My MFA Place: Fayetteville

Guest blogger Amy here, writing to weigh in on the recent ascent of Seth Abramson's impressive and long-labored MFA rankings to the P&W throne: if you hadn't heard, Seth Abramson, poet and blogger, recently had his MFA rankings (which have been up and available and thoroughly explained on his website for years) adopted by Poets & Writers, a magazine, organization, and all around powerhouse of influence and resource among writers.


This has of course resulted in some blowback, in part because (as Brian so succinctly put it in his Poetic Lives Online) those rankings were not in danger of becoming "gospel" when they were on Abramson's site, but now that they wear the P&W imprimatur, few will question them, or how they were devised. And frankly, if you think those "Top 10 Most Rockinest Hairdo's of the 80's" shows on VH-1 are subjective, you haven't tried ranking locations where groups of artists gather, some as teachers, some as students, and try to get along, financially, personally, artistically, and in every other way. And while I'd love to see Andy Dick hurl out a few one-liners about Giffel's Auditorium in Old Main (it's Arkansas - are these people expecting an audience with the Queen?), this is also a very niche interest - essentially of interest to exactly one group: writers who go to MFA programs.

I went to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, as did Brian (it's where we met), which Poets & Writers (nee Abramson) ranks at 36. I think that's too low, so I've taken the liberty of moving us up a little.



Just a few things I want to point out:

1. Apparently UArk is more selective than Iowa. Eat that beeches.
2. Apparently UArk also funds better than two of the top three. Stick that one in your pants and smoke it.
3. Not having a Non-fiction program isn't that unusual (see #s 2 and 3), but UArk does have the Programs in Translation, which, IMHO, makes the whole creative writing program worthy of a bump. I wasn't in that program, but as an MFA student I had access to classes with John DuVal, which were some of the best classes I took at Arkansas - or in my life, really, and yes that is a high bar to clear. Students who go today have access to classes with Geoff Brock, too. Hullo, awesome!
4. UArk is listed at #36, but in every measure scores higher than this: 31, 25, 24, 18, 17.... er, 45. Okay, whoops, in ONE measure UArk scores lower: the Fiction program. Gee I wonder why that could be. Gee I sure do. I mean I know I went there for fiction and everything and spent half my time taking classes in poetry and translation not to mention lit classes with the PhD faculty so that my teachers would stop making comments on my boobs and actually remember my name and stuff, but I really can't imagine why UArk is listed lower for fiction than for everything else. I wonder if that means that they should conclude that the fiction side is holding them down, and maybe self-examine and self-analyze and try to determine if the way they do things might in fact not be the best way of doing things? Maybe?

Naaah.

I've said my piece.

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