself constantly trying to scoot away from her furnace like body so that I could catch a hint of the ever elusive Belgian breeze and maybe get some sleep.  I remember the lace capital of the world and I remember things that never even happened.  We climbed to the top of the cathedrals and sang out existence to the world and I recall that we did it all while drunk on Sangria.

      I remember being there in the sixteen hundreds, my blood and sweat coating the rock before me as I scraped my fingernails back and tried to lift it just like my father had done, just like my son would do.  I remember looking at the mess that the architect told us would someday be a house of God and I thought to myself that he was mad.  I was godless, but employed and I was building a sanctuary to someone I didn't know.  My father had died when a pulley snapped and a net enclosed load of bricks plummeted down and crushed his skull.  I remember how it tasted - I was standing so close that his brains and flesh and blood spattered this way and that and covered my young face and filled my young mouth.  I'd never even tasted wine.  I remember that I didn't cry because it was raining and it's impossible to cry in the rain.

      I remember that the Chinese girl sat the right of me, her legs on my lap and her head pressed to my shoulder, and the Japanese woman sat to my left, her hip and leg pressed firm to mine and I smiled happily and cried out to the rest of the van that I was happily squished in Asia.  I remember standing there at the end of the war, looking up at the large cathedral and crying.  I cried so hard that the rain was like a pittance compared to my tears that welled and flooded my eyes, my face, my shirt, the whole world.  I remember hearing the screaming of the women and children who had run to this place seeking sanctuary and who had found nothing but a tomb; theirs.  I remember thinking that 624 years was a long time, but ten minutes was even longer because in that horrible moment when the side fell in and the roof crumbled and crushed those who had worshiped under it a thousand times before, it all moved in slow motion.  Taking eons to fall as I stood there watching and crying, my own life pouring out of me from where a bayonet had met my belly.  I saw my beautiful church become a murderer.

      I don't remember anything after it happened.  Some people get drunk and do stupid shit and use the excuse that they don't remember as a way to justify their idiocy but for me it's the opposite.  I don't remember the morning after, I don't remember waking up next to him, don't remember his name, but there are parts I know, rather than remember.  I know what he tastes like and what hour he was born.  I don't remember how I know it, but I do.

      I don't remember when it happened, but something changed.  I don't remember why you left me when you did but I'm glad that you never came back.  I don't remember how painful it is to have a crush on someone for nearly three years and finally tell them you love them only to have them spit on your face and tell you that they don't swing that way.  I don't remember anything like that.  I don't remember the time I nearly drowned.  My parents told me about it, about how Dodi rushed into the little forging river (I don't remember, it may have been a stream) and dragged me from the frothy water to the safety of shore (I don't remember she may have just nipped at me until I got out of the water).  I don't remember getting my wisdom teeth out and I don't remember the second Harry Potter book at all, just that there was a snake and there were spiders.  I don't remember chutes and ladders - not even once.  I don't remember everyone who was at that Halloween party with the black candles and the Children of the Corn, but I have a very vivid memory of 'Amanda is bad' leaping out of the Ouija board and making everyone look at me as if I were some kind of murderer.

      I don't remember space travel.  I wish I did.  It's been years and years since my arrival on this planet and sometimes I don't even remember my real name and my real form.  I see a girl in the mirror, sometimes a boy, and I make words with my mouth but I don't remember the old words and the old ways and the smell of my people when they gathered in the divine hall.  I don't remember that anymore.  I thought I could close my eyes and see the skin - I don't remember the color - and that I could hear their voices - I don't remember how it sounded - and I thought that I could bring it all back one of these days but that was another life in another time and it is not me anymore.

      I don't remember the point.  Half of it is real; half of it is unreal and I'm caught between hating and loving and feeling hopeless and feeling outlandishly confident.  I don't remember if I took my medicine.  I don't remember if I said 'I love you' to the people who needed to hear it last night.  I don't remember to brush my teeth as often as I should and I feel bad because I just had them cleaned not long ago and sometimes when I eat sugar, the teeth hurt.  I don't remember the last time I felt really and truly useful and productive.  I don't remember the last time she smiled and meant it.

      Amanda LaFantasie © September 2012

      Sunday, September 9, 2012

      Queens and Pines it is!

