This weekend, The New York Times added another article to the ongoing MFA debate. “Why Writers Love to Hate the MFA,” tracks the dramatic rise of the MFA in Creative Writing: more applications, more students, more institutions—more fans and more detractors.
I received my MFA from the University of British Columbia in 2010. The experience was essential to making me into a writer. I was so fascinated by the change that my own work underwent while in the program, and by the idea of teaching and mentorship, that I wrote an essay called “Hungry” for The New Quarterly. And for Hazlitt, I asked five respected writers and teachers to explore the idea of literary mentorship.
But, as the Times piece explores, there are definite and ongoing difficulties with many of the programs, including a student body that is mostly white, straight and affluent. A problem that reveberates through the publishing industry, as it chooses the books it will publish and promote and as those books find their readers.