Archive for the ‘About the MFA at UNM’ Category


Writers’ March

March 3, 2011

One of the difficult things about being in the final stages of your MFA is that your focus is the dissertation.  What that means is that you’re not on campus as much, you may not be taking any classes at all.  So there’s no in-class bonding, there’s no after-class beers, instead, it’s you and the page with the occasional meeting with your dissertation chair.  It can be lonely.  And without the deadline of workshop it can be daunting.

Sam Tetangco, celebrating success

My colleague, Sam Tetangco, who is also in dissertation hours, came up with this fantastic idea:  Writer’s March: keeping your butt in the seat one spring day at a time.

The idea is simple.  Each day in March several of us have publicly committed to a writing goal.  We’ll use the blog to support each other.

It’s kind of like NANIWRIMO, but no novel at the end (unless that is your goal), and we’re doing it in March, not November.

The cool thing is that we’ve expanded this beyond our own MFA circle.  The challengers include not only MFA candidates from UNM, but faculty, undergraduates, AND writers in other states (sure, many are our friends, but it’s so awesome to see this thing blossom outward).

If you’d like to step up to the challenge, check out Sam’s initial post, Calling All Writers …    on the blog you’ll read about avoiding evasion strategies, you’ll get writing tips and even some creative writing prompts.  But most of all you’ll be in community with a bunch of other writers who are in the same boat as you–  trying really hard to keep your butt in the chair!


Upcoming Literary Events

January 28, 2011

Thought I’d share my Google Calendar with you….  but discovered I can’t embed javascript in here.

Anyway, here’s the link:

Also, I set up a PAGE on this very site


2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 63 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 251 posts. There were 14 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was March 13th with 88 views. The most popular post that day was Sage Advice.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for dorothy parker, kurt vonnegut, unm creative writing, anne tyler, and unm creative writing blog.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Sage Advice September 2009


Some words from Kurt Vonnegut November 2009


UNM MFA Creative Non-Fiction Students April 2009
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Passages North, poetry and nonfiction competitions November 2008
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UNMs Adam Nunez blogging over at the MFA Blog

October 27, 2010

I’m sure if you’re looking into MFA programs, you’ve come across Tom Kealey’s awesome book (Creative Writing MFA Handbook) and related MFA Blog for everything (and more!) that you ever wanted to know about applying for anMFA program….

And now, you can hear first hand, from the University of New Mexico’s own first year poetry MFA candidate, Adam Nunez.

Congrats Adam!  and do feel free to cross post here anytime!


Rubbing Elbows

November 17, 2009

–posted by Jennifer

One of the perks of being in an MFA program is meeting authors.  Sometimes its just the opportunity to hear him/her read work and participate in a Question and Answer, sometimes there is a workshop involved, and sometimes it is some serious elbow rubbing.

Last night we hosted Margaret Atwood and her partner Graeme Gibson for dinner. It was an intimate party coordinated by fellow MFAer Carmela Starace–  who is a most gracious hostess.  She arranged for Jennifer James 101 (one of Albuquerque’s finest restaurants) to host the event, and serve a gourmet vegetarian dinner featuring locally grown foods.

Both Atwood and Gibson were most gracious with their time and I know for a fact they’d been up and on the road to Albuquerque since the wee early hours.  That they weren’t nodding off mid conversation is a testament to their stamina and graciousness.

I had the good luck to be seated at a table with Mr. Gibson, and we had a great conversation about Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods…  though we didn’t talk about his book The Bedside Book of Beasts, an anthology of writings and illustrations that explore the relationship between predator and prey, he did read from his book this evening, and I for one am intrigued.   I also spent a few minutes with Ms. Atwood as well, and am not only excited to read her new book The Year of the Flood, but her last non-fiction piece, Payback, about the culture of debt…  published just last year.

AND for a “review” of the Atwood/Gibson reading, check out the Blue Mesa Review Blog.


The MFA and the Business of Books

September 24, 2009

posted by Jennifer
Words on a table
I realize most of us aren’t yet ready to talk about book tours and talk shows…  and realistically speaking, most of us are not writing those best seller kind of books anyway.  We’re writing Literature.  If we’re lucky we’ll sell a few thousand copies.  If we’re really lucky we won’t end up on the Bargain Book table.  If we’re really really lucky we’ll have a job.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, but face it, most MFA students don’t leave school with a two-book deal under their arm.  Or even a one-book deal.  And that is not to say that MFA programs aren’t producing some really excellent writers.  I sit next to a lot of them in my workshops.  I often feel humbled.

The reality is that even once you get that book deal, you will still have to work.  Maybe at a “straight” job.  Maybe at selling your book….

On Web, A Most Novel Approach

With Promotion Money Tight, Authors Take to Online Sites To Toot Their Own Horns

By Neely Tucker

Poor Kelly Corrigan, first-time author, didn’t get invited to this weekend’s National Book Festival on the Mall to plug her 2008 memoir, “The Middle Place.” She won’t be rubbing shoulders with heavyweight authors such as Sue Monk Kidd, John Grisham or Pulitzer winner Junot D?az. No major newspaper bothered to review the California mom’s tale about cancer and family and recovery when it was released. Her publisher didn’t send her on tour. All the old-school staples of book promotion — the book festival, the tour, the glowing newspaper review — Corrigan got none of them…. CONTINUE READING ONLINE–>

Do you have the skills to promote your book?  Would you even know where to begin?  Is the MFA program preparing you?


Five Down: My first week and a half as a TA

September 3, 2009

by Rick Raab-Faber, CF

So here’s the sweet part of being in The Program. I’m getting paid to get a degree. The rub? I have to teach classes in freshman English. Me. The guy who, when standing up in front of the assembled 8 peers in my C&J class to read a paragraph I’d written, did not breathe the entire time and almost blacked out. The guy who nearly projectile vomits at the thought of public speaking. That guy. Yet, the powers that be in UNM’s English Dept. thought I could stand up in front of 20 or so kids who I knew would all be way hipper than me and would totally mock me for the poseur I am.

poserWorse yet, I agreed. I figured, what the hell. They know better than me, right? I mean they’re all PhDs and MFAs.

I started the first class by fessing up to my imminent apoplexy and kept on trucking. And I’ve done it for Five sessions now at eight o’clock in the morning and it’s gone well. I threw in a little writing exercise where the students had to write a paragraph describing me. They almost all used words like “Confident” and “Knowledgeable” and “Caring.” (Suckers! My evil plot is working.) Despite the ungodly — and I use that term in its most demonic sense — hour, the students are well-behaved and (mostly) alert. The two bits of advice people have given me have certainly paid off: “Remember that you know more than them” and “Always check your fly before class starts.”

That being said, I’ve really enjoyed it. Our orientation team was great and left us well-prepared. Plus I’ve got none of the slackers I’ve heard about in the afternoon classes. I could see myself doing this after graduation — in between writing my third novel and doing rewrites on the screen adaptation of my life story, of course.

The trick, it seems, is to remember we are here, as MFA students, to write. I guess I do envy the kids who don’t have to rely on a TAship to afford the program. Oh the things that I could do, I think to myself. But, like reading slush for Blue Mesa, or taking a lit class, immersing yourself in the teaching of writing opens up new ideas about the process of writing. In short, telling others how do do something makes it more concrete in my mind. And, oddly enough, I think you come away from each day’s class with this one thought, “Holy Crap! I really did learn something as an undergraduate!”

I’ll be interested in seeing how my time-management skills hold out. (As well as my enthusiasm for teaching!)