PLU Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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master of fine arts in


About the program What are your goals as a student and maker of literature, as an artist contributing to the conversation about the urgent matters of our time? What is the work you want to do, the work that is specific to your experience, talent and imagination? Now celebrating more than a decade of accomplishment, the Rainier Writing Workshop has been helping writers answer those questions — and generate new, even deeper questions about writers’ aspirations. PLU’s MFA is an innovative three-year, fourresidency program in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Mentorships with our faculty last a full year, ensuring a high-quality experience at a more leisurely pace — ideal for busy professionals and those who wish to take time to develop their work’s fullest potential. Combining rigor and support, each mentorship year is tailored to the participant’s goals. Our faculty members are nationally known writers who are also outstanding teachers. The Rainier Writing Workshop is a community of talented, mature and independent writers working in an atmosphere in which each writer’s work deepens and flourishes. Our goal is to help our participants build on their technical resources as writers, help them define their literary ambitions and goals, and help them create a sustainable writing life.

“The outside experience component and the mentorship support are especially appealing. I really like the fact that the program is tailored to each individual’s goals and interests.” Brandon Lewis ’18

Innovation. Challenge. Community. Mentorship Each participant will receive individualized, strategic guidance from his or her mentors in the context of the participant’s goals and projects. During each mentorship year, the participant works one-on-one with a faculty member in a collaborative relationship that brings together the participant’s independence and the mentor’s expertise.

Faculty Our stellar faculty includes Rick Barot, Suzanne Berne, Linda Bierds, David Biespiel, Barrie Jean Borich, David Allan Cates, Kevin Clark, Geffrey Davis, Oliver de la Paz, Greg Glazner, Rigoberto González, Jenny Johnson, Rebecca McClanahan, Kent Meyers, Brenda Miller, Marie Mutsuki Mockett, Scott Nadelson, Ann Pancake, Lia Purpura, Marjorie Sandor, Peggy Shumaker and Sherry Simpson. Each year we invite a prominent writer to be the Judith Kitchen Visiting Writer at our annual residency. Our visitors have included Bernard Cooper, Tracy Daugherty, Camille Dungy and Paisley Rekdal. During each residency we also feature an exciting roster of guest faculty, editors and publishing professionals.

“Here are all these people dedicated to the same work I love so much. Here is a wealth of writing and ideas to share and discuss and explore together. I had an outstanding mentor who supported me and provided insight and questions as I examined poetry I’d always loved as a reader, but now through the lens of craft.” Lena Tuffaha ’17


Each August, the faculty and participants of the Rainier Writing Workshop gather on the beautiful PLU campus for the intensive summer residency. The residency consists of lectures, workshops, classes, readings and other immersive activities. Each day is full, with activities from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. The morning workshops are facilitated by core and guest faculty; the workshops are mandatory for all participants. During the first half of the residency, each participant takes part in a workshop composed of writers in his or her primary genre; in the second half, the participant takes part in mixed-genre workshops.

“I entered the program as a fiction writer with no intention to explore other genres. Through the mixed-genre workshops and interaction with other writers, I developed an interest in creative nonfiction, specifically the personal essay.� Bernard Grant ’15

Three-year trajectory The degree is awarded after completion of the following: four residencies, three years of mentorship, a successful “outside experience,” a critical paper of 20-40 pages, and a creative thesis that is 30-60 pages in length for poetry and 60-120 pages for prose. A participant earns 44 credit hours at the completion of the degree.

Year one Gather with program faculty and participants on the PLU campus in early August for the 10day residency, during which you’ll be paired with a faculty mentor. Submit eight mailings to your mentor during the year, with a strong emphasis on critical reading and writing.

Year two Attend the August residency on the residency campus, where you will be assigned your next mentor. Submit five mailings to your mentor during the year. In most cases, your Outside Experience will be completed during the second year.

Year three Prior to attending the August residency, you will be assigned your thesis-year mentor. During the mentorship year, submit six mailings to your mentor. The Critical Paper and the Creative Thesis will be the big tasks of the year. At the end of the year, you will attend your final August residency, where you will offer a class presentation, present a graduate reading and participate in the graduation ceremony.

“It’s rare in life that we can develop deep friendships based on shared experience, and I have the feeling I will know some, if not all, of these people for the rest of my writing years.” ­Jessica Barksdale Inclan ’15


Our alumni have published dozens of books and received numerous honors, including the Rona Jaffe Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Washington State Book Award, the Minnesota State Book Award and the Lambda Book Award. The poems, stories, and essays of our alumni also consistently appear in the best literary journals and anthologies.

“For me, writing often feels like knocking with words against the ineffable. The generous encouragement of the RWW community helped me to find joy and freedom in this situation.” ­Justin Wadland ’11

“I learned something about persistence and taking chances. RWW taught me I can work through dry spells and push into something new because that’s what I had to do. I’ll always be grateful for that.” ­Kathleen Flenniken ’07

Admission requirements The Rainier Writing Workshop is selective. We are looking for motivated adults with established writing and reading habits who want to raise their work to a new level. We admit writers of various aesthetic dispositions, from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds, from all parts of the country. Writing that deeply inquires into the world and the self, that is thoughtfully utilizing craft, that is beautiful and complex and passionate — this is what we look for in the work of our participants.

About our location PLU’s park-like campus is nestled in a wooded neighborhood seven miles south of downtown Tacoma. We’re also right off the major Interstate 5 corridor, so the metropolitan hubs of Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia are within minutes, along with must-see attractions such as Mount Rainier National Park; Tacoma’s waterfront Point Defiance park and zoo; and hiking, biking and water activities.

Every August, it was like summer camp for adults. Like Hogwarts! In essence, the students in your cohort ARE the program and RWW did a beautiful job of assembling so many different kinds of people for me to learn from and get to know. These friends are a solid foundation in which you can build your writing community and career; I treasure them so much. ­Carrie Mesrobian ’13

O F F I C E O F G R A D U AT E A D M I S S I O N 1 2 1 8 0 P A R K AV E N U E S O U T H TA C O M A , WA 9 8 4 4 7 - 0 0 0 3

RAINIER WRITING WORKSHOP 253.535.8570 Tacoma, WA 98447-0003

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