Creative Writing

WHAT OUR GRADUATES ARE SAYING

"Why Purdue?  It offered everything I was looking for: generous funding, the opportunity to teach creative writing, and a supportive community where I could work closely with writers I admired.  The program gave me the freedom to make reading and writing the center of each day.  Week by week, the faculty pushed the limits of my work, helping me hone my language, explore my obsessions, and discover my true subject matter.  I felt especially lucky to be surrounded by amazing classmates, who introduced me to entirely new ways of approaching art and the writing life.  To this day they remain close friends and trusted readers." --Chris Feliciano Arnold, 2010.

"The greatest thing the MFA program at Purdue gave me was time: time to write, to read, and to think. And with challenging courses and knowledgeable, distinguished professors, there was plenty to write, read and think about. In three years I was able to complete a novel, gain valuable teaching and editing experience, and be a part of a vibrant community of writers. Purdue's MFA program nurtured both my professional and personal growth. It was a great time." --Steve Edwards, 2000.

"The program is ideal because it's a very small program in the midst of a very big school. You will get to know your fellow MFA students and other English students very well, while Purdue feels like this vast universe swirling around you. If you teach, you'll get to survey the huge range of students that are out there. Having to handle such a variety of backgrounds, skill levels, and interests really enriches your teaching, making you a lot more versatile than you'd have to be at a smaller, more homogenous school. Plus, the added possibility of getting to teach creative writing is simply irreplaceable. Not many schools let their graduate students teach creative writing, but it's by far the best way I can think of to round out your education on the subject." --Liz Thelen, 1999.

"I consider my time at Purdue an apprenticeship, the same as if I were training to be a stonemason. I was able to hone my craft under the guidance of able and generous professionals for three years, and the aid of a teaching stipend allowed me to live free from loans or financial worry during the process. I also gained a network of close friends, whose keen interest in fiction and whose sharp observations about language have made them my most trusted readers." --Jon Sealy, 2008.

"For me, the Purdue University MFA program provided all the necessary building blocks for beginning my writing career. The small, tightly knit group of writers often feels more like a family than 'a graduate program.' The professors are caring and interested, but they are also tough and demanding. You are challenged not only to do your best work, but to exceed your own highest expectations. If you are a highly motivated and serious writer, Purdue is the kind of place you want to be: a writing program that will support you as you push the limits of your own experience." --Rob Davidson, 1997.

"In April 1994, I got a call in Monkstown, Co. Dublin, from Neil Myers offering me a place and an assistantship in the Master's Creative Writing Program at Purdue. I was overjoyed and told him there was no place I'd rather go right then than Purdue. He seemed a bit taken aback. Outside my door was Dublin Bay with its yachts and cormorants. I loved Seapoint, the part of Monkstown where I lived, and I loved my job, where my prospects were good. But I wanted to live in American poetry. So I arrived in a tiny plane in West Lafayette in July, with $400 and a 7-year-old child. I knew no one and couldn't drive: I wanted to write poetry, to keep my child safe, and to survive. I did a Master's, then a PhD. Marianne (Boruch) was my mentor, and served on my dissertation committee. I have always kept in touch with her. I worked with Tom Andrews too, and am glad of all that life at Purdue. I left there with many poems, friends, another daughter, and excellent qualifications and experience for a college teaching career." --Mairéad Byrne, 1996.

"The MFA at Purdue challenged me to write honest, precise poems - poems with heart - and I made a few life-long literary friendships. Beyond workshop, the skills I learned from working with Sycamore Review are invaluable. Also, being a TA, teaching composition and creative writing, fostered my passion for education." --Rebecca Bednarz, 2004.

