By Andrew Beers
The Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing (MFA-CW) has recently returned from their summer residency in Ireland. MFA Students were able to discover the imagination behind fiction and poetry through the wonders that were held in Ireland. With excursions throughout Ireland and special guest writers and publishers every week, the yearly residency was a creative writer’s paradise.
The week-long trip was led by Dr. Stephen Myers, a professor at DeSales University who specializes in poetry and is the poetry mentor for the MFA program, and Juliene Osborne-McKnight, who is also a professor at DeSales University and specializes in fiction and is the fiction mentor for the MFA program. Special guests for the Ireland trip include: Jarred Marlatt, Vona Groarke, Christine Whittemore, Donal Ryan, James Heaney Ph.D., Sara Davis-Goff and Lisa Coen. Each special guest accomplished a feat in literature whether it related to Ireland or to the MFA program. The trip began in Gallaway, Ireland and would be an experience to open the minds of the young writers and publishers in the program. Dr Myers and Professor McKnight, as noted in the syllabus, focused solely on the fiction and poetry rooted in Irish history and the culture embedded in Ireland.
“We got to see a lot of the beautiful greenery [Ireland] is known for,” said Christopher Shaddock, a current MFA Student and former Editor-in-Chief of The Minstrel, “as well as look into some of the history of the isle.” The students took pony cart rides across the country to Christian Churches and Dun Aengus and visited the castle Thor Ballylee and Glencar Falls. These are only a few destinations the students visited on their trip. Throughout their travels, the students were lectured by their mentors and read famous works from Yeats, as well as the works written by the guest speakers on the trip. Shaddock noted his enjoyment of the guest speakers that lectured each week.
“Several guest speakers with different backgrounds in writing showed up as well. They were all pretty chill, down-to-earth people and I think I got something out of each one in some way or another.” Shaddock is currently working on his thesis for his MFA degree. Students must produce their own form of writing before they can graduate the program and Ireland gave the students an open platform to express new ideas.
“It was a great place to generate and spitball ideas while we worked on our thesis,” Shaddock explained. Every semester in the MFA program, students write their own unique works of literature and continue to read modern works written by the special guests throughout the program. Students practice reading and writing constantly throughout the program in order to strengthen their abilities for their lives as passionate writers.
The program is a five semester program with 36 credits and is open for any communication major interested in creative writing or publishing. For more information on the MFA program here at DeSales, please visit the information session on September 30 in the Heritage Room of the DUC. More information for the information session is labeled on the MFA webpage online.