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June 26, 2012 / Angela Sylvia

MFA Semester 4 Day 4

So, first thing first comes a complaint: Lesley, as always doing the utmost to make the MFA feel special, decided to schedule freshmen orientation at the same time as the residency. This led to horrible pop music bursting on the quad, adults that still look like babies wandering around campus… and the reception spot getting yoinked away from us. Luckily they let us break into the cafeteria to hold our reception, which is good since I had already brought free books and Jodi had all those rubber ducks…

There was only one seminar for my semester yesterday, The Malleability of Material from Laurie Foos. This seminar focused on Raymond Carver, and while I liked all of the material we read for the seminar I wasn’t sure how great and helpful it was going to be for me in particular. Turns out, it was. Carver worked in a few genres — short stories, poems, and personal essays — so it was interesting to see how his style carries over in each type of writing he did. We also talked about the good and bad of editors when we looked at “The Bath” and “A Small, Good Thing” as we looked at not only what the difference was between the stories after his editor cut it all up (“The Bath” was the cut up version — I didn’t like it, but others preferred it) and also whether or not it matters what happened with editing if the end product comes out so well. I think we concluded that it doesn’t matter, unless you the writer were opposed to the changes, which it seems Carver was (scary stuff, that).

The afternoon held the next round of large group workshops. Again, great stuff by everyone. I felt a little bad, since for some reason exhaustion took those two hours to overcome me, but my groups format of using a letter we wrote to the writer as a way to jump into our comments made it easy to reel myself back in and get into a conversation with everyone. Afterword Pat Collins, the mentor of the day, told a couple of us how great this group is and how good our comments are. That made me feel good, and really proud of the people I’m working with this residency. And really proud of myself, to know that after four semesters I’ve actually gotten this thing figured out.

After the reading, our semester was finally able to host a reception that people actually went to. It was fun: I got to hit a pinata shaped like a duck, eat a bunch of candy, and just stand and talk with a lot of wonderful people. I probably stayed up later than my early-onset-old-ladyness would normally allow, but I don’t want to risk closing my eyes and missing something memorable.

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