      Further consideration has been paid to my top two (which is actually three).  Pine Manor College will be about $13,000 per year with all fees and what not added in.  They allow for cross-genre study but they do not offer screenplay and stage play writing as a genre.  This year, Poets & Writers rated this college  15th out of fifty (only 30 were ranked - the rest were given honorable mentions).  I have already written a very rough draft of the essay (about five pages worth) required to apply and I have three people who have agreed to write me letters of recommendation.  I am going to contact them and see about a fee waiver, but I am definitely applying for this institution.  It does require a culminating critical essay but I don't necessarily mind that.

      As for Queens, the process to apply is much simpler - I only need one letter of recommendation and a one page essay.  I am going to ask for a waiver for the application fee for this institution as well.  Hopefully one, if not both will grant me a waiver and that will help tremendously as I push forward in pursuit of the ever illusive MFA.  Also this college is ranked ranked 7th out of the fifty top low residency schools.  This is fairly attractive to me and it was only after my narrowing down that I even investigated rank.  I don't need prestige, but it's nice to know that one of my top picks was also in the top ten.  Also it does not require a culminating critical essay.  And on their website they have a great response to the 'do you require GRE for entrance?': We do not require GRE scores.  Standardized tests have nothing to do with creative writing. Damn right!

      The other college that I had looked at - and still really like - is Naropa, ranked 18th, and it has a beautiful and orderly yet rather involved application process.  They require not one, but two multi-page essays in addition to everything else needed to apply.  They also have the highest application fee.  I have decided not to apply at this time.  I am going to apply to Queens and PMC and after two weeks have passed, if I am rejected by both, I will finish up the essays needed to get on board for Naropa as I will still have time to do so.  This means however that I definitely need to get my ass in gear.  Hopefully one will accept me, maybe even both, but then I'll be faced with the decision of choosing yet again!  Oh well, if I'm accepted then maybe I can see what sort of financial aide I would be receiving on top of my admission and that might help seal the deal.  

      The thing I have to take into account now is the cost of travel and the mode of travel.  Just in general, I think bus fare is the cheapest but the prospect of going across America from the tip-top of Idaho all to the way to Massachusetts or North Carolina via bus is not a pleasant one.  I would prefer to fly, and therefore, time is of the essence because if I'm going to try and fly I need to get tickets ASAP.  Still, it's actually really exciting to even think about things like travel.  It means it's really happening.

      Wednesday, September 5, 2012

      Top Two and Getting Down to Business

      Converse College offers no real financial aide to grad students in the MFA program.  They have the cheapest tuition hands down and they do lend financial aide to students going to large conferences in order to meet authors and agents, etc.  They require only two letters of recommendation and they ask for a personal statement of up to two pages and have a specific prompt for this statement.  I did speak to a woman at the college today.  Things I like about this college are that they are inexpensive.  On the whole I believe that this one is definitely off the list.

      Queens University does not seem (as per what I can find on the website) to offer any financial assistance beyond the FAFSA.  I still need to talk to the college because they apparently offer fellowships.  They have inexpensive tuition.  They require a one page personal statement essay and they only require one letter of recommendation.  I was unable to get in touch with the appropriate parties today.  I know that this is a two year program but I do not know the credit total for the degree.  Things I like about this program are the 'one book/one editor/one semester' deal, and the Paradoxical Truth About Writing.

      Naropa does offer scholarships.  They require two letters of recommendation and a three to five page personal essay and a two to four page creative writing essay.  Both of these essays have prompts.  This college is located in Boulder, Colorado which I am rather familiar with.  The college itself is geared toward artistic and activist type personalities.  This program spans three years with residencies lasting a month each summer and the total of credits is 49.  I have requested supplemental information from Naropa as of today.  Things I like about this programs are the fact that it's in Colorado, the name of the Summer Writer's Program (Jack Kerouac School for Disembodied Poets), and the fact that they have so many scholarships for the SWP.

      Pine Manor College does offer scholarships and fellowships.  The personal essay (based on a specific prompt) can be up to, but should not exceed, five pages.  They also require three letters of recommendation.  This program spans two years and 60 credits.  Things I like about this college are: they are five miles from downtown Boston, they allow for cross-genre study in the second year, and they have alumni assistanceships to get experience in teaching at the seminars and workshops.  I have sent a request for more information as of today.

