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Member Dispatch from Riverside: MFA Insider Report

by Minda Honey

Hello Lighthouse Writers, it’s Minda writing you from sunny southern California! You may remember me from the guest post I wrote last spring about Roxane Gay’s workshop weekend at the Lighthouse. I moved back to southern California from Denver in September to attend the MFA program at the University of California, Riverside. My focus is nonfiction as I am in the process of writing a dating memoir. There are 19 people in my cohort across 5 genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting and playwriting. Recently there’s been a lot of a discussion about lack of diversity within MFA programs, so I am pleased to be part of an extremely diverse group that spans different races, genders, sexualities, religions and ages ranging 21 to 50.

Minda at her graduate reading, 2014.

Minda at her graduate reading series event.

We have just completed the fall quarter and will soon begin winter quarter. We take three courses each quarter. Last quarter I took a regional fiction seminar with Susan Straight, a creative nonfiction workshop with Tom Lutz and “Writer’s Life,” a course designed to give us some guidance as we pursue careers as professional writers; it was co-taught by Rickerby Hinds and Josh Emmons. Next quarter I will take courses with Tom Lutz and Susan Straight again as well as a creative nonfiction workshop with Laila Lalami. I have so much respect for my professors and it’s surreal having celebrated writers offering feedback on my work.

While there are some opportunities to TA in the first year, UCR does not require us to TA until the second year. Some of my peers have acquired reader positions and I am a Gluck Fellow. Gluck is an arts-based community outreach program. I have been visiting elementary and middle schools in the area to teach students how to write memoir. I am also the nonfiction sub-editor for our graduate school literary magazine, Crate. We just published our first issue of the school year and are always looking for submissions.

I feel very at home at UC Riverside, it was definitely worth all of the stress I had to endure during the application process. I also want to thank the Lighthouse. My portfolio submission was crafted in one of the many workshops I took while at the Lighthouse. Lighthouse teachers I had grown close with readily provided recommendation letters for my applications (which was extremely helpful as I’ve been out of undergrad for 7 years and did not maintain relationships with any of my professors). I was also able to arrange one-on-one sessions through the Lighthouse to polish my portfolio and my statement of purpose. Without the community provided by the Lighthouse my writing might have grown stagnant during my time in Denver, but instead it flourished.

If you’re interested in more insider info on MFA programs, I am one of twelve blogging about the MFA experience at www.themfayears.com. Each regular blogger attends a different school and they also run guest posts from students in other programs.


Minda Honey resides out west where she spends her days squandering her youth on the wrong men for the sake of the story. Follow her on Twitter @MindaHoney.

About Lighthouse Writers Workshop

Lighthouse Writers Workshop is the literary center for writers, readers, and literary gadabouts in the Rocky Mountain region.

2 comments on “Member Dispatch from Riverside: MFA Insider Report

  1. Pingback: Member Dispatch: Inside Riverside’s MFA Program | The Lighthouse Writers Top-Secret Blog

  2. Pingback: Member Dispatch: Inside Riverside’s MFA Program | Lighthouse Writers Watch Room

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This entry was posted on January 5, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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