Alternative Energy (Usage)

I woke up the other morning with a Joycean epiphany.

The funny part is that I don't remember actually getting the idea to do this. It's as if it was already in my head, like I'd had it a long time ago and suddenly, there it was. It was like remembering a Seinfeld quote: I hadn't forgotten it, I just hadn't used it recently.

As some of you may know, when you get rejected from things (i.e. things don't end up going the way you want) everybody has a suggestion or some advice they think you ought to know. Most of it is hard to hear: "You should consider the circus," or "Have you ever considered becoming a minority woman?"

However, the reason the next idea was already in my head is because I'd heard it a few times. And each time, I pass it by, trailing off like Chief Wiggum when asked if the dogs are going to simply find Milhouse, or devour him. "You just kind of trailed off there," the Van Houtens say.

"Yeah, I kinda did there, didn't....." as he trails off again.

The idea? A Low Residency MFA program. Chris Merrill suggested it at Matt Hart's reading at Prairie Lights back in March, and I sort of ignored it, thinking I'd never be able to get away from work to do anything, let alone pieces of an MFA program.

However, there are several advantages for me: I can keep my job and actually afford to go through a program, especially if I'm not living off a program's funding.

I'm already having to be sort of "self-motivated" with writing as there is, essentially, no reason to do it other than wanting to do it. This could continue that trend while turning it into a degree.

Warren Wilson seems to have a decent program. Not only are they heavy into criticism, but they also have 10 day residencies, which could work out great for me.

Anyone who reads this have an opinion on low res programs? This is something I just started really thinking about, so any ideas are very welcome.


François Luong said...

I think Tony (Hoagland) still teaches at Warren Wilson, as do Mary Ruefle and Dean Young.

I really don't think much of low-res programs. The idea seems a bit odd. I wonder what type of relationships you would form with your classmates in such programs.

Anonymous said...

My dear francois, you seem to me to be wholly unqualified to venture forth such a negative opinion since you've never, by your own admission, had the priviledge or the pain of having attended one. A far more useful comment or opinion or response will, I hope, come from a real, live "been there, done that" graduate of a low-res program. And while I am not that resondant, I have a very good friend who can't say enough good things about the program she attended. Still, I hope folks who have first hand experience will weigh in.

Peace and Love,

Amish Trivedi said...


But seriously, I've actually emailed people as well. Matt Hart, who attended Warren Wilson, gave the program and the concept an amazing thumbs up.

Another person suggested it might be cost prohibitive, as they offer little funding since they assume you're not going to a traditional program as a result of a job that's worth keeping.

Rosalind: if you're not that person, why aren't you that person? I asked for opinions, not research-based answers. If you think they're bad, why? If you think they're good, I want to know that too. It's an opinion for a reason.

However, I do hope folks weigh in, though that would be assuming people are reading all this...

François Luong said...

I just love that "Rosalind" starts her argument stating that I am "wholly unqualified." For the record, I have friends who are also in or who have attended low-res programs, which they are all praising. But my idea of being a poet includes social functions, namely a mentor-student relationship (e.g., André Breton and Paul Valéry) and one between peers. I have difficulties visualizing how such relationships could possibly form when you scarcely see your classmates and teachers. Granted, there is the internet, but I am highly skeptical about the "connectedness" such means provide.

Secondly, my skepticism toward low-res programs also stems from their teachers. With a few exceptions, most of them lean more toward an SoQ tradition than the one Amish is aiming for.

Of course, it could be possible that Amish thrives in such an environment. After all, my aesthetics didn't really change despite having studied under Tony.

Amish Trivedi said...


Your concerns are legitimate. You've given me what I asked for: your OPINION.

Am I qualified to make life decisions? No, but that doesn't stop me.

John Sakkis said...

naropa's low res program is a good one...some of the teachers: lisa jarnot, junior burke, kristen prevellet etc...the only thing is that you're required to spend 8 weeks, spread out over two summer's on campus in boulder for the summer writing program...everyone i know who did the low res program at naropa loved it...junior burke, who is the chair of the writing and poetics department at naropa also runs the low res program...