Here at WRU

The web is an odd thing, especially for those of us old enough to remember when people didn't have computers at home. A "personal computer" was something big that stayed on your desk in the office. Anyway, my friend D in Minnesota alerted me today to the presence of an MFA blog that mentioned our creative writing program at WRU. A person we had just decided to admit was asking whether our program was selective, what the students were like, and whether he should go ahead and write his check. I feel like I'm listening to a party line.

One interesting discussion on the MFA blog was about aesthetic diversity in various programs. I would say that most of the people in prose in our program write traditionally, but we don't encourage it. I would love to have more people write experimentally. But I think a small slice takes such stylistic risks because: 1)when you're starting out, you tend to start out tentatively, writing what you've read, and 2) if everyone wrote experimentally, then the experimental would become the traditional, so by its very nature, experimental writing is practiced by a minority.

We aesthetes value the experimental, though those of us who practice it find ourselves whining (see Sunday's post) about being marginalized. As L tells me, echoing what I tell myself: Don't write non-mainstream work and then complain that your work is not published by mainstream publishers.

That is what the university is for: to value the non-commercial. The university and the "art world" value what's new and different and risky, and not mainstream. You can look in women's magazines for the commercial, bland story. Yet thousands or millions will read cookie-cutter, sentimental stories and be touched. Are these readers' experiences not valid? Do they not bleed? They bleed, but their blood is not so interesting.

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