MFA in Writing Virtual Residencies

From June 2020-June 2021, Pacific University's MFA in Writing program ran three highly successful and transformative virtual residencies..

With both new and familiar faces, a lineup of spectacular guests, and the regular schedule of workshops, lectures, classes, readings, panels, and interviews, the program offered its traditional, rich academic content our students and writers conference attendees have come to expect and love. We did it at a distance, and every effort was made to cover those distances between us, so that we could truly be together in community, train as artists representing widely diverse perspectives and approaches that are ever expanding, and do so together with the balance of good humor, generosity, and urgency our times call for.

We’ve heard from participants in our virtual residencies, and here’s what some of them have had to say...

What People Are Saying

From a member of the faculty:

"Having done more virtual events and teaching in the ensuing months, I can say: yours remains the very best example! You did such an outstanding job of making it all go smoothly and dynamically, with such a great blend of a casual, friendly attitude and really serious content.... The shorter, fun videos and conversation sessions created a real sense of community and friendship that then fed into our other interactions and helped everyone bond more."

And from two students:

"This residency achieved things in a handful of days I had not been able to do in as many years of trying on my own, adding both breadth and depth to my writing resources. Even first drafts feel different now, through the lens of the workshop discussions, and the rich and positive community continues to impress me."

"I felt so welcomed and supported by this writing community, and it is wonderful to be part of it. The June 2020 residency was enjoyable, powerful, intense, mind-expanding and emotional, which was unexpected from a virtual format."

Video Highlights from the June 2020 Residency

Nonfiction faculty Claire Dederer logs in from the parking lot of a grocery store in rural Washington State rain to present this lecture on writing criticism.

Poetry faculty Kwame Dawes calls in from Lincoln, Nebraska, to finish out the residency with a sustained—and sustaining—meditation on the work of Nikky Finney.

Fiction faculty Valerie Laken recorded her talk, “The Understory,” over the course of 24 hours, and you can see the light change as the lesson grows.

Plus, take a moment to check out samples of homemade videos showing where our faculty live and do their work, in a series we call “Where the Magic Happens”:

Sanjiv Bhattacharya from Los Angeles.

Marvin Bell from Iowa City.

Cate Kennedy from her home north of Melbourne, Australia.

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