The stage is empty, the curtain drawn closed, scenery covered in
dust. They ask, "Whee is Dot Bug? What happened to the words that
used to grace the pages of this blog?"
There are a dozen ways I could answer that. I'll start at the
end, with this article from Ashland University. More to come
later, I promise.
Seventeen Students Complete Ashland University's MFA Summer
ASHLAND, Ohio Ashland University culminated its 10th Master of
Fine Arts in Creative Writing Summer Residency on July 28 by
recognizing 17 students who have completed their MFA degrees and
will graduate at the University's winter commencement in
December. A total of 51 students completed the summer residency
program. The 17 students included Ashland's first fiction-writing
MFA graduate, Katlyn Stechschulte, as well as students in Poetry
and Creative Nonfiction.
The 17 graduates hail from Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Michigan,
Missouri, New York and North Carolina. Nine will receive MFA
degrees in Creative Nonfiction and seven earned MFA degrees in
Poetry. Their number also included Angie Orlando of Kent, Ohio,
who is both blind and deaf and has written compellingly about her
experiences while earning her MFA.
"Angie's words exhibited humor and courage," said Dr. Dawn Weber,
dean of AU's College of Arts and Sciences, who honored the
students at last week's recognition program.
Weber noted that the ceremony included faculty thesis advisors'
reading short excerpts from each student's creative thesis.
"Family members also attend, often with a bouquet of flowers in
hand," Weber said. "The written words of our students were at
times powerful, haunting, beautiful and heart-breaking."
Ashland's two-week MFA residency brings students and faculty from
across the nation to Ashland for what has emerged as a nationally
recognized graduate program in Creative Writing.
Poets & Writers, a top creative writing magazine that rates MFA
programs across the nation, found in 2013 that AU's low-residency
program ranked second in job placement, fourth in fellowship
placement and 11th in selectivity among 47 U.S. low-residency
Ashland's Honored Visiting MFA Graduate Faculty joined students
at Ashland during the two weeks from as far away as California,
Washington State, Colorado and as near as Ohio and Ashland's own
campus. These faculty members have published more than 60
nonfiction books, novels, essay collections, poetry volumes,
chapbooks and books of short stories. Several are widely
recognized as critical writers and/or editors of distinguished
journals or university press book prize series.
An independent agency that ranks higher education degrees for
economic return on investment ranked AU's low-residency MFA as
its top value program:
"Of all the low-residency creative writing MFA's, Ashland
University's is probably the most prestigious," concluded Iris
Stone of Bestvalueschools.com. "AU has a strong reputation for
launching careers in creative writing and publishing."
As evidence, graduates of the Ashland MFA program already have
published some 20 of their own books since completing the program
and the list is growing. Recent titles of graduate publications
may be found at
With support from the Ohio Arts Council, the Ashland MFA also
annually brings to campus well-known professional writers during
the MFA residency, each of whom offers readings and workshops, as
well as visiting individual classes. This year's headliners
included Gretel Ehrlich, author of bestselling nonfiction books,
a novel, and two collections of poetry. Ehrlich is both a
Bellagio and Guggenheim Fellow and has been published in The New
York Times Magazine, Time, Harper's, The Atlantic and National
J. Allyn Rosser was the visiting poet for the residency and is
the author of four collections of poetry. She has received poetry
fellowships from Lannan, Guggenheim, the NEA and the Ohio Arts
Council. Her poems are widely published in top journals and
magazines and in four editions of Best American Poetry.
This year's fiction writing guest was Steve Almond, author of
eight books of fiction and nonfiction, including The New York
Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football: One Fan's
Reluctant Manifesto. His short stories have been featured in Best
American Short Stories and Best American Mystery Stories.
Fiction writing has now joined Creative Nonfiction and Poetry as
the third genre to be featured by the Ashland University MFA. The
initial two genres of graduate study were established 10 years
ago and grew out of the University's long hosting of the Ashland
Poetry Press and River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative.
The Ashland MFA's visiting writer program for the MFA is
supported in part by a grant from The Ohio Arts Council, which
announced this week that Ashland University's grant award for
next summer already has been approved and that it will increase
by nearly 50 percent. The grant makes it possible for members of
the Ashland community as well as Ohioans beyond Ashland to attend
the MFA readings and workshops free of charge.
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