      I need to speak directly with all reps from all of these colleges but since I am leaning toward Naropa and PMC, my goals for Friday are to have written all three required essays (two for Naropa and one for PMC) and get the necessary information to three people for the letters of recommendation (three at the least).  For this week I may count the essays as part of my word count goal.  I am going to try and get out five thousand words every week while concentrating on my novel/s, however I am probably going to work primarily on grad school papers and polishing writing samples.  For both colleges the sample can be up to 25 double spaced pages.  For Naropa the sample can be cross-genre but for PMC it must be fiction.

      Tuesday, September 4, 2012

      The Top Four

      After deliberation I have narrowed down my potential colleges to four - one or two of which I will be applying for in the next week or so.  The bottom four colleges are ones that I like but the date for spring application has passed and so if it comes to it, I would have to start them in summer/fall.  I'm putting them on the back burner for now as I do have some pretty high hopes for the four that I've selected for further study.  PMC is about $6,000 per semester ($12K per year); CC is about $5,650 per semester ($11,300 per year); QU is about $6,300 per semester ($12,600 per year); and Naropa is about $12K per year.  All of them (unless I'm wrong) offer some sort of scholarships/fellowships/grad grants or some kind of financial assistance.  I get a really good feeling from all of them, hence my indecision.

      PINE MANOR COLLEGE: (Oct 15)


      VERMONT COLLEGE of FINE ARTS (Aug 15; Feb 15)
      LESLEY UNIVERSITY (Sept 1; March 1)
      WARREN WILSON COLLEGE: (Sept 1; March 1)
      I am going to call the top four universities/colleges tomorrow and ask about financial assistance, cross genre studies, letters of recommendation, letters of intent, total cost (any extra fees for residencies), and what sorts of things will help my chances of being accepted.  According this month's issue of Poets & Writers: PMC does not rank in selectivity and it ranks about 13th in fellowship placement.  Converse does not rank in selectivity either but does not rank at all in fellowship placement.  Queens is a bit better in ranking for fellowships (9th) but it is also on the upper end of selectivity (7th) which is not necessarily a bad thing, but doesn't make my job any easier either.  Naropa does not rank in fellowships but it does rank in selectivity, toward the lower end (18th), however, so it is not quite as intimidating. As for application fees: PMC - $50; CC - $40; QU - $45; and Naropa - $60.  It is feasible to apply for two, but a good deal of my selection will depend on the phone calls.  I need some assurance that I have a chance at more financial help than just what FAFSA based loans promise me.

      On another note, I just learned something kind of interesting.  The first two college picks on my list (PMC and CC) are women's colleges.  The MFA programs, however, are co-ed, but the fundamental institution is for women only. I hadn't really ever thought of applying to a women's  institution but it is beginning to appeal to me.  I know that there will be males in the MFA workshops, etc, but it's kind of a charming notion to go to a women's college.  The other two colleges are co-ed but have an overwhelmingly large female student body.  It seems that no matter which one I pick, I will most likely be surrounded by a majority of like minded women during the residencies.

      I've also decided to check out University of Alaska at Anchorage because I keep seeing it popping up as a great program and all but the website is kaput.  I figure it couldn't hurt to give them a call and just see if they still even have an MFA program and what sort of perimeters it has.

      Saturday, September 1, 2012

      Android Sleep

      Little pulses travel along a hidden wire, 
      Like nerves but less organic, like feelings but less chemical.
      He's electrical.  And he's broken.
      Another little blip on the screen. 
      He's hooked up to the monitor right now and I watch the peaks -
      The green on black of a line graph with no purpose.
      The blip is gone before the human eye can register its importance.
      Looks like he's dead or sleeping with his eyes open.
      So much of him missing and yet he looks whole enough 
      To take a breath at any moment
      Or blink, or truly die,
      But the schematics show no movement, no death.
      And there was never life.

      His synthetic body, his humanoid appearance is cracking and splintering
      And there's oil, like blood, dripping and drying and staining and 
      Making his metallic skull glisten under the snow static of off-line surveillance cameras.
      Another blip. 
      There's no movement, no processing, no computation, but something's happening.
      It's not oil, is it?  That bit of liquid near his eye, that bit rolling down his cheek?
      It wasn't there a moment ago.
      Blip.  And then silence.  
      Is he dreaming?
      Amanda LaFantasie © September 2012