A Columbia MFA’s complaints

In the Columbia Spectator, fiction writer and University of Chicago creative writing chair Mark Slouka calls the Columbia MFA program “a self-perpetuating cycle of mediocrity.”

Allow me to elaborate. A short list of documentable facts — I’ll begin with the smaller issues and proceed to the larger ones — would include master’s theses that are routinely passed despite the fact that the level of writing exhibited in them is remedial at best and virtually illiterate at worst, tenure-track hires of close personal friends of the chair who have, quite literally, not a single publication credit to their names and who are hired over candidates with two and three books — resulting in a situation in which students often have more experience and more publications than their instructors, and an institutional culture in which those who have done nothing for 10 or 15 years hire others like themselves in order to make their own lack of accomplishment less visible and, for the same reason, discriminate against those who are active in their fields.

“A – fucking – MEN,” says Columbia grad Felicia Sullivan, a memoir writer and writing instructor who’s previously acknowledged her frustration at “what i don’t know about grammar and words.” Sullivan recently praised her editor’s careful eye while posting the editor’s comments on the first page of her forthcoming book.


is the title of the memoir. queue chariots of fire theme song, pls.

anyway, after a smashing evening with the girls last night, i came home to a fedex package – my edited book. last week, my editor and i had reviewed the book, page by page, talking story, talking problematic language, talking restructuring, gutting and fleshing. however, i didn’t pay much mind to the pencil etchings all over the pages until last night and this morning.

going through the book, i gasped with joy – AN EDITOR THAT EDITS !!! Who knew??! If one’s relationship with one’s editor is much like a marriage – then i’m smitten. i’m completely and utterly in love.

page one of the memoir, edited (this is a pdf file you’re opening). i had palpitations, however, the rest of the book doesn’t look this bad. THANK GOD.

(Thanks to Melissa for the link.)


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