Master of Fine Arts in Poetry

Q. Describe your personal writing process.
A.
Most of my poetry comes from reading other poets. Their works spur ideas and images in me that I otherwise would not consider. Other times, my poems come from other media and experiences, such as music, film, or visiting museums. And sometimes, ideas come from simply walking around and observing my surroundings.

Q. How have the faculty helped you in your writing?
A.
The faculty here is exceptional. It is a privilege to work with so many world-renowned poets. But they are not only great poets, they are great teachers as well. They do not push you to be a specific type of poet and they do not force you to write like they do. Instead, they challenge you to bring out your own voice, which has been extremely helpful to me.

Q. Describe one of your favorite Drew experiences
A.
There are so many… At the start of the residencies, we have what is called a faculty colloquium. The faculty sits together at a long table and they read their favorite poems to us and share with us briefly about why these poems are their favorites, what these poems or poets have taught them. It is a really inspiring experience to see my teachers and mentors position themselves as learners, as students of poetry. It helps to set the tone for the rest of the residency.

Q. Tell me more about the residencies.
A.
In general, the residences create a sense of community that I otherwise could not have been able to create. I’ve made friendships here that I will hopefully have for many years to come. And the campus itself is very conducive to writing. The dorms are quiet and relaxing, and the grounds are beautiful. The natural setting and the historic buildings at Drew lend themselves to creative and scholarly writing.

Q. I understand that you are working on the MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation. Could you talk about that for a moment?
A.
Surely. Currently I am working on French translations. I am not fluent in French, but I have studied it on and off for six years. I work with a close friend who is fluent to ensure that my literal translations are solid before I construct literary translations. Translating French poetry lends me a new appreciation for idiomatic expressions in both French and English. In fact, I would say that translating French has made me a better poet in English, as it has helped me to appreciate the strength, sound, and history of English words and phrases.

Q. Do you have any careers outside of poetry?
A.
I used to work at a college as a program coordinator, but I recently moved to Maine and now work as a freelance writer and editor.

Q. Is it challenging to live so far away and get an MFA at Drew?
A.
Not at all. My mentor and I speak frequently through emails and packet exchanges. He challenges my writing in a very constructive manner, and his thorough notes on my poems and essays are more useful to me, I think, than what I would get in a traditional residential program. I enjoy working independently and on my own schedule, which is what makes the low residency aspect of the program work perfectly for me.

Q. What are you planning to do after graduation?
A.
I plan on continuing my freelance writing career while also writing, translating, and hopefully publishing poetry and poetry criticism. I would also love to teach poetry in a similarly structured MFA program; that would be a dream. I am already a certified teacher, but having a terminal degree in poetry will help me attain a position at the college level.