"My admittance to the Purdue MFA program was a gift: three years of concentrated fiction writing, teaching and mentorship. Three years of ongoing conversation and friendship with other writers, students, professors and distinguished visitors, who care deeply about what they do. I worked closely with my professors on short stories, and in the third year, on the novel that would become my thesis. The teaching assistantship prepared me to work in both the composition and creative writing classroom. I grew up in Indiana, and like so many teenagers heading to college, traveled many miles in search of my own place in the world. Ten years later, that place was Purdue: a fantastic and fitting homecoming. Purdue embraces the literary life, brings you inside, and shows you how to make it your own." --Sarah Layden, 2006

"My time as an MFA student in Purdue's Creative Writing Program has been, without a doubt, the richest and most rewarding experience in my life as a writer. If ever I find myself longing for the intimacy, mystery and slowly unfolding revelations of those years I spent reading and writing in West Lafayette, I have only to turn to one of Marianne Boruch's essays on poetry. There are a number of masterful poets in our language, but I know of none who writes and talks so passionately, so naturally, so masterfully about the craft of poetry as she does." --Dan Hefko, 1998

"I highly enjoyed and benefited from my time in Purdue's MFA program. A few things about the program set it apart from many of the the others I considered: three years versus two, which meant an entire year to work on a book-length collection, and the opportunity to teach creative writing classes. I can't express how my writing and my knowledge of literature and writing were affected during that time. I went in loving poetry and came out with a richer understanding of why and of what makes poems tick. The professors I had rocked my world with their wisdom and generosity. And the community of fellow students was something I could only truly appreciate after the fact." --Carolyn LaMontagne, 1999

 

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

ELIZABETH STUCKEY-FRENCH was a member of the first full class of masters in creative writing students at Purdue, graduating in 1989. She is the author of three books, all with Doubleday: a collection of short stories, The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa, and two novels: Mermaids on the Moon, and the Revenge of the Radioactive Lady. She is coeditor, with Janet Burroway, of Writing Fiction: A Guide to the Narrative Craft. Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Gettysburg Review, Southern Review, and The O. Henry Prize Stories 2005. Elizabeth is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Florida State University.

MAIRÉAD BYRNE earned her Masters in Poetry from Purdue in 1996, and PhD in Theory & Cultural Studies, also from Purdue, in 2001. Her poetry collections include The Best of (What's Left of) Heaven, Talk Poetry, SOS Poetry, and Nelson & The Huruburu Bird. Essays include "Avant-Garde Pronouns," published in Avant-Post; and "Some Differences Between Poetry & Standup," published by UbuWeb. Winner of the 2006 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Poetry Fellowship, Mairéad is an Associate Professor of English at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

CHIELOZONA EZE earned both his MFA in Creative Writing and his PhD in Philosophy in 2003. His short story, "Lessons in German," won the 2006 Olaudah Equiano Prize for fiction written by Africans living abroad. His first novel, The Trial of Robert Mugabe, was a finalist for the 2009 Zora Neale Hurston / Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award. Chielozona is currently an Associate Professor of African and World Literatures at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

HENRY HUGHES earned his Masters in poetry at Purdue in 1990 and was the editor, in 1989, of the very first issue of Sycamore Review. He is the author of three books of poetry: Men Holding Eggs, winner of the Oregon Book Award;Moist Meridian, chosen by Robert Pinsky as a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and, most recently, Shutter Lines. He is the editor of the anthology, The Art of Angling: Poems About Fishing, published in spring 2011 as part of Knopf’s Everyman’s Library, and regularly reviews poetry for Harvard Review. Henry is a Professor of English at Western Oregon University.

ROB DAVIDSON received his MFA in fiction from Purdue in 1997, and PhD in Literature, also from Purdue, in 2002.  He is the author of two books of short stories, Field Observations and The Farther Shore, as well as a scholarly book,The Master and the Dean: The Literary Criticism of Henry James and William Dean Howells (Missouri 2005).  Winner of an AWP Intro Award and finalist for the Arts & Letters Fiction Prize, he won the 2009 Camber Press Fiction Chapbook Contest, judged by Ron Carlson, for his novella, "Criminals." Rob is Associate Professor of English at California State University, Chico.

