Now, more about the residency…. This was the program’s first residency and I was truly impressed with the welcoming and energetic faculty. No one seemed anxious about getting things right; it already felt like each and every person had made themselves at home and that a community had been long ago established. Really, it was just a few days into the program when I arrived so it was quite the sight to see that students and faculty had already bonded so closely in so little a time. I had the pleasure of speaking throughout a day dedicated to visiting writers, including myself and novelist Matthew Quick. We had the run of the afternoon and evening and it was great to spend so much quality time with the students.
Matthew read from The Silver Linings Playbook and then presented a workshop on using first person narration; then I took over to read poetry from stains and discuss the ins and outs of working within multiple genres, prior to presenting a workshop on social media and online networking for writers. We both spoke to how we came to the writing life, but the meat of that discussion was reserved for the public event in the evening, “Literary Living: Developing a Creative Career.” Matthew and I shared the stage of The Kerr McGhee Auditorium where not just students and faculty, but general members of the public – and a surprise visit from Telemundo! – filled the seats. We read; we gave a brief history of how we each became and continue to sustain ourselves as writers; then we opened up the floor to a wealth of inquisitive and insightful questions.
All in all, I had a wonderful time visiting Oklahoma City University and feel honored to have been a part of this inaugural residency. The Red Earth MFA is a newcomer to the scene of low-res programs and you can learn a bit about its development in The Low-Residency MFA Handbook, but keep an eye on it. I know you’ll continue to hear more as the months and years progress. I can already see how this program is going to flourish with its unique approach to providing real-world opportunities for students. I’m just so pleased and honored to have been witness to part of its successful kick-start.