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Western Establishes Master of Fine Arts
in Professional Writing

The Low-Residency MFA in Professional Writing

Upcoming Event

On May 3rd, Tom Kelly, author of "Empire Rising," will read from his engaging new novel. "Empire Rising" is a fascinating account of the way New York City was run in the opening years of The Great Depression. There are Tammany Hall bosses, hard-working Irish immigrants with dangerous secrets and no shortage of famous political figures to anchor this story firmly in history and in your imagination. Copies will be available for purchase at the event - signed by the author - of course! Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served. Please join us for this special evening.

MFA graduates for many years now have learned upon graduation that there are woefully few teaching jobs available in creative writing and that they are unequipped to compete for work outside academia. In order to cultivate careers as professional writers, they frequently find it necessary to master multiple genres. But writers who have deep interest in genres other than poetry and fiction find few options for study in most MFA programs.

Furthermore, research has shown that the imaginative/emotional and rational/logical functions of the brain are interrelated and that real cultivation of intellectual prowess focuses on neither exclusively. The old model of studying writing as exclusively a "creative" or "practical" endeavor is outmoded.

Therefore, we are proud to announce the establishment of the first MFA program in writing that offers the aspiring writer training in both creative and practical writing: food for the soul and food for the table.

In August of 2005, our one-of-a-kind program will welcome its first students to a one-week residency on Western's lovely Westside campus, overlooking acres of preserved forest in the hills of Connecticut. There students will participate in workshops, attend lectures and readings, and meet one-on-one with mentors to establish a course of study that will engage them for the next six months.

Please browse the site for more information, and feel free to contact our MFA Coordinator, , if you have further questions.


Our program employs a combination of online study and one-to-one mentorships, so that our faculty and students can live anywhere and congregate on campus at Western Connecticut twice per year (August and January) for a week of study, entertainment, and planning.

Because of its nature, our program will appeal both to traditional graduate students and students who already have families and/or careers. We understand the difficulty of scheduling a course of study around existing responsibilities. Our program is designed to accommodate you by offering 2, 3, and 4 year schedules, according to personal preference and scheduling limitations.

How does it work? If you choose to take longer than two years to complete the program, you will attend the Summer 2005 residency and take a full complement of courses in the Fall of 2005. Thereafter, you will choose the most convenient semesters to complete your study. You might, for example, take off Spring 2006 to concentrate on family, career, or your own writing, then study the next three semesters. Or you might choose to study for one semester in each of four years. We will work out a plan that is best for you.

Coursework and Mentorships

Each semester that you are enrolled in the program, you will participate in one online, multi-genre workshop. You can log in to the course using your Internet browser from office, home, library, or anywhere else with an Internet connection. The goals of this workshop are to provide students with feedback from peers and from an instructor and to train students how to evaluate and discuss both the process of writing and writing products in multiple genres.

The bulk of your work, though, will be done in one-on-one mentorships in courses that you design in cooperation with your mentors and the MFA Coordinator. These courses will give you deep, customized direction in writing, reading, and researching your chosen genres.

Enrichment Projects

Our program is dedicated to introducing students to the full experience of professional life for writers. So in addition to coursework, each student will propose, design, and complete a project that enriches the individual as a writer. The project might, for a few examples, involve volunteer work for a charitable literary organization, learning a foreign language, or starting an online literary publication.


Writers in Residence

Mimi Kelly. Brings wide experience in electronic storytelling as writer/producer/director of works on film, television, and computer, and in the strategic distribution of these electronic messages. She is the director of the Emmy-award-winning documentary, Why Johnny Don't Know. Ms. Kelly's rich background also includes speechwriting, print copy for public relations and corporate use, and feature stories.

Daniel Asa Rose. Author of Hiding Places: A Father and his Sons Retrace Their Family's Escape from the Holocaust (Simon &Schuster, 2000) and Flipping for It (St. Martin's Press, 1987). Currently the book review editor for The New York Observer, he has served as arts &culture editor of the Forward newspaper, travel columnist for Esquire, humor writer for GQ, and essayist for The New York Times Magazine.

Don Snyder. Check back soon for Mr. Snyder's info.

Peter Streckfus. Author of The Cuckoo (Yale University Press, 2004) and winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize. He is former Assistant Director of Communications at San Francisco Art Institute. Mr. Streckfus currently teaches writing and literature in Texas.

Mark Sundeen. Author of The Making of Toro (Simon &Schuster, 2003) and Car Camping (HarperCollins, 2000). His work appears in Outside, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Preservation, and the New York Times Magazine. He also worked as a web writer and editor for Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

Cecilia Woloch. Author of three award-winning collections of poems, most recently Late (BOA Editions 2003), and of numerous essays, articles and reviews. She has served on the faculties of numerous writing programs and has launched community outreach programs for poets and young people across the country. She has also worked as an editor, copywriter, public relations specialist and arts administrator. She is the founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and of the Paris Poetry Workshop.

