CAN GOOD WRITING BE TAUGHT? â€œThe answer is yes and no,â€ says Michele Glazer, director of creative writing and a professor in the discipline's Master of Fine Arts, which began in the fall of 2009 at PSU.
â€œGood writing can certainly be encouraged, and you can learn the craft and make it your own,â€ she says. â€œBut like music or any other art form, writing requires considerable dedication, and you have to have talent.â€
An MFA in creative writing is long overdue, considering Portland's rich literary scene and its existing talented writers. Students in the new program select from fiction, nonfiction, or poetry tracks, taking a rigorous curriculum of core workshops and seminars, as well as literature classes and electives. Ultimately, they produce a book-length thesis under the guidance of a faculty adviser.
Those advisers include a cast of talented faculty who are writers themselves. Glazer has three books of poetry, including On Tact, & the Made Up World, which will be published by the University of Iowa Press in 2010. Professor Diana Abu-Jaber is the author of the award-winning novels Crescent and Arabian Jazz. Her latest novel, Origin, was published in 2007.
â€œâ€˜I'll never get to see him grow up,' she says in her terrible, transparent voice. â€˜I'll never throw a birthday party for him, never cut his hair, never meet his girlfriendâ€¦.' As she speaks, her voice begins to toll inside of me. It changes shape, taking on substance: like an old memoryâ€”as if she was someone I used to know a long time ago, and for me that sort of ancient recognition is rare and disturbing as waking to the sight of a ghost.â€
â€“ From Origin, Diana Abu-Jaber
Professor and journalist Michael McGregor has been the editor of three magazines, and his writing appears in The Oregonian, The Seattle Review, and Poets & Writers magazine. Professor A.B. Paulson's short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Extreme Fiction: Fabulists and Formalists.
Longtime Writer-in-Residence Craig Lesley is the author of four critically acclaimed novels and a memoir, including Winterkill and River Song.
The rest of the faculty include some familiar names in the national literary scene.