Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MFA Life

Maisha Johnson, MFA '14

I'm here in the adorable town of Forest Grove, Oregon for my MFA residency at Pacific University. It's my first residency, my first visit to Oregon. Actually, it's a lot of firsts for me, and it's every bit as exciting as I anticipated.

A few highlights of my reflections after the first few days:
The campus is lovely.

I just got back from a really great reading by Ann Hood, Dorianne Laux and Craig Lesley. I spent the first half listening with tears in my eyes, the second half laughing the tears away, and the walk back to my room thinking about how lucky I am to be studying with these insanely talented people.

Our spirit animal. The fierce Boxer.
Today I survived my first poetry workshop, and without any tears! Workshops continue over the next few days, though, so we'll see if that "no tears" thing holds. Just kidding - it's going to be fine, my workshop members and leaders are fabulous and we're all supporting each other through it.

I'm learning a lot from this guy.

I definitely feel like I made the right choice in the Poetry program. With faculty like Kwame Dawes, Dorianne Laux and Marvin Bell, how can I go wrong? My workshop leaders are Kwame and Ellen Bass, and I'm eagerly awaiting word about who my advisor will be for the semester. I'm also glad to be able to sit in on enlightening craft talks with the fiction and nonfiction faculty.

Everyone, including faculty, staff and returning students, has been wonderful about welcoming me and the other first semester students. Today I listened to two graduating students present their theses and describe their journey through the program, from the moment I'm experiencing now to this summer's final residency. It was all incredibly inspiring, and I have a whole lot to look forward to.

I'll have more soon, including reflections on what I'm learning and more photos of the beautiful campus. For now, I'm heading to bed early to rest up for another long day tomorrow. Whew!

Visit Johnson's blog at and look for future posts about her experiences as a Pacific MFA student.

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