Permanent Faculty

John P. Briggs. Professor in the Department of English Language, Comparative Literature, and Writing at Western and the Professional Writing Coordinator. He is the fiction editor of Connecticut Review, and author of several notable books on chaos theory. He is one of three CSU professors named at Western.

Brian Clements. MFA Coordinator. Author of Essays Against Ruin, Flesh and Wood, and Burn Whatever Will Burn: A Book of Common Rituals (all poetry) and editor of Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics. Prof. Clements also has a rich background in technical writing and editing, marketing, and corporate communications.

Oscar De Los Santos. Associate Professor in the Department of English Language, Comparative Literature, and Writing at Western. Professor De Los Santos' most recent book is Hard Boiled Egg (Fine Tooth Press, 2004). He is Co-Director of English Graduate Studies.

Edward Hagan. Professor in the Department of English Language, Comparative Literature, and Writing at Western. His teaching covers a wide range of 19th and 20th century Irish, British, and American literature as well as all levels of writing courses. His recent work includes a 2004 edition of The Green Republic (University College Dublin Press, 2004).

Shouhua Qi. Associate Professor in the Department of English Language, Comparative Literature, and Writing at Western, Qi has published extensively both in the United States and in China. He is the author of Bridging the Pacific: Searching for Cross-Cultural Understanding between the United States and China and more than ten other books. His debut novel, When the Purple Mountain Burns (San Francisco: The Long River Press, 2005), is about the tragic events that happened during the Rape of Nanking (his hometown) in the winter of 1937-38.

James R. Scrimgeour. Professor in the Department of English Language, Comparative Literature, and Writing at Western. He has published a critical biography of Sean O'Casey, seven books of poetry, and over 200 poems in anthologies and periodicals.

Abbey Zink. Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language, Comparative Literature, and Writing at Western. A past editor of a several newspapers, Zink's freelance work has appeared in New Business Opportunities and Crain's Chicago Business. She co-authored the introduction to the reissue of Campaigns of Curiosity: The Journalistic Adventures of an American Girl in Late Victorian London (U of Wisconsin, 2003).

Writing Mentors 

Lionel Bascom. A veteran writer and journalist with 25 years as a working newsman for various mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, United Press International, and Money Magazine, to name a few. Mr. Bascom has worked in radio broadcasting, taught college-level journalism for 15 years, and published nine books of non-fiction including A Renaissance in Harlem: The Voices of a Lost American Community (HarperTrade, 2001).

Sean Brown. A poet and writer of fiction, Mr. Brown's work can be seen in such publications as Sentence, EM, Indiana Review, and First Intensity. In addition to working as Public Affairs Director for a major-market radio station on the west coast and volunteering his time for a non-profit organization for critically ill hospitalized children; Sean serves as editor of Luna, teaches college-level writing, and leads writing retreats for American veterans and their families. Mr. Brown's first book, Manufacturer's Specifications and Guidelines, is forthcoming from Blue Barnhouse Press.

John Dennis. A filmmaker and playwright with over 100 films, plays and musicals to his credit. His most recent musical, Jacob's Folly, premiered at Maine Center for the Arts in 2002. He has written stories, articles, and poems for children's encyclopedias. A self-proclaimed futurist, some of Mr. Dennis' work focuses on the concepts of a more humanistic consumer model and a more humanistic society. Two prime examples of this focus are Woolly, a children's feature film about endangered species, and his latest work-in-progress: an online, interactive, 3-D animated children's store.

Tom Hazuka. Author of over 30 short stories, former co-editor of Quarterly West magazine, and author of two novels, including In the City of the Disappeared (Bridge Works Publishing Company, Inc., 2000), which draws on his experiences in Chile with the Peace Corps between 1978 and 1980. A professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, Mr. Hazuka has also co-edited two short story anthologies.

James Lomuscio. Award-winning journalist with more than 28 years experience as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor; for The New York Times and various other local publications. Mr. Lomuscio is also the author of Village of the Dammed: The Fight for Open Space and the Flooding of a Connecticut Town, scheduled for a July 2005 release from the University Press of New England.

Mark Misercola. A communications strategist and a former speechwriter for senior executives of such top corporations as IBM, Nynex, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is currently the H R Communications Director for Deloitte and an adjunct professor of advertising and public relations. Mr. Misercola's first novel, a suspense thriller, is Death to the Centurion (Twilight Times Books, 2004.)

Irene Sherlock. Associate director of publications and design at Western Connecticut State University, as well as adjunct faculty member of the English department. She also is the author of several produced one-act plays. Her poems and essays have been published in numerous literary periodicals and anthologies, and have been broadcast on WSHU, an affiliate station of National Public Radio.

Andy Thibault. Columnist for Law Tribune Newspapers, adjunct professor of journalism, consulting editor for Connecticut Review, and the author of Law & Justice in Everyday Life (TNT Publishing Company, 2002). In addition to managing a non-profit foundation that awards prizes annually to young poets and writers in Connecticut, he is a professional boxing judge and a licensed private investigator.

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