The Graduate School at Hood College is launching a new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Hood’s creative writing MFA, which is the only low-residency program in Maryland to offer concentrations in both fiction and poetry, will begin its inaugural summer residency in June 2024.
The low-residency format has grown increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to the flexibility it offers for working professionals and lifelong learners. As a low-residency program, students from across the country work remotely while corresponding one-on-one with faculty mentors.
During the summer, students convene on Hood’s campus for a 10-day residency. The residency experience includes workshops, readings, panels and lectures with permanent faculty and guest writers. Students may also partake in an optional study abroad residency in Prague.
At Hood, students will join a diverse community of writers, who will immerse themselves in all aspects of the writing life from literary history and theory to editing and publishing. By the end of the two-year program, students will have produced a fully polished manuscript that will be ready to submit for publication.
Augmenting Hood’s permanent faculty are several acclaimed guest writers: Sandra Beasley, celeste doaks, Robert Eversz, James Allen Hall, Donna Hemans, Steven Leyva, Cleyvis Natera and Elly Williams.
“A low-residency program gives a very authentic sense of what it means to be a working writer,” said Beasley, award-winning author of Made to Explode (W. W. Norton, 2010).
“Where the time in a program becomes useful is in thinking about professionalizing your skill set—reading and thinking critically, communicating clearly, developing a signature voice that can be used in your creative pursuit, and creating the structures that are going to sustain your life as a writer.”
While many graduates of MFA programs go on to teach and publish books, having a strong foundation in communications can translate to a variety of career paths. Guest writer celeste doaks, for instance, combines teaching with working as a copywriter for a financial investment firm.
“You can take a degree in creative writing and go anywhere,” said doaks. “There are so many possibilities—students could work in advertising, communications, newspapers or publishing. It’s so important for students to know that they have a wide range of options.”
Serving as director for the MFA program is Elizabeth Knapp, Ph.D., associate professor of English. Knapp is the author of Requiem with an Amulet in Its Beak (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 2019) and the recipient of the 2022 International Poetry Prize from Atlanta Review.
“Central to our program’s philosophy is the idea of balance—between writing and the demands of everyday life, between periods of solitude and social interaction—as well as the presence of a diverse and cohesive literary community,” said Knapp.
“We believe that while we may write in solitude, we work together as a community to bring our art into the world.”
Prospective students should apply by April 15, 2024, for the first summer residency.