Faculty Spotlight

Sandra Simonds, Ashland MFA Poetry
Sandra Simonds is the author of six books of poetry: Orlando (Wave Books, 2018), Further Problems with Pleasure , winner of the 2015 Akron Poetry...Read more

Director's Note

Christian Kiefer, Ashland MFA Director

Greetings from the eastern edge of the great Midwest, a place of marked contrasts and artistic furies: verdant summer days, fall colors to steeple the blood, stark beautiful winters, springtimes filled with the hum of bees and the silence of butterflies. And in the midst of such geographies: the village of Ashland, Ohio, more than two hundred years old and containing within its borders the creative spark you have been looking for all your life.

Maybe you have held within your heart a vision of yourself. I know I did. I know I still do. The vision for me is to make art—more than that!—to make great art. For me that primarily means writing fiction. For you, maybe it means poetry or creative nonfiction or something in-between. More than a decade ago, a group of brilliant writers came together with exactly the same vision, founding the Ashland low-residency MFA program in creative writing. Today, that program has grown and flourished under the snow and wind and rain and sun of central Ohio and under the stewardship of an increasing group of poets and writers wholly dedicated to the belief that mentorship is not only essential to their own work but is essential to the heart and soul of the artist. And understand that by artist I mean me and I mean you for we are, in the end, of the same tribe and therefore we are family.

This is our character at Ashland. This is our spirit. I am well aware that there are plenty of MFA programs available to you, that you might choose any number of places to call “home,” but I also know that if you choose this to be your home that you will find it warm, nurturing, and challenging in all the best ways. We will push you to become better at what you want to do. And you, in turn, will push us to become better—better writers, better teachers, better human beings. We, at the Ashland low-res MFA, thrive on this connection, believing as we do that teaching and mentoring is really a kind of collaboration between likeminded people. We become teachers not primarily because we want to teach but because we want to learn.

I would invite you to go through the various pages here, pages which highlight our incredible faculty, our residency structure, the various ways and means in which you might envision yourself joining us, but I suspect if you’ve gotten this far you’ve already looked at some of that material and if you haven’t you likely will with or without my invitation. In fact, if you’ve gotten this far, I suspect you might already see yourself coming to work with us here, at the eastern edge of the great Midwest. I hope you do. I hope to see you soon. I’m here for you. We all are.


- Christian Kiefer, Director