March 23, 2009



First, ya'll are some idealistic motherfuckers. Teaching in prisons, good lawd. I've had way too many students not like me during my time in the classroom, and these people would have no problem stabbing me in lieu of a bad eval. And that was always one promise I made to myself. If I were ever threatened by a student, fuck it, I was done with teaching. I am considering trying for this prison teaching job, though it's not creative writing, more like literacy and such, and I'm qualified to do it (welcome back, elementary education degree), and I have my moments of idealism, too, friends...but it's only part-time. That's the biggest catch here. Maybe I could try to swing two part-time jobs instead of one full-time...I gotta think on this.

Speaking of thinking, I've kicked around the idea of trying for a PhD in creative writing. Somedays it sounds great, other days when I start thinking about language requirements, oral defenses, and doing research, oh, no no no. I go back and forth on it all the time, hell I just went from "yeah, I'll do this" to "well..." about an hour ago.

My question is, you out there chasing the PhD in creative writing, how did you find the programs that interested you?

I tried this website called, but it really leaves a lot to be desired. I mean, the program in Chicago that waitlisted Ande wasn't even listed on this site, so something's wrong with the site, and Southern Mississippi isn't listed on their either, and I know they have a PhD in creative writing as well. Let me tell you, the UNLV program sounds pretty nice, if they allowed more than one person in at a time.

viva el mustache


Jorge said...

I think because PhDs in creative writing are relatively new, maybe just hasn't caught up with the trend.

Personally, I wouldn't do a PhD. I would fail out so freaking fast I would see my own ass flying past me through the door. I don't even think I'm qualified for an MFA, though through clever trickery and slight of hand, I've convinced most people I am.

But that's just me.

Bronson said...

I've kicked around the PhD option as well. I like the program in Houston. If I remember correct, Mark Doty and Nick Flynn are on staff (By the way, you should read "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City." Excellent stuff!). But, I have the same hang ups as you. But if I got this Chinese language thing down (read: no way in hell!), I'd be halfway there!

Philly Baby said...

After adjuncting for two years now, I am desperate to get back into school--mostly to have those deadlines that actually help me pump out new material. Look for the programs that fit with what you want to study most (lit wise) as well as who teaches there (but, you already knew that).

But, I'm with Jorge. I don't know nearly as much as I pretend I do, so when I do end up in a PhD, I may be that idiot in the corner the other kids throw spitballs at.

Bryan said...

I'm with you Philly Baby, but how do you know which programs have what you want? That's my problem, I don't want to fish thru the thousands of colleges in this fair country one at a time to find it. That'll take months. Isn't there a better way to search through these things, or is that the only option?

Ande said...

I found the PhD programs on the AWP site. It lists all the PhD Creative Writing programs that are AWP members.

When I talked to people at UIC, they made sure that the first thing they told me was that it is not an MFA program, so those people who go in expecting it to be like an MFA program are always sorely disappointed. Which, I was down for because, frankly, I'm pretty ready to get the hell out of the MFA program. PhD programs (at least the ones I applied to) are much more theory- and criticism-based, and not really workshop-based. Which is what I wanted. It's not what everyone wants, though.

I think if you're looking for a different kind of education, go for it. If you're looking for MFA Part II, find a writing group and join a book club. Don't waste your time in the PhD hunt, because it's not the same thing.

In my search for programs, I did some pretty extensive research, so if you want to know what I found out, just contact me. I'll help you out.

What kills me about that waitlist letter was the last paragraph--specifically this sentence: "Under normal circumstances, this would be an acceptance letter." D'oh! It's all about timing, too, I guess.

Luke said...

If you really want to get a job teaching... word is on the street that a PHD in composition studies or Comp Rhet is the hot market. One of the interviewees I talked to this year had 12 campus interviews... god knows how many MLA interviews. If you can stomach it, that would be the most job-secure route.

From my observation of the job market, having a PHD helps you get a job... definitely gives you a step up over the MAs (MFAs too) but it doesn't assure you even interviews. I think the biggest benefit of a PhD would be the extra time it allows you to pad the resume and publish your work.

One more thing. I don't think there are a whole helluva lot of PhDs in creative writing. I think there is probably less than 20, but I could be wrong.