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Letter from the Director

This January, The University of Tampa MFA Program in Creative Writing will recognize the 21 members of our first graduating class in a hooding ceremony to celebrate their completion of the Master of Fine Arts degree.

Now in its third academic year, our program consists of more than 80 apprentice writers working in (and across) every major genre. Their experience within The University of Tampa’s creative community is every bit as diverse as the city that hosts them; our teaching faculty is international, multicultural and multilingual, featuring writers from the United States, Canada, Croatia, Russia and the United Kingdom.

We’ve created a program that combines two large ideas: that writing is at its heart a recursive and frequently collaborative endeavor, reflected in the community built within a small workshop, and that each student should have an ongoing relationship with an individual mentor.

Fitzgerald advised his daughter to try to absorb six good writers a year; Eudora Welty once wrote that writing might come from a superior devotion to reading. We agree. Each term, students join with acclaimed teachers of writing to construct a personalized program that combines creative work with intense reading. Our classes are small, typically capped at no more than five students per faculty member. The 10-day residencies feature visiting writers, editors, agents, screenwriters, songwriters, even the occasional visual artist; each visitor gives a guest lecture or seminar on some aspect of the writer’s craft. Those seminars are followed by a public reading or performance, called the Lectores public reading series, which takes its name from the readers in early 19th-century cigar factories.

Our next residency, beginning Jan. 3, 2014, will include visits from acclaimed poets Mary Biddinger, Erika Meitner and Beth Ann Fennelly; novelists and singer-songwriters Wesley Stace and Joe Pernice; and  New York Times  bestselling author Tom Franklin, winner of the  Los Angeles Times  Book Award for his most recent novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer Robert Olen Butler will read from his work and lead a master class where he will discuss his innovative approach to literary imagination. Another master class will feature acclaimed filmmaker Hal Hartley; we'll screen his most recent short film. Meanwhile, a full schedule of events is available on our website.

Previous guests have included Michael Connelly, Arthur Flowers, Nick Flynn, Keith Gessen, Amy Hill Hearth, National Book Award winner Denis Johnson, writer/actor/director Miranda July, Francine Prose, George Saunders, Rebecca Wolff and many others.

Our young program gives preference to no “school” or singular aesthetic; the approaches our writers take in their work are as individual as the people themselves, all of whom are joined together by their shared desire to write.

You can see a few highlights from our previous residencies in the videos section of our website, complete with clips from readings by a few of our guest writers.

For those of you interested, we’re currently reading applications on a rolling basis for the Nov. 1 deadline. This website gives an overview of the two-year program, as well as our policies and procedures. To learn more about the program, check out our active UTMFACW Facebook group. You can also request more information or apply now.  

And please feel free to drop me a line at the email below. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.

Kind regards,

Steve Kistulentz
Director, MFA in Creative Writing