GRETCHEN STEELE PRATT (MFA 2007) won the 2009 Robert Dana Prize for Poetry, judged by Tony Hoagland, and Anhinga published her first book, One Island, in 2010. Her poems have been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2011 and Best New Poets 2009 and has been published in Southern Review, Boston Review, The Iowa Review, The Southwest Review, Indiana Review, Witness, AGNI, The Gettysburg Review, Witness, Post Road, Mid-American Review and on Poetry Daily. She currently teaches at Wingate University and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

FRED ARROYO (MFA 1997) is the author of two works of fiction, both with the University of Arizona Press: Western Avenue and Other Fictions, 2012, and The Region of Lost Names: A Novel (2008). A recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, Fred has published fiction, poetry, and essays innumerous literary journals and the anthologies The Colors of Nature (Milkweed 2011) and Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing (University of Arizona 2010).

ELY SHIPLEY's (MFA 2003) first book of poems, Boy with Flowers, won the 2007 Barrow Street Press book prize judged by Carl Phillips, and was published in 2008. He also won the annual Western Humanities Review poetry award judged by Edward Hirsch and The Virginia Faulkner Award from Prairie Schooner. He was a finalist for the 2007 Academy of American Poets' Levis Prize judged by Susan Howe and The North American Review's 2003 James Hearst Award judged by Li-Young Lee.

LAURA PRITCHETT received her PhD in Contemporary Literature/Creative Writing at Purdue and is the author of the novel Sky Bridge (Milkweed Editions 2005), which won the WILLA Fiction Award; and the short story collection Hell's Bottom, Colorado (Milkweed Editions 2001), which won the 2001 Milkweed National Fiction Prize and 2002 PEN USA Award for Fiction. Laura is also the editor of two books released in 2007: The Pulse of the River: Colorado Writers Speak for the Endangered Cache la Poudre and Home Land: Ranching and a West that Works.

MARTIN WALLS received his MFA in poetry in 1997 and is the author of Small Human Detail in Care of National Trust (New Issues 2000), Commonwealth (March Street Press 2005) and the Solvay Process (Tiger Bark Press 2009). Martin was awarded the prestigious 2005 Witter Bynner Fellowship in poetry. This carries a $10,000 prize and an invitation to read at the Library of Congress. Recent winners have included Naomi Shihab Nye, Carol Muske, Carl Phillips, Campbell McGrath and Heather McHugh.

AARON MICHAEL MORALES' (MFA 2003) first novel, Drowning Tucson, was chosen as a Top Five Fiction Debut of 2010 by Poets & Writers and was a Chicago Tribune Notable Book. He has a chapbook, From Here You Can Almost See the End of the Desert, and he is editor of the forthcoming anthology The American Mashup: A Popular Culture Reader (Pearson/Longman). He is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Indiana State University.

BRENT GOODMAN's (MFA 1995) second poetry collection, Far From Sudden, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. His first book, The Brother Swimming Beneath Me, was a finalist for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award and a Thom Gunn Award from the Publisher’s Triangle. Brent has also published two chapbooks: Trees are the Slowest Rivers and Wrong Horoscope.

EMILY ROSKO (BA, Creative Writing) won the 2011 Akron Poetry Prize and published her second poetry collection, Prop Rockery (U of Akron Press). She edited A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (U of Iowa Press 2011). Winner of the 2005 Iowa Poetry Prize for Raw Goods Inventory, she is an Assistant Professor of English at the College of Charleston.

MARIO CHARD (MFA 2011) was one of four national winners of the 2012 "Discovery" / Boston Review Poetry Prize (along with current Purdue MFA poet Rosalie Moffett). He was also Honorable Mention for the 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. He is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

MEHDI TAVANA OKASI (MFA 2009) spent 2011-2012 as Djerassi Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. He has published fiction and nonfiction in Iowa Review and Best New American Voices, and he won the $10,000 Career Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters.

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