Advice from the Field

Advice from the Field offers guidance and opinion for current and prospective creative writing students. If you have ideas for a topic you’d like to see addressed in this forum, please email us at

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  • September 2012 | John Poch

    MA and MFA: The Final Word

    While an MFA in creative writing is considered by most to be the terminal degree for those writers seeking academic training and the rewards thereof, many English departments and writing programs offer an MA in English (magister artium in the Latin) where creative writing can be chosen as a specialization area rather than technical communication, rhetoric/composition, literature, linguistics, or even film.

  • July 2012 | Alan Cheuse

    Hemingway's Workshop

    About a dozen years ago, it was the year Jhumpa Lahiri won, I can place it that way-I served as a judge for the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction. The award ceremony took place in Boston on a windy Sunday afternoon at the John F. Kennedy Library (where the Hemingway papers are stored), a beautiful building near the harbor that gave the appearance of a ship under full sail heading into the wind.

  • June 2012 | Joshua Weiner

    Picking the Right MFA Program

    There’s money to consider—tuition (in-state and out of); fellowships and TAships; opportunities to work as a graduate assistant, or in other capacities on campus; cost of living; geography. But the single most important factor is whether or not the respective programs under consideration have writers on staff whose work you admire, and with whom you think, based on their work, you would like to study. That’s really the whole deal. And you want to pick a program that has more than one such writer on the faculty—you’ll only be there for a year or two, or maybe three at most; faculty go on leave every now and then, and sometimes unpredictably (when they score time unexpectedly through fellowships, awards, and other such opportunities).