Graduate Writing Program Character
In Sarah Lawrence’s nationally recognized Graduate Writing Program, students work in close collaboration with faculty members who are active, successful writers. The program focuses on the art and craft of writing, rather than the study of literature. Students choose to concentrate in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry, but they may take craft courses in genres outside their concentration. Students may study in this MFA program either on a full- or part-time basis.
In workshops, students practice their writing and critique each other’s work. During their course of study, they take four workshops, one per semester, usually with four different writers. This approach encourages students to explore an array of distinctive perspectives and techniques that will extend their own writing ability, whatever their preferred genre.
Workshops include a biweekly one-on-one conference between student and teacher—one of the program’s distinguishing features. These conferences provide students with close, continual mentoring and guidance. Teachers critique their students’ writing and develop a reading program selected specifically to augment or challenge each student’s work. In conferences, student and teacher chart a course of study that best allows individual students to pursue subjects and issues that interest them, to develop their own voice, to hone their techniques, and grow at their own pace.
Students also participate in small craft-of-writing seminars, in which they analyze and discuss writing, and learn to read critically as writers. In addition, they select two liberal arts elective courses that may feed their work as writers.
Combined with Sarah Lawrence’s distinguished Undergraduate Writing Program, the College offers a vibrant community of writers. Visits from guest writers who give public readings and lectures are an important component of the curriculum throughout the year. Students initiate a variety of programs, including readings, discussion groups, workshops, brown-bag lunches, and tutorials. In this supportive, creative environment, writers develop relationships that often extend throughout their creative lives.
Sarah Lawrence also takes full advantage of the College’s proximity to the New York City literary scene, with its readings, writers’ collaboratives, literary agencies, publishing houses, and bookstores — as well as its wealth of arts and culture. The city provides fertile ground for internships in which students can use their writing training in educational programs, schools, publishing houses, small presses, journal productions, magazines, and nonprofit arts agencies. Through the Community Writers Program, students may teach writing workshops, tutor, or assist a writer-in-residence in a classroom, or select a teaching placement at a variety of traditional and nontraditional settings, ranging from the Westchester Correctional Facility in Valhalla to Roosevelt High School in Yonkers and The Hebrew Home for the Aged in the Bronx. The College’s Career Development Program actively engages students in the practical side of the writer’s life, offering workshops and advice on careers and opportunities that may help students support themselves as writers.
Lumina, the graduate Sarah Lawrence College literary magazine, is dedicated to the publication of original creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, and is staffed entirely by student volunteers. Students are encouraged to submit their work for publication, or join the staff to learn the details of small magazine publishing, from editing to production.
The Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival has become a vital annual event for the entire New York literary community. This weekend-long festival in April features both daytime and evening readings by the finest poets writing today, as well as some of the East Coast’s most innovative student work. Recent readers included Catherine Barnett, Cornelius Eady, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Susan Howe, Yusef Komunyakaa, Phil Levine, Paul Muldoon, Srikanth Reddy, Richard Siken, Larissa Szporluk, and Rebecca Wolff.