Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Before You Say Yes to That MFA Program Offer: Questions for the Campus Visit

For this application year’s MFA hopefuls fortunate enough to receive one or more offers from programs, the April 15 deadline for your yes or no is looming. To which romantically remote creative haven will you be packing yourself off in the next six months? How can you think about being discerning when you’re so dizzy from dancing around the room with your acceptance letter clutched to your breast?

Two years ago I was not so much trying to decide where or whether to go to grad school as I was reeling from the congratulatory phone calls and squealing every 15 minutes at having won this lottery, unspeakably grateful that I had been “chosen” and, moreover, that I had a reason to move out of my mother’s house. After sending off 17 applications and more than $2000, then sliding into months of extreme anxiety that necessitated medication (this was not helped by checking the MFA blogs every 30 seconds, 16 hours a day), there was no question of whether I would go if I got in. I was going.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kazim Ali Leaves an Important Message

I returned home after poetry class, arms loaded with backpack, purse, cell phone, and the mail I’d just snagged on the way up my steep and icy drive. Inside the kitchen, boots stomped off, I hit the blinking play button on my answering machine, all the while opening cupboards, looking for quick food.

A man’s voice streamed out of the machine, his base pitch, the clipped words, and I didn’t recognize any of it, but he was speaking to me about things he thought I should know, something about his mother's heart surgery and not to worry, she was doing fine, but there was more bad news…

At this point, I hit the play button to start over, and what I heard was this, “Hello Elizabeth, this is Kazim Ali, and I just wanted to let you know that my mother had surgery on her heart…”