Silver fox, right?! I just took my first-ever poetry class with him on German poetry - specifically Rilke, Trakl, and Celan - and it was simply splendid. I was initially scared as heck about taking a poetry class, but he’s so approachable and funny and kind and brilliant. When I met him with to discuss my midterm, he was really encouraging, helpful, and overall CHILL (he immediately gave me a crash course on metre, and then we proceeded to bond over our Lamy fountain pens). He’s given me some of the most valuable constructive criticism I’ve ever received. But anywho, you can probably get away with emailing him. He can be found at email@example.com. Definitely mention Plath.
Hiya, guys! So, let me ask this: what are your thoughts on Bennington’s writing program? The overall feel of Bennington sounds beautiful, but I’m really hoping that it can also be a haven for word-nerds like myself. Ideally, I’d love to surround myself with creativity and get into some fabulous grad school with a seasoned pen to earn my MFA in Creative Writing. An honest opinion, recommendations and advice are all appreciated!
Hiya back, you! Okay, so let me start off by saying that Bennington doesn’t technically have an undergrad writing program. Our philosophy, best expressed in our MFA in Writing’s motto, is “Read one hundred books. Write one.” In other words, good readers make good writers.
My Plan is centered around my desire to capture the human condition on paper, so I definitely get where you’re coming from in wanting an actual writing program. But I’ve discovered that Bennington’s emphasis on the reading aspect of writing makes total sense to me. After all, as a reader you live thousands of lives through the books you read, and I think that truly adds a universality to your writing.
Plenty! In addition to the work you’ll be doing in classes, there are extracurricular groups such as:
In addition to these clubs, there are always opportunities to form clubs of your own through the Office of Student Life, as well as less-formalized extracurricular activities, like open workshops for student fiction, or poetry readings in your common room. Hope this helps!
None the less I had seen something that night which overawed me. It was all in the day’s work - an exhausted division returning from the Somme Offensive - but for me it was as though I had watched an army of ghosts. It was as though I had seen the war as it might be envisioned by the mind of some epic poet a hundred years hence.” - Siegfried Sassoon
I’ve been reading about the Battle of the Somme non stop for about three days now for a presentation, and it’s starting to get prettyyyyy depressing.
I’m a literature student, and I’ve done two Field Work Terms in the literary arena. My sophomore year, I was an intern for nthword.com, an online magazine of fiction, poetry, essays, interviews, and photography. Last year, I was an editorial intern for Salamander Magazine, which is published out of Suffolk University in Boston. This kind of internship asks you to read a lot of unsolicited submissions and respond to them in writing, which I found really helpful not only for my critical reading abilities, but as a writer, as well. People from Bennington have interned at a long list of other literary journals as well, from BOMB to The Paris Review. If you have any other questions about studying literature at Bennington, you can e-mail me at SethK@bennington.edu
There are tons of opportunities to work in the literary field over Field Work Term, whether that be through publishing, journalism, editorial work, English education, etc. etc. You can even do an independent study if you are interested in, under the guidance of an advisor, spending the 7 weeks advancing your own written work.
I’m concentrating in literature, and spent my last Field Work Term at a poetry review in New York, and will be working at a bookshop in Paris this year whilst *attempting* to get my plays into better shape. Like making them…exist…
So, as you can see, basically anything you want to set your mind to accomplishing, you can do. With a good cover letter, and enough chutzpah, that is.
Hope this helped! You can also contact the Field Work Term office if you have more specific questions — they’d be more than willing to give a hand.
Parke ‘15 (sorry…I wrote this and then realized Seth had already responded…and I got jealous)
Short answer - Good writers are good readers, so be prepared to read a lot and write a lot of papers. Here’s a slightly more in depth answer I posted a while ago.
One little anecdote - one of the things I’ve really appreciated this term that Brooke Allen (great lit teacher) has been doing is editing my prose in my essays. In high school my papers were mostly edited for grammar and clarity, but beyond that (because I have perfect grammar now of course) Brooke will have me change words and sentences just to make the paper sound better, which is super helpful as far as improving your writing goes.
Why thank you!
As far as creative writing goes here, there really isn’t a technical program. The literature faculty believe that good writers are great readers, so before you write anything, you’ll be spending a whole lot of time analyzing and writing about literature and/or poetry.
That being said, it is certainly possible to study creative writing here, and many people do it successfully. Within those literature and poetry classes, there are often opportunities to write creatively, and as you become an upper classman, you begin to have opportunities to work individually with professors on creative work.
The senior lit students just had their reading of their senior projects on Wednesday, and out of 6 students, 4 of them wrote something relatively creative, from a historical fiction novel based on a Don Quixote character, to a collection of poems about smoking translated from Spanish to English.
Creative writing here is something you have to work for and persevere at on your own, but all of the lit faculty here are fantastic published writers, and their input on your work is super valuable.