Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poetry Tastes are Subjective

Today I got this official e-mail from BYU, with the subject line "Final Decision":

"The last two MFA applicants accepted our offers on Wednesday. I am sorry that we will not be able to offer you a place for this coming Fall."

FYI, when I wrote to the Powers That Be about why I was not accepted, this is what they said:

"I can't speak for the admissions committee, but in reviewing your file I see a lot of promise. You are a strong writer and your poetry suggests the kind of potential we like to see in applicants. Your writing also shows clear focus. My sense, however, is that the committee tends to favor writing that shows, in its subject matter, a wide range of interests. You might consider poems that reach beyond autobiography or your specific cultural experience. This is not to say that either of those things is bad, but that you already have clear mastery of them. Consider including poems that demonstrate interests and points of focus that are not already represented in these poems. I hope you don't take my comments as a critique of your writing, only as an insight into what is likely to appeal to the admissions committee."

So, my subject matter isn't to their tastes, and/or needs to be wider in variety. I wonder what would have happened if I had submitted a prose sample instead. What can they say about wideness of subject matter with only one sample? Anyway, thanks to Andrea for referring me to this very wise statement about interpreting poetry.

As for how I'm feeling about the whole thing, I'll say that today is an emotional day. Reminds me of the day the counselor came over and released me from my calling as Primary chorister. It was a surprise and I wasn't ready for it at all; further, I feared that it was a sign from God that I was going to be very sick for quite a while longer. (I also feared that it came about because someone who didn't know me very well suggested to the counselor that I might like a break.) From the beginning of all this talk of applying this year, I have felt nothing but peace about the decision. That feeling made me [over-]confident that I would get in. So I guess, now, that God has something else up His sleeve for me, but I'm trying not to fear that this means more medical issues this year.

Sad, scared, bored, worried, lonely.


Jennifer B. said...

So sorry :(

Wm Morris said...

I'm also sorry you didn't get in.

I also see a lot of mixed messages in that reply.

Anonymous said...

That's a great Venn diagram.

I don't suppose it'd make you feel better if I told you I think it's their loss. (But that *is* what I think.) Also, my defensiveness on your behalf makes the explanation you posted seem like gobbledygook to me. You were supposed to write about things you know less well and are less skilled in writing about? How could you possibly have guessed that?

Oh well, I'm sure I'd be rooting for the other guys if I knew and liked their writing like I like yours. (But I'm not and I don't.)

Michelle said...

I'm so sorry.

Care for another opinion? You have a CLEAR MASTERY-- maybe it's a sign that you don't need this program, you just need to write. Because writing is something you do very, very well

xoxo, m

Jill Shaw said...

I'm sorry! I wish there was something I could do to make it better.

Joey/Denny/Emma said...

I think you're such a good writer you could be teaching the courses. I'm baffled by this.

Angie said...

I can't imagine what they were thinking. You are already one of my favorite contemporary poets. But here's what I think: if the goal of that particular program is to teach Mormon writers to write like they aren't Mormon, then I'm glad you didn't get in. I think you have such a gift for speaking to our community. When I imagine you setting that aside to focus on other assignments for YEARS I get really sad.