1. How large is the New Writers Project, and how many poets and fiction writers do you accept every year?
Depending on the year, we usually accept four poets and three fiction writers into the program and then reverse the order for the following year. We tend to have seven poets and seven fiction writers in the program at any given time. And while seven writers in each genre may seem like a small program, our students share workshops and faculty, both permanent and visiting, with students from The Michener Center for Writers, which has about a dozen or so poets and fiction writers of its own.
2. What sort of training do graduate students receive before they lead their first workshop?
All new teaching assistants go through several hours of TA orientation before the beginning of their first semester. In the past, we have held this orientation on the day after the general orientation in August. TAs also meet frequently throughout each semester with their supervising professor.
For the undergraduate creative writing course, which takes place during the first semester of the second year, TAs meet with the two supervising professors to establish some basic guidelines for the course. To help guide the TAs through their individual workshops, we also schedule several Lecture-Workshops, which consist of one professor and a TA discussing a student's creative work in front of the class and then eventually drawing the rest of the students into the discussion.
3. How are classes set up for students to get the most writing done while they're in the program? Between taking classes and teaching classes is there really much time for my own writing?
We recently shifted NWP course requirements in order to give our writers the option to have more time to do what we bring them here to do, which is to write. The new requirements allow our writers to use a combination of conference and thesis hours to reduce their course load to two classes per semester. We also made the requirements flexible enough that they can take a third course if, for instance, a particular class interests them or has something to do with their current writing project.
4. Aside from The Michener Center's generous fellowship, what are the biggest differences between that program and the New Writers Project?
One main difference is that the New Writers Project is a two-year program, while Michener students are in school for three years. Students should consider how the length of a program fits with their other commitments and how soon they would like to complete their studies. The other major difference between the two programs is that NWP students teach — literature and creative writing, which includes leading workshops — and MCW students have no teaching duties. Here again, each student needs to consider what sort of experience he or she hopes to gain from attending a certain program.