Brief Bio: Grace Curtis lives in Southwest Ohio where she writes poetry and volunteers with The Antioch Review. Her chapbook, The Surly Bonds of Earth was the 2010 winner of the Lettre Sauvage chapbook contest. She has published widely in numerous journals. www.n2poetry.com
What initially drew you to Ashland's MFA Program? I was working full-time when I first considered attending an MFA program so I liked that Ashland had a single, two-week residency rather than two residencies each year, which enabled both me and my employer to plan better. I also liked the fact that Ashland was a newer program and because of that, I knew that everyone involved would be working hard to make sure the experience was a good one. I was very impressed with the roster of faculty as well and with the fact that the program is limited to poetry and creative nonfiction, which I felt go together well.
What did you appreciate most? I appreciated the residencies the most. I loved being in the company of other writers for two solid weeks. At first, I was glad from a logistics standpoint that the residencies were contiguous two-week sessions vs. two separate weeks throughout the year; however, I came to appreciate the fact that the two contiguous weeks provided you with a better opportunity to become immersed in writing and to really get to know classmates and faculty over an extended period. That was a surprise that I have come to appreciate more and more.
I also like that Ashland is a smaller program. I felt faculty had the opportunity to provide better one-on-one consultation and help. In the three years I attended residencies, I experienced a real tightening of the community of faculty and students that created a nurturing and helpful environment.
The setting of Ashland University should not be overlooked. The second two years of residency, we were housed in the university’s senior housing which was wonderful—comfortable, nice sized apartments shared by four students. It was very conducive to working and to interaction with classmates in an informal setting.
How do you feel this program impacted you? I just wouldn’t be where I am today, possessing the deeper understanding of poetry and of craft had I not attended. And, I feel as though I have made life-long friends in the arts that are almost as meaningful to me as the formal learning.
What do you feel was the greatest takeaway? I believe I took from the experience a more critical ear for what poetry is, what it sounds like, what it feels like, what it can do, what it looks like. Even preparing a critical paper in the third non-residency semester provided me with the opportunity to renew a writing skillset I hadn’t used in a while—research, theory development, expository writing, deeper analysis of the literature, revision and document preparation.
What was the subject or theme of your thesis? My thesis was a collection of poetry that focuses on being in between places—seasons, ages, loves, realities, locales.
Finally, what are you up to now? Current occupation, or otherwise: In May of 2011, I quit a 30 year job with a healthcare system to work full-time writing and to work on getting my book published. I have also focused on building my online platform in social media such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr. I post on two blogs: www.n2poetry.com, a site that is strictly poetry oriented and at http://www.babybirdshaveflown.blogspot.com/, a personal site that focuses on empty nester issues. I have been writing book reviews and submitting poetry as well. I would like to attend one or more writing residencies to continue to work on the manuscript in preparation for another round of submissions in 2012.
Feel free to contact Grace if you have any questions about her experience at Ashland: Gecurtis81@woh.rr.com
Contact the MFA Program
For additional information, complete the online form below OR write/call:
Sarah Wells, Administrative Director
MFA in Creative Writing
Bixler Center for the Humanities
Ashland, Ohio 44805